Today, Germany will mark the 50th anniversary of the terrorist attack by Palestinian commandos on Israeli athletes during the Munich Olympics. Among others, the presidents of Germany and Israel, Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Yitzhak Herzog, will take part in the piet in Bavaria, as well as the survivors of the Israeli victims. Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder will also be present. 17 people died in the politically motivated attack.
Palestinians attacked Israeli athletes on September 5, 1972. They first attacked the athletes in the Olympic Village, where an eight-man Black September commando killed two of them and kidnapped nine others and took them hostage. The terrorists threatened to kill them unless Israel released more than 200 Palestinian prisoners. German negotiators managed to convince the attackers to fly to Cairo with the hostages. At the military airport in Fürstenfeldbruck near Munich, however, elite marksmen were waiting for them.
There was a shootout at the airport, after which one of the terrorists used a grenade to cause the helicopter to explode, killing all the captured athletes. One German policeman and five terrorists also lost their lives in the unsuccessful liberation operation.
The whole tragedy showed the shortcomings in the safety of the Olympic Games. Neither the Bavarian nor the federal West German police were trained and equipped for such an event. In addition, they made several mistakes when organizing the rescue operation. The German army was equipped, but could not be deployed in peacetime.
The massacre could probably have been prevented. Even before the Games began, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and intelligence had information that an attack was imminent. However, the German authorities underestimated the threat and did not take preventive measures, and the Palestinians entered the Olympic village without any security check.
The organizer of the assassination, the Palestinian Abu Daud, repeatedly visited communist Czechoslovakia, the last time in 1989, and obtained the cover of the Czechoslovak State Security. Escaped justice, died in Damascus in July 2010.
The German government announced last week on Wednesday that it had reached an agreement on compensation with the relatives of the Israeli victims after a decades-long dispute. This arrangement paved the way for today’s joint piety. Germany will spend 28 million euros (687 million crowns) on compensation, the federal government will pay the majority, Bavaria and the city of Munich will pay the rest.