For those of us of a certain age, The Munich Massacre is etched in our memories as much as almost any other historical event.

At approximately 4:30 a.m. in the morning on September 5, 1972 in West Germany [still September 4 in the U.S.], Palestinian “Black September” terrorists took Israeli Olympians hostage at the Olympic Village in Munich, West Germany.

Two of the athletes were killed there, and another 9 died at the airport in a failed rescue mission as the terrorists thought they were boarding a plane to take them and the hostages away. A German policeman also was killed.

The Independent in Britain recounted the events in a 2006 look back which provides great detail:

Carrying assault rifles and grenades, the Palestinians ran towards No 31 Connollystrasse, the building housing the Israeli delegation to the Munich Olympic Games. Bursting into the first apartment, they took a group of Israeli officials and trainers hostage: Yossef Gutfreund, Amitzur Shapira, Kehat Shorr, Andrei Spitzer, Jacov Springer and Moshe Weinberg.

In another apartment, they captured the Israeli wrestlers and weightlifters Eliezer Halfin, Yossef Romano, Mark Slavin, David Berger (an Israeli-American law graduate) and Zeev Friedman. When the tough Israelis fought back, the Palestinians opened fire, shooting Romano and Weinberg dead. The other nine were subdued and taken hostage. The Palestinians then demanded the release of 234 prisoners held in Israeli jails.

[Israeli Athletes killed Munich Massacre]

[Israeli Athletes killed Munich Massacre]

The images of a hooded terrorist on the balcony where the hostages were being held are among the most iconic:

[photo credit:ASSOCIATED PRESS]

[photo credit:ASSOCIATED PRESS]

[Co Rentmeester—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images]

Here are some original television reports:

There would be a long period of retribution by the Israelis, in what was called Operation Wrath of God, in which those involved in the planning and execution of the attack were killed. I don’t know that we’ve ever heard the true or full story, but it has been fictionalized in movies such as Munich.

Featured Image: Weeping relatives of the Munich massacre victims arrive on the tarmac at Lod Airport for the memorial service before the funeral processions at local cemeteries via Wikimedia Commons.


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