“Money means nothing to us. Our lives mean nothing to us”
The innocence of the Olympic Games was wrecked forever in 1972 in Munich, West Germany. At 4.30am on 5 September eight masked men broke into the Olympic Village and entered the Israeli athletes’ quarters. They were members of Black September, a group with Palestinian sympathies who also wanted to see the overthrow of King Hussein of Jordan.
Two Israelis, wrestling coach Mosche Weinberger and weightlifter Josef Romano, fought back against the terrorists and were killed. Nine hostages were taken. The terrorists demanded that 234 Palestinians and non-Arabs should be freed from Egyptian prisons. They also wanted Andreas Baader and Ulrike Meinhof (see opposite) released. The West German authorities refused to free anyone, but instead offered vast amounts of money, only to be rebuffed, “Money means nothing to us. Our lives mean nothing to us.”
On 5 September the terrorists demanded to be taken to Cairo and at 10.10pm two helicopters took them and their hostages to Füstenfeldbrück airfield. Snipers were sited around the area but were not given telescopic sights for their weaponry. A 727 aircraft waited to take the terrorists onto their journey, staffed by German police posing as cabin crew. As the helicopters hove into view the police aboard the aeroplane aborted their mission and left it empty.
Munich, West Germany
4.30am Tuesday 5-12.06am Wednesday 6 September 1972
As the terrorists reached the 727 and saw that it was empty, they realized that they had been double-crossed. At that moment the snipers opened fire, killing two terrorists but the rest made it to safety. The hostages were tied up and unable to move from the helicopters. In the confusion the
West German police began shooting at their own snipers. At 12.06am on 6 September the terrorist began shooting the hostages. In all, 17 people died — 11 members of the Israeli team, one policeman and five hostages.