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What Went Wrong in Munich

How oversensitivity toward Germany’s Nazi past contributed to the murder of 11 Israeli athletes in 1972

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A German policeman on the roof of a dormitory where members of the Black September terrorist group were holding a group of Israeli athletes hostage, Munich, Germany, Sept. 5, 1972. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
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Jewish Blood Is Cheap

The real reason the Olympic Committee refuses to commemorate the Israeli athletes murdered in Munich

With the start of the Summer Olympics just days away, the International Olympic Committee remains firm in its insistence that there will be no commemoration marking the tragedy that took place 40 years ago, at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany. It was there that 11 Israeli athletes and coaches were taken hostage and then murdered by a Palestinian terrorist group known as Black September. A German police officer and five of the hostage-takers also died in the standoff.

The United States, Germany, Australia, and Israel have called for a public remembrance at this summer’s games in London. Their efforts have been for naught. The IOC says it does not want to “politicize” the event with a memorial service even while international pressure—including from President Obama—to hold such a commemoration mounts.

David Clay Large is a historian of modern Germany who has written about the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Munich under Nazi rule, and, most recently, about the 1972 Olympic Games. He joins Vox Tablet host Sara Ivry to discuss what role Germany’s and Israel’s national identity played in the events leading up to the 1972 massacre, how the event is remembered in Germany and Israel today, and why the IOC is disingenuous in its refusal to have a memorial service this summer. [Running time: 22:00.] 

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What Went Wrong in Munich

How oversensitivity toward Germany’s Nazi past contributed to the murder of 11 Israeli athletes in 1972

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