Forty years later || In exclusive interview, neo-Nazi recounts aiding Palestinians in Munich massacre
German right-wing activist Willi Voss, in an interview to Haaretz, describes his involvement in the killing of 11 Israeli Olympic athletes in 1972.
A popular German detective novelist accused of being directly involved in the 1972 Munich massacre apologized for his involvement in the attack and denied being a neo-Nazi in an interview with Haaretz earlier this week.
Willi Voss, who was revealed to be an accomplice to the massacre by a report compiled by the German Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, and was made public at the request of Der Spiegel, told Haaretz that he “is not a neo-Nazi and has never been.”
The report, which stated that Voss was a neo-Nazi activist who aided Palestinian terrorists in killing 11 Israeli Olympic athletes, was released ahead of the 40th anniversary of the Munich massacre, to be marked this coming September.
At the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, terrorists from Fatah's Black September organization took hostage members of Israel's Olympic squad. Two Israeli athletes were killed in the initial hostage-taking and nine were killed during a botched German rescue attempt at a Munich airport.
The documents, which were released in June, detail a correspondence between local police in Dortmund and the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, and reveals that seven weeks prior to the attack, a man named Saad Walli, described as having "an Arab appearance", held a suspicious meeting with a neo-Nazi activist named Willi Voss.
Saad Walli was the alias of Abu Daoud, one of Black September's leaders and an organizer of the Munich attack, who died in Damascus two years ago.
According to Der Spiegel, the neo-Nazi activist aided Abu Daoud in obtaining fake credentials, including passports and other documents. In addition, he is quoted as saying that he "drove Abu Daoud around Germany, where he met Palestinians in various cities."
According to Voss, a right-wing militant introduced him to the Abu Daoud, calling him a "trustworthy friend."
The members decided that Voss would acquire vehicles for them, one of which would be used to drive Abu Daoud around Germany. They visited Cologne, Bonn, Hamburg and Frankfurt, where Walli met with different people.
“I have no idea what they talked about, since I did not speak Arabic,” Voss told Haaretz. “Only in retrospect was I informed that the point of these drives was preparing a terrorist attack.” Voss’ words should be taken with a grain of salt, since not all of the intelligence material has been released.
Voss continued on to Cairo, under Fatah’s orders. Several days before the attack, he was sent to Paris where he was to deliver a message written in Arabic. “I couldn’t read it,” Voss explains, “I was asked to deliver it to students. It could be that the message had to do with the attack. I have no idea.”
Voss’ next destination was Vienna, where he was supposed to accompany Amin Al-Hindi – another leader of the terrorist organization who was involved in the massacre – who was later appointed as intelligence chief of the Palestinian Authority. He claims that he heard about the attack on the television “like everyone else,” after Hindi failed to show up in Vienna.
Voss was also reportedly linked to a follow-up attack planned by Palestinian militants after the Munich massacre. Following instructions by Abu Jihad, then Yasser Arafat's deputy and Fatah's second in command, Voss was to plan an abduction attack at the Cologne cathedral and in the city halls of several major German cities in order to negotiate the release of Palestinian prisoners.
However, he was arrested in Munich with grenades and fire arms in his possession in October 1972. Voss was also found to be holding a threatening letter, meant to be sent to a German judge who had been in charge of the trial of three of the attack's planners.
Morevoer, the police report exposed by Der Spiegel indicates that Voss aided the terrorists to obtain weapons, possibly including those used in the massacre itself. "They originated from a very rare production line," the report wrote of the seized arms, saying the arms included "Belgian casings and Swedish explosives, made only for Saudi Arabia."
"Identical weapons were used by Palestinian terrorists to kill the hostages at the Olympics," Der Spiegel added.
Voss was sentenced to a short jail term for "unauthorized possession of firearms," only to be released four days after his sentencing and, eventually, making his way to Beirut. He claims that he was set up, and that the weapons found on him had nothing to do with an attack.
The story becomes even more complicated in the wake of the massacre. According to Voss, right-wing militants tried to assassinate him while spreading rumors that he was an agent of the German secret service, the CIA and the Mossad. This allegedly resulted from Voss’ connections with Fatah, as well as other assassination plots.
Voss then moved from Germany to the Middle East. Voss states that he was kidnapped by the Christian Kataeb Part, was held in detention and tortured. “During my captivity I decided to distance myself from violence. From then I only dealt with violence in my books,” Voss says.
"Obviously I am sorry for what happened, and for my involvement above all," he adds.
Today, Voss earns his living from writing, and divides his time between Germany and South Africa, although he does not reveal his exact location.
However, not everyone is so convinced of Voss ‘disassociation with the neo-Nazis. Herbert Krosney, a writer and award-winning documentarian, who was the first journalist to find and interview Voss in 1985, says that that the connection between the extreme right and the Arab nationalists “is not surprising.
“Starting with Sheikh Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem who cooperated with the Nazis, through the German scientists who aided Egypt in developing missiles in the 1960s, and until Voss, who aided in the Munich massacre – there is a long-lasting connection between both nationalists in the philosophical realm,” says Krosney.