Friday, September 5, 2014
SEPTEMBER 5 = "17 Die in Olympic Day of Terror"
On today's date in 1972.... "Arab terrorists killed eight Israelis they took hostage at the Olympic Village (above, a terrorist looks down from the site of the attack) Tuesday when German police opened fire while the guerrillas were trying to escape at an airport near Munich. At least 15 persons were killed in the day-long drama that jeopardized the 20th Olympic Games " So ran the first paragraph of the United Press International account of the day of terror which did indeed interrupt, but which did not end the Olympic Games that year. Only the headline from the Cincinnati Enquirer the next morning which headlines this posting proved wrong in one respect... the death toll came in the end to 17.
The 1972 Olympic Games Are Shattered by Terrorists
The 1972 Olympic Games were held in Munich, which was a modern city in what was then the Federal Republic of Germany, or West Germany. These games were intended to show off to the world that Germany had risen above and beyond the Nazi regime which had hosted the Olympic Games in 1936. This was to be the new, modern Germany shorn of her past and operating within the new spirit of international cooperation. The games had been going well. Mark Spitz had won a record-breaking seven gold medals in swimming. Olga Korbut was winning hearts with her performances in Women's Gymnastics.
But all of this was shattered at 4:30 am local time on September 5. While the athletes were sleeping, eight (above, the room where the Israeli hostages were held) members of the Black September faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization, dressed in black tracksuits and carrying athletic bags loaded with arms and explosives climbed a two-meter chain-link fence with the assistance of unsuspecting athletes who were also sneaking into the Olympic Village. Once inside, they used stolen keys to enter two apartments being used by the Israeli team at 31 Connolly Street.
The Terrorists Gain Access and Take Israeli Athletes Hostage
The following is an eyewitness account given to the Times of London by Dr. Shaul Ladany who managed to escape the Arab killers: "The guards apparently assumed that they were athletes who had been out late and were arriving back in an unconventional fashion. Then a burst of bullets was fired through a door. A few minutes later, another Israeli in a second apartment heard someone ringing his doorbell. Someone opened the door.. and at once four Arabs, armed with Russian Kalashamikov rifles came in and ordered the Israelis out. With the
Negotiations Lead to the Airport
The terrorists demands were the release of 234 Palestinians and non-Arabs jailed in Israel, and also the release of two German terrorists held by the Germans, Andreas Baader and Ulrike Meinhof, both founders of the German Red Army Faction. The terrorists threw the body of Weinberg out through front door of the building to demonstrate their resolve. Israel's response was immediate and absolute: no negotiation. Israel's official policy was and remains to this day refusal to negotiate with terrorists under any circumstances, for the
The Massacre at the Airport
The plan was to take the hostages via helicopter to Fürstenfeldbruck Airport, a nearby NATO base where a jet would be boarded by the terrorists and their hostages, which would then take them to Cairo. Of course, the Egyptians wanted nothing to do with this business, and refused to take the plane, but the Germans let the terrorists think that this part of the deal had been arranged, The Germans had placed several sharpshooters in key positions and the plan was to let two of the terrorists go to inspect the plane wherein they would be overpowered
A Harbinger of Future Acts of Terror
There were of course plenty of recriminations to go around. Clearly the Germans had blown it at several points. In their zeal to make clear the emergence of a new and democratic Germany, the government of the Federal Republic of Germany had let security at the Olympic Village to become entirely too slack. And obviously they had blown the execution of the rescue at several points. But after a pause wherein a memorial
The Cincinnati Enquirer, Wednesday Morning, September 6, 1972, No. 150, Final Edition