Mas­sacre in Munich: How Ter­ror­ists Changed the Olympics and the World

Don Nar­do
  • Review
March 24, 2017

This book is part of a series that uses an icon­ic pho­to as a door­way to exam­in­ing an event in depth. In this case, it’s the chill­ing pho­to­graph (by pho­tog­ra­ph­er Kurt Strumpf) from the 1972 Munich Olympic Games of a hood­ed Pales­tin­ian ter­ror­ist on the bal­cony of the dor­mi­to­ry where the Israeli ath­letes were being housed. The author gives a good account of the lead-up to the Olympics and the deter­mi­na­tion of the post-WWII Ger­man gov­ern­ment to por­tray a new, demo­c­ra­t­ic soci­ety that wel­comed all nations to the games. Eight Black Sep­tem­ber ter­ror­ists had a very dif­fer­ent agen­da, one that even­tu­al­ly end­ed at the air­port with the deaths of eleven Israeli hostages and all but three of the ter­ror­ists (two of whom were lat­er tracked down and killed by Israeli agents). The nar­ra­tive of the mas­sacre is told thought­ful­ly, unadorned and com­plete, giv­ing space in turn to per­pe­tra­tors, vic­tims, reporters, and police. All of the pho­tos are well-cho­sen and have a stun­ning pow­er. In this Olympic year, it’s an impor­tant sto­ry to pass down to a new gen­er­a­tion of Jews and non-Jews alike. Fit­ting­ly, final­ly, the 2016 Sum­mer Games set aside an area in the Olympic Vil­lage to com­mem­o­rate the attack, and a moment of reflec­tion was part of the clos­ing ceremony. 

The book makes a great addi­tion to a library or class­room, sure to lead to fur­ther group discussion.

Rec­om­mend­ed for ages 10 – 14.

Discussion Questions