At 4:30 a.m. on September 5, 1972, a band of Palestinian terrorists took eleven Israeli athletes and coaches hostage at the Summer Olympics in Munich. More than 900 million viewers followed the chilling, twenty-hour event on television, as German authorities desperately negotiated with the terrorists. Finally, late in the evening, two helicopters bore the terrorists and their surviving hostages to Munich's little-used Fürstenfeldbruck airfield, where events went tragically awry. Within minutes all of the Israeli athletes, five of the terrorists, and one German policeman were dead.
Why did the rescue mission fail so miserably? And why were the reports compiled by the German authorities concealed from the public for more than two decades? Reeves takes on a catastrophe that permanently shifted the political spectrum with a fast-paced narrative that covers the events detail by detail. Based on years of exhaustive research, One Day in September is the definitive account of one of the most devastating and politically explosive tragedies of the late twentieth century, one that set the tone for nearly thirty years of renewed conflict in the Middle East.
The hope that the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich would be a positive experience for all changed dramatically when, early in the morning on September 5, armed terrorists from Black September, a faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), sneaked into the Olympic Village, killing one Israeli athlete and taking 11 Israelis hostage. On the following day, a botched rescue attempt by the German police resulted in the deaths of all the captives. Though the International Olympic Committee decided that the games should go on, Israel was outraged, and the world reeled from the terrorism they had viewed on their television sets. In ONE DAY IN SEPTEMBER, Simon Reeve, a journalist and terrorism expert, explains how the terror raid was planned and carried out, and describes Israel's swift and severe response: Golda Meir, Israel's Prime Minister, gave the go-ahead for Operation Wrath of God, and Mossad, Israel's secret service, hunted down Black September leaders in Europe and the Middle East. Munich, 1972, is considered a significant event in the Arab-Israeli conflict and in the war on terror. While Palestinians saw it as the event that brought their cause worldwide attention, the Israeli government hardened its stance against terror. In 1973 there was a major war in the region, and in 1976 Israel responded to another hostage crisis at the Entebbe airport with a commando raid that successfully freed over 100 hostages. Reeve writes movingly of the enduring sense of loss felt by the families of those who were killed, and their long struggle to get a full accounting of the event from the German government in the face of a 20-year cover-up. He closes with a chapter in which he interviews some of those on both sides who were affected by the Munich incident, and finds, 30 years later, hope for peace that did not exist in 1972.
- Sports + Recreation
- August 1, 2011
- August 1, 2011
- Simon Reeve