Publish date:
Updated on
Year
1972

Massacre begins at Munich Olympics

During the 1972 Summer Olympics at Munich, in the early morning of September 5, a group of Palestinian terrorists storms the Olympic Village apartment of the Israeli athletes, killing two and taking nine others hostage. The terrorists were part of a group known as Black September, in return for the release of the hostages, theydemanded that Israel release over 230 Arab prisoners being held in Israeli jails and two German terrorists. In an ensuing shootout at the Munich airport, the nine Israeli hostages were killed along with five terrorists and one West German policeman. Olympic competition was suspended for 24 hours to hold memorial services for the slain athletes.

The Munich Olympics opened on August 26, 1972, with 195 events and 7,173 athletes representing 121 countries. On the morning of September 5, Palestinian terrorists in ski masks ambushed the Israeli team. After negotiations to free the nine Israelis broke down, the terrorists took the hostages to the Munich airport. Once there, German police opened fire from rooftops and killed three of the terrorists. A gun battle erupted and left the hostages, two more Palestinians and a policeman dead.

After a memorial service was held for the athletes at the main Olympic stadium, International Olympic Committee President Avery Brundage ordered that the games continue, to show that the terrorists hadn’t won. Although the tragedy deeply marred the games, there were numerous moments of spectacular athletic achievement, including American swimmer Mark Spitz’s seven gold medals and teenage Russian gymnast Olga Korbut’s two dramatic gold-medal victories.

In the aftermath of the murders at the ’72 Olympics, the Israeli government, headed by Golda Meir, hired a group of Mossad agents to track down and kill the Black September assassins. The 2005 Stephen Spielberg movie Munich was based on these events.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Crazy Horse killed

Oglala Sioux chief Crazy Horse is fatally bayoneted by a U.S. soldier after resisting confinement in a guardhouse at Fort Robinson, Nebraska. A year earlier, Crazy Horse was among the Sioux leaders who defeated George Armstrong Custer’s Seventh Cavalry at the Battle of Little ...read more

First Continental Congress convenes

In response to the British Parliament’s enactment of the Coercive Acts in the American colonies, the first session of the Continental Congress convenes at Carpenter’s Hall in Philadelphia. Fifty-six delegates from all the colonies except Georgia drafted a declaration of rights ...read more

Battle of the Marne begins

Thirty miles northeast of Paris, the French 6th Army under General Michel-Joseph Maunoury begins attacking the right flank of German forces advancing on the French capital. By the next day, the counterattack was total. More than two million soldiers fought in the Battle of the ...read more

Calley charged for My Lai massacre

Lt. William Calley is charged with six specifications of premeditated murder in the death of 109 Vietnamese civilians at My Lai in March 1968. Calley, a platoon leader in Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry, 11th Infantry Brigade (Light) of the 23rd (Americal) Division ...read more