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1972: Massacre in Munich
The Olympic Games in Munich will always be overshadowed by the murder of the entire Israeli team, killed after they were taken hostage by Palestinian militants.

The tense stand-off between gunmen and police at the Olympic Village was played out in front of TV viewers worldwide.

Three helicopters took the Israelis and the gunmen to a military airfield outside Munich to catch a flight out of Germany.

A rescue attempt by German police went horribly wrong and ended in a gunfight. Nine Israeli hostages were blown up in a helicopter. Two had been shot earlier at the Olympic Village.

Your memories:

I was a newspaper delivery boy at the time and I recall getting to the shop and helping to untie bundles of newspapers.

I was not aware of what had happened during the night and when I saw the wrap sheets (covering the papers to be sold) the headline on one of the tabloids was 'Rescued'.

It was only when I looked at the papers inside headlined 'Massacre' that I realised they had all died.

I wish now I had kept them. It showed what we all know. The newspapers would sell whatever the headline.

My memory seemed to believe it all lasted longer than a day, or maybe it just felt like it. Seeing the film and reading the book 'One day in September' told me much I did not know.

At no stage did those athletes ever have a chance of getting out alive. If the terrorists had not killed them, the bungling West German police may well have.

So sad whatever the country, reason or religion.
Bill Voice, England

I remember this tragedy very well. I was mesmerised by the coverage on our ABC television network, which was broadcasting the Summer Olympics.

It all seemed so terribly unreal, especially when I thought back to the Opening Ceremony, and how the Munich Olympics Organising Committee tried so hard to make people forget the last time the Summer Games were held in Germany: the Nazi Games in Berlin, in 1936.

No one really seemed to know what was happening - rumours were flying thick and fast, and ABC News' correspondents (particularly Peter Jennings, who was in the Middle East at the time) were joining with their colleagues at ABC Sports, trying to make sense out of it all.

But the saddest part, for me, was when the definite word of the Israeli athletes' deaths at the airport came through.

ABC Sports' Olympic anchor Jim McKay, who'd been on the air over 24 hours, looked into the camera, told the viewers the awful news, and said simply: "They're all gone."

It gives me chills, even three decades on.
Pat Finnegan, USA

Whilst working at the Games for my American employers as a guest of the Canadian Olympic Association, I stayed in the Press village with correspondents of the Canadian Press Corps.

Our rooms were opposite the Israelis athletes' quarters.

We had a grandstand view of the day's events, including the final departure to the airport in the evening of the police convoy, lights flashing, sirens screaming.

It was during all this that I witnessed something I will never forget.

It was one of the Canadian reporters (name forgotten) who had a direct telephone connection to his radio station, (I think it was CBS and networked all over).

He was able to broadcast live for hours without hesitation, giving a graphic commentary of the happenings outside our vantage point.
Arthur Kennedy, UK

The thing that stands out in my memory about the Munich tragedy is the ineptitude of the German authorities in dealing with the crisis, and the ignominious decision of Germany (in cahoots with the Palestinians) to hand over the three remaining terrorists to [Libya] where they enjoyed heroes' welcomes, and never faced trial.

Where is the justice? This was a slap in the face to Jews everywhere, but more importantly, to the concept of justice and equal treatment under the law.
Chris, UK

I watched the whole coverage of this terrible tragedy. In my estimation the loss of the Israeli hostages at Munich airport was entirely due to the unbelievable incompetence of the Chief of Police. The Germans should never have started firing. The shooting of just one terrorist was all it needed. It is an experience I will never forget.
Anthony Jacubs, UK (2003)

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Furstenfeldbruck airport, Germany
Nine athletes were killed as they sat in helicopters at a military airport


Three protesters hold Israeli flag
Protesters marked the tragedy in London with a silent vigil

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