Contemporary / History

The evil sentence “The games must go on” 1972 and 2012

Yesterday there was a memorial service in Fürstenfeldbruck for the victims of the terrorist attacks in during the Olympic Games in Munich on the 5th September 1972. Nine hostages were killed in the attack and a police officer died. I took the effort to see live in BR, local provincial TV. The world/CNN did not care.

There was a remarkable – and understandable emotional  – speech of Mr. Graumann, President of the German association of Jews. Grauman stated that the sentence “the games must go on” by IOC President Avery Brundage “was cool and cold” disregarding the victims. So was the decision of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), to refuse the “minute of silence” during the opening of Olympic Games to appease Arabic interests. I do agree with this but for other reasons. The decision to continue the games after a short break 1972 was a political wrong decision, giving the impression that in the West money stands high above moral and human lives. 2012, yes that seems more correct than ever.

Munich’s Mayor Christian Ude asked for fairness – despite the obvious shortcomings of the authorities the “exclusive guilt of the “perpetrators” should be remembered. The deeds of the Palestinian terrorists should never been be forgotten nor excused. I do agree with this as well. Besides of the dilettantism of the German authorities, the Israeli authorities were indirectly involved in the disaster of Munich. A Government’s internal government report said that in particular the Israeli Embassy in Bonn was “responsible for the fiasco”, since the security officer of the Embassy would have to ask for a security concept by the German authorities for the Israeli Olympic team. Journalist and intelligence expert Yossi Melman : “two things have surprised me: first, that there was evidence of the attack, though no concrete –  ten days before the attack and this is the biggest surprise – no efforts were made to protect the Israeli team.” Recently we know, German authorities had the information too.

Both, Mr. Graumann and Christian Ude connected Munich 1972 with Berlin 1936.  Mr. Graumann stressed the  continuation via Avery Brundage (IMHO  referring to some major dissent between IOC and Jewish organisations 1936 and an issue 1972 about the appointment of Leni Riefenstahl as a photugrapher) whereas current Munich’s Mayor Christian Ude used the discontinuation (contrast to 1936) as an excuse not providing not enough police. I politely disagree with both. The terrorist gave 1972 Munich its famous five minutes of Andy Warhol and Munich and Germany failed utterly. It was a trailer of today’s Mama state lacking any warrior archetype.

The West failed 1936 and 1972, ignoring its values, not understanding the evil paradigm. Brundage, like many others in the Olympics movement, initially considered 1934 moving the Games from Germany. It then emerged victorious from the 1936 Olympiad. Its athletes captured the most medals overall, and German hospitality and organization won the praises of visitors. Most newspaper accounts agreed  with The New York Times that the Games put Germans “back in the fold of nations”.  Broad acceptance continued well after the Olympics with the international release in 1938 of Olympia, Leni Riefenstahl’s brilliant film documentary of the Games which won many international prices. It is still true, what Avery Brundage, president of the American Olympic Committee 1936, stated: “The very foundation of the modern Olympic revival will be undermined if individual countries are allowed to restrict participation by reason of class, creed, or race.” But if some threaten to stay away – as 2012 – let them.

As a Munich native I feel sad for the victims of the terrorist attacks and that 1972 Munich was not a better host.