Massacre in Munich

Massacre in Munich: Remembering the 1972 Olympic Games

Every two years, the Olympic Games is the world’s chance to celebrates the best of humanity. From all over the world, thousands of athletes from hundreds of nations come together to compete. It takes years for them to develop their skills, they prepare and train year after year in order to perform at the highest level.

The 1972 Summer Olympics was hosted in Munich, West Germany. West Germany and the world looked to remove the stain left by Adolf Hitler’s 1936 Olympic Games, which was hosted by Nazi Germany. The security was calmer than usual for the Olympics, so that visitors can sense a feeling of harmony, even the Germans named the event as “The Games of peace and joy”. It seemed to be “The Games of peace and harmony” until the early morning of September 5th, when the spirit of this great event was sullied by despicable acts of terror. Under the cover of darkness, eight members of “Black September”, a force within the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), snuck into the poorly secured Olympic Village. The terrorists broke into the apartments of the Israeli athletes, taking 11 hostages. The terrorists immediately murdered two while trying to fight off their captors, leaving 9 hostages to face this horror.

Massacre in Munich

The next step for Black September was for them to issue their demands. Taking advantage of the world stage, their list included the release of 234 prisoners jailed in Israel, along with two West German insurgents held in West Germany. Israel’s response to the terrorists demand was immediate and absolute: there would be no negotiation. Israel held the policy of not negotiating with terrorists under any circumstances. Their goal was to deny incentives for future attacks, preventing more innocent Israelis form being in harm’s way. Israel tried to send a Special Forces unit to West Germany, a request which the West German government denied.

According to journalist John K. Cooley, the hostage situation presented an extremely difficult political situation for the West Germans due to the fact that the hostages were Jewish. Cooley reported that the West Germans offered the Palestinians an unlimited amount of money for the release of the athletes, as well as the substitution by high-ranking Germans. However, the kidnappers refused both offers.

The 21-hour hostage standoff presented the world with its first live window into terrorism. People all around the world tuned in to the television broadcast of the horrific event, a recorded 900 million people tuned in. Among the viewers were the Palestinian terrorists, who could see West German police outside preparing to assault the apartment they were in, revealing the police’s strategy to the terrorist.  At the end, the West German police’s plan and rescue operation failed, resulting in the deaths of all nine remaining hostages and one West German police officer. Five of the terrorists were killed in the crossfire.

The Friends of Zion Museum condemns such acts of terror, but most of all we remember the terrible loss of life. The 1972 Olympic Games held in Munich will be remembered by the Israeli people forever, the world must ensure the education of events like these in order to prevent them from repeating themselves in the future.