It was September 5, 1972, around four in the morning. Munich was abuzz with the joy of the ongoing Olympic Games, which were supposed to restore Germany’s reputation, which had been tarnished since the last games were used for Hitler’s propaganda. The Olympic town slept the sleep of the righteous, but a group of eight unknown figures approached its edge.
This group suddenly met another group at the fence that separated the sleeping town from the rest of the city – they were American athletes who were just returning from a night walk around the local bars. Both groups helped each other climb over the fence and on the other side went their separate ways. The Americans had no idea that they had just helped eight terrorists from the Palestinian organization Black September, which had been planning an attack on athletes from Israel for weeks.
A group of terrorists arrived at the building where the Israeli sports team was staying. Jamal al-Ghashi was assigned the task of guarding the front door, while the others went upstairs to the apartment where the five coaches and two referees were sleeping. The referee of the match, Josef Gutfreund, was awakened by strange noises in the corridor, and when he saw the armed attackers through a crack in the half-open door, he threw himself at the door with his entire weight of 135 kilos to hold off the terrorists. Meanwhile, he shouted to his roommates, “Take cover, boys!”
A wild firefight ensued, in which none of the victims wanted to give up without a fight. Meanwhile, the noise of the match woke up all the people who lived around. They also eventually called for help. When the police arrived at the scene, negotiators spoke briefly with the terrorists. After that, the terrorists threw papers from the window of the building on which their demands were written: the terrorists demanded the release of 234 Palestinian and Arab prisoners who were in custody in Israel, as well as the release of the notorious Baader-Meinhof couple and the promise that the terrorists would be able to leave with the hostages to Egypt or another Arab country. Otherwise, they say they will start executing the hostages.
In the meantime, news came from Israel that the Israeli government had no intention of negotiating with the terrorists. Meanwhile, the Olympic Games continued, suspended only at public pressure 12 hours after the first Israeli athlete was killed.
The negotiators agreed with the terrorists that they would be taken by bus to the military airport, where helicopters would be waiting for them. Even with the hostages, the helicopters will then fly to another airport, where a Boeing will be ready to take them away from Germany to an Arab country. But in reality, the German government had absolutely no intention of allowing the terrorists to leave the country, they organized this whole logistical game just to buy time to assemble an intervention force – because until then they did not have one.
At the airport with the Boeing, she was waiting for a quickly assembled unit of police officers whose task was to become snipers and capture or eliminate terrorists and free the hostages. But these were people who did not have experience with such interventions, moreover, the organization of the entire event failed miserably – the airport was poorly lit, the snipers were given outdated rifles with insufficient range and they did not even have a walkie-talkie, even though they allegedly asked for one. Moreover, they did not know the exact number of terrorists – instead of eight, only five were reported.
When the helicopters landed at the airport, the whole situation inevitably escalated. The snipers attacked the terrorists, but managed to hit only one. Meanwhile, the others eliminated the remaining lights that illuminated the airfield, leaving the airfield in darkness. One of the terrorists threw a grenade into the helicopter with the hostages, the explosion killed three of the four Israeli hostages on board – the fourth died of suffocation as firefighters were afraid to approach the burning helicopter. In the ensuing confusion, another of the terrorists shot the remaining five hostages in the second helicopter.
The terrorists fled, but after a chase in the area, the police eventually managed to shoot or capture them. In the meantime, the media reported that the situation had turned out well and that all the hostages had been rescued – but the truth was exactly the opposite.
The horrific terrorist attack, which later became known as the Munich Olympic massacre, claimed the lives of 11 Israeli victims – 2 people died in shootouts in the rooms, the remaining 9 in the chaos at the airport.
The already mentioned Jamal al-Ghashi, one of the terrorists of the Black September organization, who directly participated in the Munich massacre, later testified that they were not ordered to kill anyone from the command of their organization. They originally wanted to avoid loss of life, but when the brave athletes resisted them, they had no choice, according to him: “They almost ruined the whole event,” al-Ghashi defended the murders.
Source: Wikipedia, Czech Radio