September 6th in German History: The Munich Massacre

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One of the terrorists on a balcony.

Germany has seen its fair share of terrorist attacks. Political and religious extremists have multiple times killed Germans so as to create fear or make a perverse point. However, less common are attacks on German soil that have targeted non-Germans. One such attack was the Munich massacre, which ended on September 6th, 1972.

On September 5th, 1972, members of the Palestinian terrorist group Black September took nine members of the Israeli Olympic team hostage, killing two members in the process. The takers demanded the release of 234 Palestinians in Israeli prisons and the release of the founders of the terrorist Red Army Faction from German prisons. Negotiations were held over a period of several hours but the terrorists refused to release the hostages. German police attempted a rescue, but failed after one of the Palestinians threatened to kill two hostages. Following the breakdown of negotiations the authorities feigned agreement to the terrorist’s demands. However, they planned to use snipers and police on rescue helicopters to extract the hostages and rescue the captives. However the police aboard the helicopter voted to abandon the mission and the sharpshooters were thus outnumbered and failed to overpower the terrorists before they slaughtered the athletes.

Certainly, the main consequence of the attack were the deaths of eleven Israelis and one German police officer. The attack also forced the postponement of the games for 34 hours. In revenge, over the next twenty years Israel carried out a series of assassinations against members of the Black September group. While certainly violent, this response was entirely necessary. Acts of terrorism cannot go unpunished, and surviving perpetrators make for excellent recruiters.

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