Terrorist Attack On the 1972 Munich Olympics More than ever before terrorism is affecting the world in various ways. Terrorism is prevailing in the world and is consuming it, making every country, every individual feel as though they could be a victim of it, or be subjected to terrorism in some way throughout their lifetime. However, terrorism is not new or something that anyone can change, or can be erased off the face of the earth. It is another danger that every country is faced with and will more than likely have to deal with, considering how much terrorism has taken place recently.
Indeed, terrorism has affected the world for the worst; also, it has even affected the way international sporting has to be conducted. Stating that before the terrorist attack on the Munich Olympics in 1972, there was hardly any need for security, terrorism was unfathomable back then in international competition. Tragically, terrorism did occur and it forever changed how much security and caution the Olympics is planned and operated with. Ultimately, this research paper will tell of the terrorist attack on the 1972 Munich Olympics, and of a personal account of an American athlete who was competing here during the attack.
UNFOLDING OF THE ATTACK Approximately one billion people from around the world were allowed to watch how the terrorist attack on the 1972 Munich Olympics unraveled (United States. National Park Service). To begin, the 1972 Munich Olympics held in Germany started off like any other previous Olympics had with eager athletes and excited fans from all over the world ready to watch some spectacular human athlete performances. Definitely, no one was expecting or prepared for what was about to unfold in front of them in a matter of hours.
On September 4, 1972, that vening, was started off entertaining and fun for the soon to be hostage Israeli team. They enjoyed a night out and saw a performance of “Fiddler on the Roof” before they would go back to the Olympic Village and rest for an eventful upcoming day at the Olympics (United States. National Park Service). Nevertheless, that night as the Israeli team innocently slept members of “Black September”, Palestinian terrorist group invaded the Olympic Village.
They were armed and took nine hostages from one of the apartments being used by the Israeli team. Interestingly, not one person thought, for there were any witnesses that saw the Palestinian group carrying bags and scale the Olympic compound’s six foot- six inch fence at 4:30 a. m. on September 5, 1972 was peculiar or strange (Munich Olympic Massacre: Background & Overview). Though, many athletes often hopped the fence, it would have been imperative if just one person would have suspected that some foul play was about to occur.
Next, the “Black September” group was at the doors of the two Israeli athletes apartment complexes, had their guns hidden in athletic bags and were using stolen keys to enter them (Munich Olympic Massacre & Overview). However, in the irst apartment wrestling referee Yossef Gutfreund investigated a noise he heard at the door of their apartment to then slowly open the door to eight masked, armed men at the other side. Once he saw the men he frantically shut the door and knowing that danger was upon his team he shouted ” Hevre Tistalku! ; which, is Hebrew and means “Guys, get out of here! ” (Munich Olympic Massacre: Background & Overview). Meanwhile, while he shouted he threw his 300 pound weight at the door causing some major confusion. Yossefs act of bravery enabled two athletes to escape the Palestinian terrorists. Also, allowing nother eight members of the Israeli team to hide themselves from danger. As the Palestinians stormed into the apartments and started taking hostages weightlifter Joseph Romano grabbed ahold of one of the terrorist’s guns but sadly was shot and killed on the spot.
Just as, wrestling coach Moshe Weinberg was shot and killed after he tried to stab and kill one of the Palestinians with a fruit knife as his fellow teammates were being transported to a single apartment (Munich Olympic Massacre: Background & Overview). Importantly, the terror of the Palestinian terrorists was led by Luttif Afif and his deputy, ight-hand man Yusuf Nazzal. The other six members of the “Black September” group included: Afif Ahmed Hamid, Khalid Jawad, Ahmed Chic Thaa, Mohammed Safady, Adnan Al-Gashey and Jamal Al-Gashey (Munich Olympic Massacre: Backgrour Overview).
In the aftermath of the violent taking of the Israeli team the Palestinian terrorists now had nine living hostages and were ready to start making their demands, and if their demands were not complied with the nine living Israeli hostages would soon see their demise. The nine living hostages held by “Black September” were “referee Yossef Gutfreund, American born eightlifter David Berger, weightlifter Ze’ev Friedman, wrestler Eliezer Halfin, track coach Amitzur Shapira, shooting coach Kehat Shorr, wrestler Mark Slavin, fencing coach Andre Spitzer and weightlifting judge Yakov Springer” (United States.
National Park Service). DEMANDS OF “BLACK SEPTEMBER” Initially if there is going to be any act of terrorism there is usually a reason behind its’ madness. As thought the terrorists demanded the release of 234 Palestinians jailed in Israel and the release of another two Palestinians incarcerated in Germany. Consequently, Israel was quick to decide that they ould make no negotiations with “Black September”. However, Munich police chief and the head of the Egyptian Olympic team offered the terrorists vast amounts of money to release the Israeli hostages.
Additionally, Tunisian and Libyan ambassadors to Germany also tried to make some form of progress with the terrorists; though, they ended up being just as unsuccessful as any of the others because the terrorists initial demands were not complied with. Thereupon, after many unsuccessful negotiations, 12 hours later to be exact “Black September” demanded some form of transportation to Cairo (United States. National Park Service).. On the contrary, as these intense hours of negotiations took place what many people don’t know is that the hostages were being mistreated.
Obviously, this not a surprise that the Israeli hostages were beaten and mistreated; though, this does put another aspect into how horrible it must have been for the hostages (Eleftheriou-Smith). Imagine those angry, hostile terrorists mistreating them for hours, and then to see the hostages realize that they will most likely die because no one will comply with the terrorists demands, not even their own ountry; which, would be a slap in the face to the hostages being held captive. Just image how terrible and frightening it would have been to be put into a situation similar to the hostages’.
RESCUE ATTEMPT According to research this “rescue” was a terrible failure, one of the worst rescue attempts possibly ever. Accordingly, authorities led “Black September” to believe that they would comply with their demands; however, authorities planned to ambush the terrorists at the airport. Hence, this whole massacre unfolded around 10 p. m. and was horrific (United States. National Park Service). To start, the German snipers chosen to sharpshoot the Palestinian terrorists had no experience whatsoever, and did not have a proper way to communicate with each other.
Also, the German snipers believed that there was only five terrorists that held the Israeli athletes, while in reality there was actually eight of them. Also, the police were not properly outfitted to take on the terrorists and they did not request back-up on time either. Furthermore, the flight crew whose task was to overpower the terrorists when they were to board the helicopter with the Israeli hostages were all volunteers made up f a German police force.
In fact, when the time came for them to fulfill their task they abandoned their posts as the helicopters arrived carrying “Black September” and their nine hostages. Then, as the snipers, sharpshooters opened fire on the terrorists, some of the terrorists were instantly killed; however, some survived and that made the difference of the end outcome of this particular terrorists attack (United States. National Park Service). Furthermore, those members of “Black September” that survived caused immediate chaos and havoc.
Since, the hostages were still captive and could not escape the elicopters, it seemed as though the terrorists last self-mission was to kill the remaining hostages. Just past 12 p. m. on September 6 one of the terrorists opened fire into one of the helicopters killing three of the hostages, another terrorists opened fire in the second helicopter killing another five of the hostages; sadly, the last surviving hostage died of smoke inhalation when a surviving terrorist tossed a grenade into that hostages helicopter (United States. National Park Service).
In the aftermath, all the hostages were killed and for the terrorists, eader Luttif Afif Issa was shot to death, three other terrorists were captured, another three were also killed, second in command almost escaped; though, he was tracked by dogs and after an exchange of gunfire was shot to death. Notably, after this tragic event took place even with the world watching due to satellite television. The beginning news reports told that the terrorists were all killed and that the hostages were all alive; which, was so far from the truth but surely the truth was eventually revealed (United States. National Park Service).
PERSONAL ACCOUNT There were many athletes who competed in the 1972 Munich Olympics and were exposed to the terrorist attack in some way. However, Frank Shorter, gold medalist of the 1972 Olympic marathon event was one of the few people who actually was willing to tell about their whole experience (USA TRACK & FIELD). To start, Frank Shorter was preparing for the marathon race when the Olympics was overtaken by the terrorist attack and the soon murder of many innocent Israeli athletes and their coaches.
Frank Shorter remembered hearing gunshots really early in the morning; which, would have to been as early as 4:30 a. . because that is when the terrorist attack was documented. Furthermore, Frank at the time of the gunshots was sleeping on the balcony of their Olympic Village apartment (Attack on 1972 Games Shadows Olympics). Just imagine hearing some estranged gunshots at 4:30 in the morning while sleeping on a unprotected balcony, that would be terrifying. Also, Frank and his teammates did not have clue on what just occurred, or why there was gunshots, for they did not even know that anyone had died that morning; until, fellow team mate Steve Prefontaine translated a German telecast that was on.
They were mortified after hearing what had just happened and were speechless (Attack on 1972 Games Shadows Olympics). Initially, after the massacre at the airport the consensus of everyone was to just end the games and go home. The next day, after the memorial service, the consensus changed, and the games were to continue; mostly, everyone felt that the Israeli athletes would have wanted them to continue the games (Attack on 1972 Games Shadows Olympics ). I had a vague feeling that if as a team, we did not try to win our remaining events, the terrorists would somehow win instead” (Frank). Just as, Frank Shorter was motivated to do his best; though, he knew that one of the only places that something terrible could occur was out on the marathon course. Frank stated, “I simply wasn’t going to think about it. I couldn’t bring back the Israeli athletes or their coaches, but I could have control over my place in the tragedy. I could run my race and give my all, and in my own private way. defy the terrorists” (Frank).
Incredibly, Frank never did think about terrorism as he flew through the entire marathon course to then claim an Olympic Gold Medal. Importantly, every Olympic athlete that year realized any international competitions pose a threat of potential harm (Attack on 1972 Games Shadows Olympics). Particularly, Frank clearly mentioned that in modern times “security is a fact of life at the Olympic venues” (Frank). CONCLUSION In conclusion, the terrorist attack on the 1972 Munich Olympics was tragic and it forever changed the way the Olympics was then operated.
Also, because of all the negative ramifications of the terrorist attack on the Olympics in 1972, the Olympics is now adequately prepared for terrorists; hopefully, there will never be another terrorist attack on the Olympic games. Sadly, since the 1972 Munich terrorist attack was not ever foreseen to occur, it could have of not of been really avoided. However, there could have been a better organized rescue mission; which, could have resulted in saving the nine living hostages and could have ended not so tra ragically.
Just imagine how the families of those hostages felt as they heard what unfolded during that years Olympics; also, forever they will remember how horribly the rescue mission was executed. Tragically, terrorism will still occur in many settings and is very prevalent in the world, now more than ever before. Hopefully, there will be less terrorism and violence in the world soon; especially, to never seen another tragic event take place like the attack on the Munich Olympics.