Historical Background

On 5 September 1972 during the 20th Summer Olympics in Munich, eight Palestinian terrorists from the Black September cell infiltrated the Olympic Village, killed two of the members of the Israeli team and took another nine hostage.

A crisis team comprising Police Commissioner Dr. Manfred Schreiber, the Federal Minister for the Interior Hans-Dietrich Genscher and the Bavarian Home Secretary Dr. Bruno Merk, negotiated with the hostage-takers for around 20 hours. The former Mayor of Munich, Dr. Hans-Jochen Vogel, who had been responsible for Munich winning the bid to host the Olympics, the Mayor of the Olympic Village, Prof. Walther Tröger, and Willi Daume, President of the National Olympic Committee, were also involved.

The terrorists demanded the release of around 200 Palestinians that were imprisoned in Israel, and others who were incarcerated in German detention centres. The Israeli Government did not accept an exchange of prisoners.

The assailants planned to fly to the Fürstenfeldbruck airbase with the hostages, and from there to take a plane to Cairo. In an attempt to liberate the hostages that night, all nine remaining Israeli victims were killed in gunfire on the tarmac of the Fürstenfeldbruck airbase, along with a German police officer. Five of the eight hostage-takers were also shot to death, while the three survivors were arrested and a few months later released in another hostage exchange. The massacre and its victims must and will never be forgotten.