A painful chapter of history. Terrorists murdered Israelis during the Munich Olympics 50 years ago iRADIO

Fifty years ago, one of the biggest terrorist attacks up to that time shook the world. At that time, Palestinian gunmen captured Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics and, despite the efforts of the police, gradually killed 12 people. For Germany, it is still a painful chapter in history that reminds it of its own missteps.



Munich
8:27 am September 5, 2022

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11 athletes and one policeman lost their lives in the massacre in Munich Source: Photobank Profimedia

“Germany was not prepared for terrorism. The procedure at that time was astonishing. For example, on the afternoon of September 5, a liberation action was planned, but the police did not have an intervention unit or snipers. So she summoned the men who scored points in shooting competitions. They didn’t even have helmets – they borrowed them from the firemen. In addition, TV crews were everywhere around the house with the hostages, so the kidnappers could see what was going on outside. Everything possible went wrong,” explains Bernhard Purin, director of the Jewish Museum in Munich, to Radiožurnál.

Terrorists murdered Israelis during the Munich Olympics 50 years ago. Filmed by reporter Václav Jabůrek

His employee Angela Libalová and I are standing at the center of the assassination – Connollystrasse 31 – a small house in the Olympic village.

“It doesn’t look like it, but it has a lot of floors. It also has an underground garage where the terrorists set up a patrol and were able to defend all the entrances. In addition, you can see perfectly in all directions from the windows. Later, it was concluded that the chances of a successful intervention in such a house would not be very high – a whole range of possible scenarios were discussed throughout the day,” notes Libalová.

The German police eventually devised a trap and transported the kidnapper and the hostage to a nearby military base. They say that they get on a plane and fly wherever they want. But the attack on the airport area did not work and the terrorists gradually killed all the Israelis.

“Helicopters took them to that base at night, and the event failed even because they landed a little different than they were supposed to. In the firefight, the terrorists managed to destroy the light of the airport tower, so the area was in darkness. There was confusion among the policemen and they did not know when to start shooting – one of the snipers did not even see the target. In short, a lot of mistakes were added up at once,” says Libalová.

Negotiations between West German government officials and the terrorists who kidnapped nine members of the Israeli delegation at the 1972 Munich Olympics. | Source: Photobank Profimedia

Germany has long denied any complicity. After fifty years, however, he intends to pay the survivors something in the way of compensation. To close this chapter for good. And this despite the fact that some questions of historians still remain unanswered.

“We still won’t get to a few documents, but I don’t think we’ll learn anything new from them. It would be good to declassify them to stop the various conspiracies. For example, with the theory that some of the hostages were accidentally killed by the police – even though, according to ballistics tests, it was clearly bullets from Kalashnikovs that the terrorists had. But above all, there is the question of how the Palestinians could have prepared everything so thoroughly. And also the circumstances of their early release – we still don’t know how close the ties were between Germany and the Palestine Liberation Organization.”


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Libalová alludes to the fact that the three detained terrorists were in custody for only a few months. Their supporters then hijacked a Lufthansa plane and demanded the release of the prisoners from Germany. The Bonn and later Berlin governments did not return to the assassination for decades, and only in the last decade are they gradually trying to correct it.

“Even at the top, they now understand that they have to face it, but it took time. Munich is generally unable or unwilling to come to terms with its past. At the same time, the Nazi movement was born in the city, the Munich Agreement was signed, which was actually the beginning of the Second World War. In 1980, there was a murderous assassination at Oktoberfest. But somehow it took a backseat,” warns Bernhard Purin.

“It’s probably because Munich presents itself as a cheerful and peaceful city associated with beer and festivities. But it is also the German metropolis where the most terrorist attacks occurred after the war. And there was silence about that for a long time,” concludes the director of the Jewish Museum in Munich.

Václav Jabůrek

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