The Israeli Air Force (IAF) and German Air Force (Luftwaffe) held an event on Aug. 18. 2020 that will go down in the history books – a joint formation in a flyby over two locations that hold a deep connection to Jewish history.
As told by Shira Pansky in the article History: Honorary Flyby in German Skies, the joint honorary flyby was performed by five aircraft of the German and Israeli Air Forces and was led by a “Nachshon Eitam” (Gulfstream G550) of the 122nd (“Nachson”) Squadron flown by the squadron commander, Lt. Col. G, with the Commander of the IAF, Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin and Commander of the German Air Force Lt. Gen. Ingo Gerhartz.
To its left flew two IAF F-16 “Barak” fighter bombers of the 105th (“Scorpion”) Squadron, and on its right flew two German Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft, as a symbol of cooperation between the two countries.
The “Memory for the Future” flyby came to be as part of the preparation process for the international “MAG Days” exercise to which the IAF’s fighter jets are taking part for the first time, as these photos taken by our friend Andrew Timmerman from Finn Aviation Photography show.
For the first section of the flyby, the formation flew above the “Fürstenfeldbruck” airport by Munich, where a tragic event in Jewish history took place: a delegation of 30 Israeli’s was sent to represent their country in the 1972 Munich Olympic Games. On the 12th day of the international event, in the early hours of September 5th, 8 “Black September” terrorists broke into the Israeli delegation member’s rooms at the Olympic village. Two of the athletes, Moshe Weinberg Z”L, and Yosef Romano Z”L, were murdered and nine others were held hostage.
That same night, two helicopters flew the hostages to the “Fürstenfeldbruck” airport near Munich, with the plan to take off to Egypt from there. After an unsuccessful attempt to free the hostages, the nine were murdered at the airport – David Berger Z”L, Yossef Gutfreund Z”L, Eliezer Halfin Z”L, Mark Slavin Z”L, Ze’ev Friedman Z”L, Kehat Shorr Z”L, Andre Spitzer Z”L, Amitzur Shapira Z”L, and Yakov Springer Z”L.
For the flyby’s second section, the formation flew by the “Dachau” concentration camp, which was among the first concentration camps to be built in Germany. Dachau was initially a camp for political prisoners; however, it eventually evolved into a concentration camp for other populations including thousands of Jews throughout Europe.
With the break of the Second World War, living conditions at the camp drastically deteriorated – inhumane work conditions, malnutrition, lack of hygiene, and executions, all led to a sharp increase in prisoner deaths.
Over a third of roughly 40,000 people, who died at Dachau over 12 years, lost their lives during the final six months of the war. In April 1945, the SS began to transfer prisoners to prevent them from being liberated by the Allied Forces. At least 25,000 prisoners were sent on death marches or by train toward Austria, and thousands of them did not make it. On Apr. 29, 1945, the United States military liberated the camp.
“Today is a very emotional day for me. In memory of the victims of the 1972 Olympic Massacre, we conducted a flyby of the Fürstenfeldbruck Airbase with a formation consisting of two Israeli F-16’s, an Israeli Gulfstream G550, and two Eurofighter jets. On the way back, we passed the outskirts of Dachau. The Star of David presented by an Israeli F-16 fighter flying by the Dachau Concentration Memorial Site is a strong symbol of Israeli resurrection and power. It also delivers a clear and explicit response to the Holocaust: Never Again”, said Commander of the German Air Force, Lt. Gen. Ingo Gerhartz.
Photo credit: Amit Agronov and Stephen Peterson / German Air Force
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