On This Day: hostages at the Munich Olympics

September 5 1972: Israeli hostages taken at the Munich Olympics

By Hannah Tosh, September 5, 2011

Nine members of the 1972 Israeli Olympic team were snatched from their apartment in the Olympic village and murdered by the terrorist group Black September.

Eight gunmen struck as the athletes slept. Others were spared when a colleague- Yossef Gutfreund heard a disturbance, raised the alarm.

The hostages had been taken as a response to the 200 Arab prisoners that Israel held at the time. Black September had demanded the release of two German prisoners. However, the Israelis refused to negotiate.

Israel offered to send Special Forces to help the German Police who had no hostage training. They declined.

The terrorists then threatened to kill two hostages and refused attempts to exchange them for unlimited amounts of money.

The hostages were killed when the gunmen retaliated by opening fire after a German sniper’s failed attempt to shoot the group’s leader.

What the JC said: Israel was dumbfounded and taken completely by surprise by the deaths of her nine members of her Olympic Games team murdered by Arab terrorists in air field battle near Munich…As the shattering reality of the disaster hit home the first reaction here was one of self condemnation for the failure, having relied exclusively on the security arrangements made by the Olympics Committee. All local authorities announced the cancellation of receptions and festivities planned for Rosh Hashana.

See more from the JC archives here

Last updated: 8:45am, September 5 2011