Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The New York Times recycles an old story as a scoop

The story in the NY Times about the mutilated corpses of Munich Massacre victims is not new. In the year 2000 six such pictures were shown in the Oscar-winning documentary produced by the Swiss Arthur Cohn. The two widows, Ankie Spitzer and Ilana Romano, protested against this publication and called it bad taste and an abuse of their feelings and those of their children. In a fax that Ankie showed me, Cohn claimed that the widows had no rights to the pictures. Even so, in the Hebrew version of the movie they were omitted and in the English version they were blurred-out (s. e.g.,
Cohn refused to talk with me, and then his secretary wrote an aggressive answer to my polite letter.

On 4.5.2001 the 
intelligence and strategic affairs expert Yossi Melman published in the Israeli daily Ha’aretz:

“In early 1990, after Ankie Spitzer was interviewed on German TV, a German citizen who had seen the program and felt pangs of guilt at his government’s lies, came to Israel with document samples – 80 pages in all. The documents were examined and found to be authentic. The mole revealed that in the archives of the state prosecutor’s office, there was a room full of papers relating to the affair.
Spitzer appeared on television again and talked about the documents that had come into her hands. The Bavarian minister of justice denied that such documents existed, but Spitzer displayed the ones she had, forcing the German authorities to admit to their existence and to allow representatives of the families to examine and photocopy them. At the same time, the German security services launched an investigation to discover the identity of the mole, but they have never succeeded.

The documents in question - ballistic reports, pathology reports, police testimony, photographs of the bodies and other material – have exposed appalling errors of judgment, negligence, lies and subterfuge on the part of the German authorities.”

Also interesting is what Ankie told Melman and myself, but this didn’t catch much public attention:

“We know for sure that Israel received advance warning of a major terrorist attack before the games, said Ankie Spitzer. That information was conveyed to her by Aharon Yariv. He told me that five days before the attack there were reports of something big about to happen at an international event in Europe. It never occurred to the Shin Bet that it might be connected to the Olympics.
Spitzer and Romano received additional information from an unexpected source: an Italian citizen who had been a major activist in the Red Brigades. Several years ago, after repeated calls from an Israeli liaison man, the women agreed to see him. The meeting took place in a Berlin hotel room, reminding them more than anything else of a second-rate spy movie.
The [Italian] man was very frightened, they related. He was worried about being killed by the Mossad and he made us swear never to reveal his name. He came with a pile of documents and told us that two months before the Olympics an argument had broken out within the Red Brigades.
The extremists wanted to join up with the Palestinians who were planning a big operation at the Olympics. The moderate camp, to which he belonged, opposed the idea. In the wake of this dispute, he went to Hamburg and met with a German intelligence agent, who sent him to the office of the German security services in Munich. He left his name and number, but no one ever called. They simply ignored him.
But the man didn't give up. He went to the Israeli Embassy in Bonn and offered officials there the information at his disposal: a plan, quite detailed, for attacking the Israeli delegation at the Olympics. The security officer asked him some questions, but obviously no one took him seriously.”

Ankie told me a slightly different version and refused to disclose the identity of the Italian. I believe I have discovered his name, but it seems that he is not alive anymore.

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