Masked Man at the Munich Massacre
The Munich Olympics looked to be one of the greatest Olympics in games history. Nicknamed the “Happy Olympics” the events that took place in the second of week of events would change all that and forever link the Munich Olympics with the slaughter of 11 team embers of the Israeli team. Of all the pictures taken by media covering the event one taken by Kurt Strumpf of one of the masked terrorists overlooking the balcony of the Israeli team quarters has stood the test of time. The picture is now synonymous with what is now known as the Munich Massacre.
The Black September Organization (BSO) was a Palestinian militant group, founded in 1970. The group took their name from the conflict known as Black September when King Hussein of Jordan attacked Palestinian militant groups, killing thousands, after they attempted to take over Jordan. The group was originally formed to take revenge against the King and Jordan’s government but expanded into anti-Israeli attacks. Its members came from various countries with Palestinian refugee camps, and they carried out a number of terrorist activities, including their most infamous attack the, Munich Massacre.
The 1972 Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XX Olympiad, were held in Munich, West Germany, from 26 August to 11 September 1972. It was the second time Germany had held the Olympics–the first being during the Hitler’s reign in 1936–and the Germans hoped to erase their Nazi past with a happy and free Olympics. The West German Olympic Organizing Committee tried to do this by creating an open and friendly atmosphere. Security was deliberately lax, and athletes and support staff came and went with only cursory checks.
The Black September Organization (BSO) had planned the attack extensively and even had members working in the village. Taking advantage of the lax security, the eight terrorists jumped a fence dressed as athletes and, despite a struggle while entering the Israeli compound, where two Israeli athletes were killed, managed to hold nine Israeli athletes hostage in their Olympic village apartment. After a series of failed negotiations, the terrorists and their hostages were taken to the military airport of Faurstenfeldbruck. There the West German government attempted to rescue them, but they bungled the poorly planned raid, and all the hostages were killed, along with five of the terrorists. The three survivors were arrested but later released in exchange for a German Lufthansa passenger jet that was hijacked in October of that year.
The massacre led Germany to realize the inadequacy of its approach to combat terror and to create the elite counter-terrorist unit GSG 9 to address future incidents. It also led Israel to launch an aggressive counter-terrorism campaign known as Operation Wrath of God, which Steven Spielberg based his movie, Munich
Taking the picture
It is often reported that Kurt Strumpf took the picture while covering the event from the Puerto Rican team quarters inside the apartment but Strumpf took the picture from outside the village. It was AP writers Karol Stonger and Bill Ritz who were able to get into the Puerto Rican team apartment.