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Hanns-Braun-Brücke, Olympiapark, Olympiaturm, Muenchen, Munich, Bavaria, Bayern, Germany, fotoeins.com

Munich: Memorials to the 1972 Olympics Massacre

Above/featured: Munich’s Olympic Park: Olympic Tower and the tent roof structure.

In my hockey-mad nation of birth, September 1972 is defined by the epic hockey Summit Series between Canada and the Soviet Union; the games and individual stories are stuff of legends. But high on my mind since childhood have been the tragic events that same month in Munich: the worst terrorist act in modern Olympics history.

The 20th Summer Olympics were under way in Munich, Germany, and “The Carefree Games” as they were called were the first summer games held in Germany since Berlin in 1936. Both Munich and Germany wanted to show a different peaceful and prosperous side to the world with the generation born after the Second World War.

However, the 1972 Games will also carry the stain of the “Munich Massacre” on 5-6 September. By crisis’ end, the 17 dead included eleven members of the Israeli Olympic team, one German police officer, and five Palestinian kidnappers. Many questions remained about pre-Game preparations and warnings about a possible attack, security measures, crisis management, and the failed attempt to liberate the hostages. Complete details of events remain murky even after 40 years. The disaster would damage the reputations of city, state, and country as well as international relations for years to come.


Below is a short pictorial description of sites in Munich’s Olympic Park and Olympic Village, memorializing those killed during the events of 5-6 September 1972.

1.   U-Bahn Olympiazentrum

At street level, there are blue information panels located near the U-Bahn station’s north entrance. A panel describes each of the following three locations in German, English, French, and Hebrew.

U Olympiazentrum, U-Bahn, MVG, Muenchen Olympiapark, Munich Olympic Park, Munich, Muenchen, 1972 Summer Olympics, Bavaria, Bayern, Germany, fotoeins.com

Description panels at street level at the northern exit/entrance to the U-Bahn station.

U Olympiazentrum, U-Bahn, MVG, Muenchen Olympiapark, Munich Olympic Park, Munich, Muenchen, 1972 Summer Olympics, Bavaria, Bayern, Germany, fotoeins.com

Memorial locations: 1972 Olympics Attack (Gedenkorte Olympia-Attentat).


2.   Gedenktafel für die ermordeten israelischen Sportler (Connollystr. 31)

On 5 September 1972, members of the Palestinian terrorist organization “Black September” entered the Olympic Village and stormed the residence of the Israel Olympic Team at Connollystrasse 31. In the process of taking eleven athletes hostage, two were killed. The following day, authorities tried to free the hostages at Fürstenfeldbruck air field. The attempt failed; killed were the nine remaining hostages, one German police officer, and five abductors. Next to the entrance at Connollystrasse 31 is a Gedenktafel (memorial plaque) with the names of 6 athletes and 5 coaches from Israel.

Connollystrasse 31, Olympiadorf, Olympic Village, Muenchen Olympiapark, Munich Olympic Park, Munich, Muenchen, 1972 Summer Olympics, Bavaria, Bayern, Germany, fotoeins.com

Approaching the building at Connollystrasse 31.

Connollystrasse 31, Olympiadorf, Olympic Village, Muenchen Olympiapark, Munich Olympic Park, Munich, Muenchen, 1972 Summer Olympics, Bavaria, Bayern, Germany, fotoeins.com

Entrance to Connollystrasse 31.

Connollystrasse 31, Olympiadorf, Olympic Village, Muenchen Olympiapark, Munich Olympic Park, Munich, Muenchen, 1972 Summer Olympics, Bavaria, Bayern, Germany, fotoeins.com

Commemorative plaque to the murdered Israeli athletes: In diesem Gebäude wohnte während der XX. Olympischen Sommerspiele die Mannschaft des Staates Israel vom 21. August bis zum 5. September 1972. Am 5. September starben eines gewaltsames Todes: David Berger, Seew Friedman, Josef Gutfreund, Elieser Halfin, Josef Romano, Amizur Shapira, Kehat Shorr, Mark Slavin, Andre Spitzer, Jaakow Springer, Mosche Weinberger. Ehre Ihrem Andenken. (The Israel national team stayed at this location for the 20th Olympic Summer Games from 21 August to 5 September 1972. Killed on 5 September were: David Berger, Seew Friedman, Josef Gutfreund, Elieser Halfin, Josef Romano, Amizur Shapira, Kehat Shorr, Mark Slavin, Andre Spitzer, Jaakow Springer, Mosche Weinberger. In honour of their memory.)


3.   Denkmal für die Opfer des Olympiaattentats 1972

At the north end of Hanns-Braun-Brücke bridge is Fritz Koenig’s 1995 sculpture “Klagebalken” (Wailing Beam), serving as reminder and warning against terrorism. The large rectangular ten-metre long slab of granite comes from the rock quarry at Flossenbürg, near the Nazi concentration camp which bears the same place name. Inscribed onto the stone are the names of the eleven Israeli athletes (in Hebrew) and the name of one German police officer (in Latin). The memorial sculpture is called “Denkmal für die Opfer des Olympiaattentats 1972” (Memorial to the victims of the 1972 Olympics massacre), and is complementary to the memorial plaque at Connollystrasse 31. On the pavement in front of the sculpture is a small plaque; see also below.

Denkmal für die Opfer des Olympiaattentats 1972, Klagebalken, Wailing Beam, Olympiapark, Muenchen, Munich, Bavaria, Bayern, Germany, fotoeins.com

“Klagebalken”, by Fritz Koenig, 1995. The diagonal carrier rope anchors the tent roof structure further in the park; see below.

Denkmal für die Opfer des Olympiaattentats 1972, Klagebalken, Wailing Beam, Olympiapark, Muenchen, Munich, Bavaria, Bayern, Germany, fotoeins.com

“Grenzstein des Lebens, Nicht der Idee. Während der Spiele der XX Olympiade in München erlitten elf israelische Sportler und ein deutscher Polizeibeamter am 5. September 1972 durch einen terroristischen Anschlag einen gewaltsamen Tod.” (Border stone of life, and not the idea. During the 20th Summer Olympics in Munich, eleven Israeli athletes and one German police were killed during a terrorist attack on the 5th of September 1972.)

Hanns-Braun-Brücke, Olympiapark, Olympiaturm, Muenchen, Munich, Bavaria, Bayern, Germany, fotoeins.com

From sculpture, to Hanns-Braun-Brücke bridge, and south to Olympic Tower and the rest of Olympic park. Note the carrier rope for the tent roof beyond.


4.   Erinnerungsort Olympia-Attentat München 1972

The place of remembrance “Erinnerungsort Olympia-Attentat München 1972” was inaugurated in 2017. Panels provide short histories for each of the Israeli athletes killed, and a video display with collected television footage shows the timeline of events. The memorial also illuminates the politics of the time, the significance of Germany’s first Olympics after the Second World War, and long-standing friction in the Middle East. From this place of remembrance, the view north-northeast faces the former Olympic Village (Olympiadorf) which is a part of the overall Olympic Park heritage ensemble (Olympiapark Denkmal-Ensemble) since 1998.

Erinnerungsort Olympia-Attentat München 1972, Muenchen Olympiapark, Munich Olympic Park, Munich, Muenchen, 1972 Summer Olympics, Bavaria, Bayern, Germany, fotoeins.com

Erinnerungsort Olympia-Attentat München 1972.

Erinnerungsort Olympia-Attentat München 1972, Muenchen Olympiapark, Munich Olympic Park, Munich, Muenchen, 1972 Summer Olympics, Bavaria, Bayern, Germany, fotoeins.com Erinnerungsort Olympia-Attentat München 1972, Muenchen Olympiapark, Munich Olympic Park, Munich, Muenchen, 1972 Summer Olympics, Bavaria, Bayern, Germany, fotoeins.com Erinnerungsort Olympia-Attentat München 1972, Muenchen Olympiapark, Munich Olympic Park, Munich, Muenchen, 1972 Summer Olympics, Bavaria, Bayern, Germany, fotoeins.com Erinnerungsort Olympia-Attentat München 1972, Muenchen Olympiapark, Munich Olympic Park, Munich, Muenchen, 1972 Summer Olympics, Bavaria, Bayern, Germany, fotoeins.com
Erinnerungsort Olympia-Attentat München 1972, Muenchen Olympiapark, Munich Olympic Park, Munich, Muenchen, 1972 Summer Olympics, Bavaria, Bayern, Germany, fotoeins.com

Memorial location with the Olympic Tower behind.

Olympiadorf, Olympic Village, Muenchen Olympiapark, Munich Olympic Park, Munich, Muenchen, 1972 Summer Olympics, Bavaria, Bayern, Germany, fotoeins.com

Northeast to Olympiadorf (Olympic Village).


Other views & perspectives

•   Summary of the 20th Summer Olympics in Munich, CBC Sports (Canada).
•   6 September 1972, report by Bob Moir for CBC News (Canada).
•   How Canadian athletes were unwittingly tied to the tragedy: 2012 report by Ioanna Roumeliotis, for CBC News (Canada).

•   Could the massacre have been prevented?, from Deutsche Welle Germany (in English).
•   1972 report and 2012 series: here, here, and here: from Germany’s “Der Spiegel” (in English).


Click on the arrow-window icon at the upper-left corner of the map below for the legend. Starting from U-Bahn station Olympiazentrum, you can follow the suggested path to the memorial plaque at Connollystrasse 31, the “Klagebalken” memorial sculpture, and finally to the Place of Remembrance. The length of the path is about 1.3 kilometres (0.8 mile) one-way.

I made all pictures above on 2 June 2018 with a Fujifilm X70 fixed-lens prime; alle Fotoaufnahmen sind mit Wasserzeichen versehen worden. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-cn4.

2 Responses to “Munich: Memorials to the 1972 Olympics Massacre”

  1. www.corneliaweber-photography.com

    Thank you for this post. I was there back than when I lived in Germany. I will never ever forget that day, I was working at the Olympic shopping mall , just a few feet away from the happening, being there we were all so terrified, what was going. Immediatley every thing was shut down, waiting for the moment being safe again.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

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