On the occasion of the 50th anniversary, the documentary “Death and Games – Munich 72” from ARD reviewed the assassination attempt at the Olympic Games. Filmmakers Matt Pence and Lucio Mollica highlight events from a variety of perspectives and thus paint an exciting overall picture – from the importance of games for our country to the failure of the authorities. The killer Muhammad Safadi has his say on an equal footing and as one of the many eyewitnesses, which is exciting but at the same time almost unbearable. because of remorse? Do not regret anything.
The 1972 Olympics should show the world the new Germany. A global, liberal and modern country. Also important is an impressive counter-proposal to the shameful games of 1936 in Berlin. Just make them forget and come out of the shadows of the past.
Since general security precautions and the widespread deployment of armed units in the context of major sporting events were by no means uncommon at that time, Germany did not come up with any great ideas in this regard either. The liberal event concept also emphasizes the change in the country well.
The security men wear light blue textiles to make them act as “peace police”. You hardly see uniformed police officers. Against the background of the arrest of the leadership of the RAF, which occurred just before the Games, all this is absolutely amazing.
ARD Documentary “Death and Games”: Terrorists simply climb the fence
“We had credits, but I never used them. It was enough to wear a tracksuit to get into the competition venues,” says Shaul Ladani, who was a walker for the Israelis at the time. Citizen Zelig Shtorch, a top scorer at the time, adds what is unimaginable today: “I went to the Olympic Village with my cannon, not knowing it was forbidden. I wanted to clean it up and naively carried it with me in a big box.”
These conditions provide the “Black September” Palestinian terrorist organization with an ideal opportunity for a terrorist attack on the international scene. The Games had already been running for ten days when their operation on the night of September 5, 1972 changed the world of sports forever.
A Palestinian commando invades the Olympic Village and first encounters Olympic athletes who have returned late from the city. You are standing in front of closed doors and you have to climb the fence. The terrorist commando of eight men decides without further ado to do the same to them.
Sportschütze could have intervened
Troops stormed the residence of the Israeli delegation on Konolistras 31 in the village of men, and their goal: to free 232 Palestinian prisoners in Israel and international terrorists, including members of the RAF. Wrestling coach Mosche Weinberg is the number one victim that day. He was injured in a fight and then shot dead while trying to escape.
Weightlifter Yusuf Romano was also hit by a bullet, which led to his death two hours later because no doctor was allowed to see him. Zellig Storch still eats one thing today: His room has not yet been broken into and the shooter has his rifle. “The terrorist leader kept coming out, I could have shot him from my room, and kicked him out. But if I had killed, they would have shot everyone else at once,” he says. He didn’t want to live with this guilt.
But Shtorch always has a second thought: “But my shot could have changed the tide. It’s a dilemma that still haunts me to this day.”
“I killed the hostages”
Mohamed Safadi – now 69, then 19 – also has his say in the documentary Lucio Mollica and Bens Mateh. The fact that the filmmakers were able to track down and pin it is of course a press-cracker, the “scoop” one might say today. Al-Safadi was one of the killers of the Black September terrorist group and did not speak to the media about the events of that time for half a century.
The figure makers allowed the terrorists to speak at eye level and as an eyewitness, and they justified it in advance. After all, their goal is to “look at the event from all points of view,” they write. It’s not easy to listen to my cuff, cold as a fish, throwing things like “I killed the hostages” and “I don’t regret it, and I will never regret it.” He is proud of what he did. The documentary does not take him to the show. You get angry.
The fact that the German authorities made a number of mistakes in the course of the hostage drama was known only over the years, but is no longer in question today. At that time, for example, the attempt to liberate had to be thwarted because the terrorists had not cut off the electricity and the press was not shut down.
Terrorists can follow the police operation live on TV, with men stationed on rooftops around the scene with machine guns, some even dressed in flashy tracksuits. It’s actually more embarrassing. British journalist Gerald Seymour, writing promptly at the time, “the men in tracksuits seem to handle the matter somewhat inexperienced”, criticizes the apparent seriousness of the work.
The Germans’ refusal to use the Israeli hostage-taking unit because they did not want to lose face is another mistake. Ehud Barak, commander of Israel’s anti-terror unit, which calls itself “Sagrit Matkal,” has his say in the ARD documentary.
After the meltdowns also fake news
Barak shows what his unit could have done at the time at the airport. Airport means the airport located in Fürstenfeldbruck near Munich. There the hijackers are supposed to be put on a plane after rather fruitless negotiations. But everything ends in failure. Because Lufthansa Boeing, in which the hijackers are traveling, is empty because police officers disguised as airline crew, who were supposed to receive terrorists there, recently stopped their mission.
Then very few German snipers fired, resulting in a three-hour shootout. Equally incredible: even during the battle, the Olympic representative and government spokesperson spread the false news that the hostages had been released. The whole world breathes a sigh of relief, only to collapse again when the truth comes out: All remaining Israeli athletes and a policeman die, plus five terrorists. There are 16 dead in total.
Former Chancellor Willie Brandt: “The German Incompetence Document”
The police don’t want to take responsibility for the disaster, but chancellor Willie Brandt (SPD) finds clear words after the assassination. He speaks of a “torn document of German incompetence” that resulted in the creation of the “GSG 9” special unit to combat serious and violent crimes and terrorism. In five years, the hijacking of the Landshut will end.
Of course, the victims are also mentioned in the documentary “Death and Games”. Survivors and those left behind talk about their memories and describe their emotional worlds. Same topic at the end: the strange circumstances under which the three surviving hijackers were released in October 1972. They are pressed freely by hijacking a plane, which raises many questions shortly thereafter.
In the documentary, journalist Gerald Seymour is the one who picks up on the rumors and suspicion that the thing was once a “choreographer.” Seymour draws a scenario, “One problem has been solved. If a German court had sentenced the three terrorists to 35 years in prison, a plane would have been hijacked every three months to free them.” Peter Brant, son of then-chancellor Willie Brant and historian, does not want to deny the rumor about a production in the documentary.
Hunt for terrorists and conclusion
Subsequently, the Israeli foreign intelligence agency Mossad launched the “Wrath of God” campaign, which later killed one of the three surviving killers in Munich and twelve Palestinians suspected of involvement in Munich in 1972. Israeli intelligence did not arrest Muhammad Safadi. “I’m not afraid. Of course I don’t travel much, but I take security precautions when I do,” the terrorist and killer, hailed as a hero in Libya, where the killers were flown by plane, is allowed further disclosure at the end.
According to him, “Black September has definitely achieved a lot.” I think it was a successful campaign that will never be forgotten. It went down in history,” Safadi sums up. Gerald Seymour disagrees: “The camps still exist 50 years later. From an ironic point of view, I would say: absolutely nothing was achieved, ”said the British journalist at the end of a sensational documentary about the birth of international terrorism.