Munich ’72 – Attack on Olympia

About 7,000 athletes from more than 120 countries and a billion viewers from all over the world watched televisions on August 26 at the new Munich Olympic Stadium for a glamour-filled opening ceremony. The Organizing Committee’s concept of Willy Daume seems to be working – Germany wants to show the world a different new face after the dark days of National Socialism. The dark shadow of the Nazi past must be expelled.

At first the games go as planned – until the ninth day of competition, which ends in disaster. The Palestinian terror command “Black September” managed to reach the headquarters of the Israeli Olympic team in Konolistras 31. The attackers killed two athletes and seized nine other athletes. Their demand: the release of more than 200 prisoners, most of them Arabs, in Israel. They threaten to shoot the hostages if this is not done. All nine Israelis were killed trying to free the athletes.

What do the relatives of the victims say after 50 years? What does the German who helped Palestinian terrorists say? What do the athletes say? In his documents, author Kajo Fritz works through the events in Munich with the help of contemporary witnesses, each of whom presents his personal view of the events:

Günther Jauch was 16 years old at the time and was stuck at home in front of the family’s first color TV, not wanting to miss a minute of matches. Jauch celebrated Ulrike Meyfarth’s golden jump in the evening and was shocked by the events at Olympic Village the next day. “Of course, happy matches were a thing of the past,” he says. “No one expected anything like this and all in the face of ultimatums that had to be fulfilled or not fulfilled in a few hours.”

The Bavarian Ministry of the Interior has commissioned film director Stefan Kaiser to shoot a documentary about police work at the Olympics. During the terrorist attack on the Olympic Village, he suddenly found himself in the center of the action, where he was filming with his photographer from the opposite balcony. “Then a terrorist came out with a gun and pointed at us,” he recalls. His partially unpublished recordings provide real and dramatic impressions of the hostage-taking process. His photos still shock him today: “It takes me a lot.”

Heinz Dixius was on duty as a young police officer and was as overwhelmed by what was happening as most of his colleagues. “No one was ready for it. It was all just a sporting event.”

Willie Voss, a member of the “Black September” commando, helped the terrorists prepare. “For me, this was an operation by the friends who took me and who I belong to.”

For Ulrike Nasse-Meyfarth, her surprising victory in the high jump can still only be seen in the context of the attack. “It’s still painful to talk about,” says swimmer Klaus Duckhorn, who has competed for the East German national team. With his camera, he documented the terrorist events from the next balcony and displays his photos in public for the first time.

Anki Spitzer was the wife of Andrei Spitzer, coach of the Israeli fencing team, who was among the dead in Munich. She was visiting her parents in Holland and had to watch on TV how her husband was held for hours by the kidnappers. “My parents woke me up at 7 am and then I watched German and Dutch programs for 12 hours and I didn’t know what was going to happen.”

Paramedic Axel Kaiser and the interpreter of the Israeli delegation, Alexander Miller, who survived only in a lucky circumstance, have spoken as eyewitnesses.

But the film also examines what security authorities have learned today from the police’s “laissez-faire” strategy and the lack of anti-terror plans. Police officers without weapons, no special forces to rescue hostages – since Munich, all this was out of the question for major events. In addition, it is questioned to what extent future generations of terrorists have taken the tactics of Palestinian commando as a model. During the attack on the Olympics, the media attention was enormous and had a worldwide impact – for the first time, television was broadcast live for hours. Says historian Dr. Eva Jake. Terrorism expert Julia Ebner analyzes: “Munich 72 is the blueprint for many subsequent terrorist attacks.”

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