When you Google “1972 Olympics Munich” the first few sites that come up have nothing to do with Gold Medals, Mark Spitz or world records. Instead they highlight the coldblooded murdering of eleven members of the Israeli Olympic team by Palestinian terrorists, known as Black September.
Lack of Security
In an effort to create a relaxed environment and distract people from the images of Nazi Germany, the Germans failed to provide the proper security for the Olympics in 1972. Even when a Palestinian informant warned of the attack three weeks before (according to a 2012 article in Der Spiegel) and local authorities in Munich did not respond in a way that could have easily prevented the murders.
The documentary film One Day in September claims that “security in the athletes’ village was intentionally lax and that athletes often came and went from the village without presenting proper identification. Many athletes bypassed security checkpoints, and climbed over the chain-link fence surrounding the village.”[i]
The initial attack was on September 5th in the early hours of the morning. Several of the Israelis resisted the attackers, giving their friends and fellow athletes time to escape. Yossef Gutfreund who saw the masked attackers seeking to enter his dorm ran towards the door shouting, alerting others, and threw his massive 300lb physique against the door.
Another Israeli, Moshe Weinberg, who was captured after being shot in the face, purposely lied about where his fellow countrymen were, providing them time to escape. “As the athletes were marched back to the coaches’ apartment, the wounded Weinberg … attacked the kidnappers, allowing one of his wrestlers, Gad Tsobari, to escape via the underground parking garage. The burly Weinberg knocked one of the intruders unconscious and slashed another with a fruit knife before being shot to death. Weightlifter Yossef Romano, a veteran of the Six-Day War, also attacked and wounded one of the intruders before being shot and killed.”[ii]
The terrorists had two dead bodies and nine hostages. Then they listed their de
mands. They placed one bullet-ridden body next to the hostages and threw one outside, to illustrate their resolve. They wanted Israel to release over 200 prisoners in exchange for the hostages.
Germans Embarrassed and a Noble Gesture
The Germans were quite embarrassed that only a few decades after the Holocaust, Jews were again being killed on their own soil. To his credit, Munich police chief Manfred Schreiber offered the terrorists a significant amount of cash and himself along with two high-ranking German officials in exchange for the Israelis. The offer was rebuffed. Despite repeated offers of money, the world would soon find out that terrorists by definition are unyielding. They claimed, “money means nothing to us; our lives mean nothing to us.”
German police, dressed as athletes took up positions. However, the media’s filming of t