Today marks the 40th anniversary of the 'Munich Massacre'.
On September 5th 1972, eight Palestinian terrorists belonging to the Black September movement coasted past sloppy security into the Olympic Village (Olympiadorf) and took nine Israeli athletes, coaches and officials hostage in their apartments. Two Israelis were gunned down in the initial moments of the siege.
The subsequent stand-off in the Olympic Village lasted for almost 18 hours. Scenes of terror and suspense transfixed a live TV audience across the world. Munich - 'the cosmopolitan city with a heart' - had arrived on the world stage for all the wrong reasons.
Later that evening, the terrorists and hostages went by bus to a military airport in Fürstenfeldbruck, a suburb of Munich, from which they would then escape by helicopter. The terrorists had brokered a deal based on an 'agreement' for safe haven in an Arab country. The hopelessly ill-prepared German authorities planned an ambush, but sadly under-estimated the number of terrorists and were desperately short of trained personnel. During a botched rescue attempt, all of the Israeli hostages were killed in gruesome fashion. All but three of the terrorists were killed.
Jim McKay, covering events live for American network ABC, commented "When I was a kid, my father used to say 'Our greatest hopes and our worst fears are seldom realised.' Our worst fears have been realised tonight. They've now said that there were eleven hostages. Two were killed in their rooms yesterday morning; nine were killed at the airport tonight. They're all gone."
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