THIS DAY IN HISTORY | A BLACK DAY IN WORLD SPORTS | September 6 1972
We all get excited and thrilled when we see our players representing our nation in Olympics. Trust me guys, this is an immense pleasure and gratified moment for all of us. Although it is disheartening to witness them coming without any medal when they are trying their best in the games. But what is more, heart-wrenching is when they come home in the coffins. Yes, it is true. This unfortunate incident happened on this day in the year 1972 during Munich Olympics when some Palestinian terrorists held hostage to nine members of Israeli team in their quarter in Munich Game Village, ends disastrously. The 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich was organized with the motto of Game of Peace and Joy. The West Germans wanted to erase the memory of 1936 Berlin Olympics, which was used by Adolf Hitler as a platform to promote Nazism. Contrary to that Olympics, the organizers were not that concerned about the security and policemen kept a low profile during the Games.
The hostage situation started when five armed men of a terrorist group Black September enters the premises of Game Village in the dawn of September 5 the eleventh day of the XX Olympiad and it was curfew in the Game Village and some of the players (mainly Americans) were coming from the long and happening night out. Meanwhile five armed Palestinians, in track suits, went unnoticed to the three-story building where the small Israeli delegation to the Munich Games was staying. Shortly before 5 a.m., these intruders forced their way in one of the Israeli apartments, taking 9 hostages. When the intruders entered one of the room, they shot the Israeli wrestling coach Moshe Weinberg, who struggled with them. He was shot dead before knocking two of the terrorists. Weightlifter Yossef Romano tried stopping them with a kitchen knife, and he succeeded in injuring one terrorist before he was fatally shot. Some of the Israelis escaped narrowly from the back passage, but nine were taken, hostages. Around 8 a.m., the attackers announced themselves as Palestinians and demanded the release of 234 Arab and German prisoners, including the release of Ulrike Meinhof and Andreas Baader, founders of the Marxist terrorist group known as the Red Army Faction, and a safe passage to Cairo. Threatening if the demands were not met, all the nine Israelis would be killed. The tense negotiation started between the terrorists and authorities, which later became complicated after the refusal of Israel to negotiate with terrorists. The German tried to raid the Israeli compound but they backed off the fear for the safety of hostages and other athletes in Olympic Village. Ten German authorities were offered in return of nine Israeli hostages but it went unheard by them.
Finally, terrorists agreed to a plan in which they were to be taken by helicopter to the NATO air base at FÜrstenfeldbruck and then flown by airliner to Cairo with the hostages. Meanwhile, Germans planned their own ambush plan to rescue the nine hostages. Around 10 p.m. the terrorists and hostages emerged from the building; the hostages were bound together and blindfolded. They took a bus to a makeshift helipad and later from there, they flew to FÜrstenfeldbruck. Terrorists thought that their demands would be met, but Germans were confident that once they reach Cairo, all those nine hostages would be killed. So they planned their own ambush plan, which terribly flopped. Since they could not save those nine hostages. In course of the transfer, they realised there were eight terrorists instead of five. They had not assigned the enough resources and moreover, they did not have enough and gears to carry out the ambush successfully. Nevertheless, shortly before 11 p.m., the police open fire, which went off the mark. In retaliation by the terrorists, which lasted for two hours, resulted in killing the four hostages in one helicopter and tossed the grenade in another where the rest five were kept. At around 1:30 a.m., the last resisting terrorist was killed. In this gun fight, eight terrorists were gunned down and a German policeman was killed but unfortunately shook the entire world killing the nine hostages. One of the pilots of the German helicopter was also severely injured.
In the aftermath of this tragedy, Munich game was temporarily suspended and the memorial service of eleven dead Israeli players was organised. This memorial service attracted 80,000 mourners to the Olympic Stadium. But soon in the afternoon of September 6, the game was resumed. Then International Olympic Committee President Avery Brundage must be a fierce believer of ‘the show must go on’ philosophy. That’s why his decision of failing to suspend the Games during the hostage situation and then resuming it further in the afternoon of September 6, attracted more criticism. Later in that year, he retired.
This was the first when the sportsmen were targeted and were held, hostage. That’s because they were Jews and representing the only Jewish nation. In fact, this was the first time when any terrorist group attacked during any Olympics Games. Making the world got to know what is terrorism and after few decades, the war on terrorism started.
But whatever happened, this attack shouldn’t have happened. This attack further questioned the security arrangements by the organisers. This will be considered as the BLACK DAY for the World Sports and Olympics Games. The decade old wound would never heal. However, an attempt by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin to fly Germany on Tuesday night to dedicate a memorial to the 11 Israeli athletes
The memorial in Munich Olympic Park, which will be commemorated on Wednesday, will be the first permanent museum that will pay tribute to the victims of the Munich Massacre.
*This article is contributed by Abhinav Kaushal,
Author studiesLiterature, Language and Culture at Russian Centre Of Science and Culture.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Kootneeti Team