On September 5-6, 1972, a massacre took place at this venue. It was the summer Olympics in Munich, Germany when members of the Israeli Olympic team were taken hostage and murdered by Black September, a militant group with ties to Yasser Arafat's Fatah organization.
Eleven Israeli athletes, coaches, and one police officer were killed. Five of the eight members of Black September were killed by police. The three surviving terrorists were released, following the hijacking by Black September of a Lufthansa airliner.
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Today, a memorial plaque lays outside of the park in the form of a stone tablet at the bridge linking the stadium to the former Olympic village. There is also a memorial tablet to the slain Israelis outside the front door of their former lodging at 31 Connollystrasse. And, on 15 October 1999, one year before the Sydney 2000 Games, a memorial plaque was placed in one of the light towers (Tower 14) outside the Sydney Olympic Stadium, and is still there today.
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This past weekend, the Olympia Park held a yearly festival called Tollwood. Instead of athletes, there were musicians, artists, ethnic food stalls, acrobats, jugglers, and entertainers. Instead of competition, there were large groups of people sharing common cultural experiences. I, however, could not help but wonder what this venue was like 37 years ago when terrorists took it upon themselves to cause carnage in Munich. Actually, World War II would have only been 26 years prior and the site of Olympia Park was only 10 miles from Dachau. How the Israeli's must have felt competing here.
In amongst all of the colors smiles, scents, and sounds, of the Tollwood Annual Festival, I still felt the murmur of the days gone by when many athletes chose to leave their contests out of respect for the dead and return home even though for those remaining, the games went on. I recalled reading what King Hussain of Jordan, the only Arab country to give a public statement, said: "It was a savage crime against civilization perpetrated by sick minds."
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