Susan Barth
Advocate for Marriage Education in Israel

From Munich to Auschwitz – My Heroic Israeli Flag Bearers

I have always been mesmerized by the Israeli flag. According to Wikipedia, the white of the Israeli flag (which was designed for the Zionist Movement in 1891 and adopted on October 28, 1948, five months after the country’s establishment) represents a “symbol of light, honesty, innocence and peace.” The blue (which depicts the stripes on a tallit) represents symbols of “trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, faith, truth, and heaven..”  ¹

 My heroes/heroines are those Israelis who proudly wear “my Israeli” flag as an emblem and characterize what the colors of the flag depict. I salute two such groups, the Olympians and the IDF, who “choose” to raise “my flag” on German soil and announce to the world “never again”.

To the Eleven Olympians brutally murdered at the 1972 Munich “Massacre” Olympics– you came to Germany seeking peace and an opportunity to represent Israel , despite the fact that some of you had relatives lost in the Shoah. The murders are particularly poignant given the history of Israeli participation in the Olympic Summer Games since 1952 with the exception of  the 1936 Games in Germany which it boycotted as representatives of the Jewish community in protest of the Nazi Party‘s anti-Semitic policies.² The presence of the Israeli team in Munich was a statement to the world that Israel is a member of the international community and proud to participate in what is meant to be the gathering of world peace ambassadors in the form of athletic competitors.

As your flag draped bodies returned “home” to Israel, you became the embodiment of the colors of the flag for eternity. To each of you

David Berger, 28, weightlifter; Ze’ev Friedman, 28, weightlifter;

Yossef Gutfreund, 40, wrestling referee; Eliezer Halfin, 24, wrestler

Yossef Romano, 31, weightlifter;  Amitzur Shapira, 40, track coach

Kehat Shorr, 53, shooting coach; Mark Slavin, 18, wrestler

Andre Spitzer, 27, fencing coach; Yakov Springer, 51, weightlifting judge

Moshe Weinberg, 33, wrestling coach

your memory must be memorialized in the most public manner possible. As of this writing the controversy regarding the “moment of silence” has not been resolved, despite the relentless campaign of Andre Spitzer’s widow, Ankie Spitzer, and a increasing number of international dignitaries. Certainly  a travesty will be done if the Olympic committee ignores these calls and misses the  opportunity to make a declaration that such terror will never be tolerated again.

 And to my IDF heroes/heroines, your courage and dedication to protect the lives of Israelis everyday is a testimony to what the flag symbolizes.

On Germany soil, in 2003 you painted the blue sky with the Israeli flag as your three F-15 planes participated in the flyover over Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps in Poland in tribute to those six million Jews who died in the Holocaust, taking six crewmembers whose relatives are survivors of the Holocaust.

The flag bore witness as the message read by General Maor “We, Israeli Air Force pilots, in the skies above this camp of horrors, rose from the ashes of millions of victims. We carry their silent cries, salute their heroism and promise to be a shield for the Jewish people and their country,Israel.”³

May those who wear the emblem of the flag be granted the opportunity to represent Israel freely and always to come “home” and to your families in peace and security.

Wishing the best of luck to the 36 athletes approved by the Olympic Committee of Israel (as of June 29) to represent the Israeli delegation at the upcoming 2012 Summer Olympics.

Thank you for proudly carrying “my Israeli” flag among the nations of the world!

Sources:  written by Harriet Sherwood




About the Author
Susan Barth is founder and director of Israeli non profit Together in Happiness/B'Yachad B'Osher, promoting stronger, healthier marriages impacting Israeli society. A Project Management Professional (PMP) and businesswoman from the US, Susan sponsored and chaired the First International Conference on Marriage Education in Israel (attended by over 360 professionals) in Jerusalem in memory of her parents and launched I-PREP, an innovative marriage education curriculum. On November 8, 2017, Together in Happiness co-hosted with MK Yehudah Glick a historic Knesset seminar promoting government support for pre-marriage education