Guernsey Press

Panel of historians begins review of 1972 Munich Olympics attack

Eleven Israeli team members were killed by Palestinian militants.


A panel of historians set up to review the 1972 attack on the Munich Olympics is beginning its three-year mission to examine what happened before, during and after the events of five decades ago, the German government said.

In April, Germany’s interior ministry named the eight-member international commission of experts, most based in Israel or Germany, as part of an agreement last year with relatives of the 11 Israeli team members who were killed by Palestinian militants.

The panel’s first meeting was being held at the interior ministry on Tuesday.

Interior minister Nancy Faeser said “the events surrounding this terrible attack will finally be examined thoroughly and transparently”.

Her ministry said there would be “regular publications and events.”

In September, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier apologised for many German failures before, during and after the attack, as he joined his Israeli counterpart and relatives of the murdered athletes at a ceremony marking the 50th anniversary.

Days earlier, an agreement for the relatives to receive 28 million euros (£24 million) in compensation headed off a threatened boycott of the event. The sum included much smaller payments made earlier.

Germany also agreed to acknowledge failures by authorities at the time and to set up the expert review.

On September 5, 1972, eight members of a Palestinian group called Black September clambered over the Olympic village’s unguarded fence.

1972 Olympics memorial
A memorial to the athletes killed by Black September terrorists during the 1972 Munich Olympic Games (Alamy/PA)

Some Israeli athletes managed to escape but nine were seized.

The captors demanded the release of more than 200 Palestinians held by Israel and two German left-wing extremists in West German prisons.

The attackers demanded a plane and safe passage to Cairo.

After a day of negotiations, the attackers and their hostages were allowed to leave aboard two helicopters for the Fuerstenfeldbruck airfield, outside Munich.

Sharpshooters at the airfield opened fire.

The attackers threw a grenade into one of the helicopters carrying hostages, which exploded, and shot the hostages in the other helicopter.

The botched rescue attempt also left a West German police officer and five of the attackers dead.

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