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Lest we forget

In 1972, Munich was awarded the 18th Summer Olympic Games. It was the first Olympics in Germany since the propaganda-inflected Games of 1936; as is always the case, hosting the Olympic Games was a matter of some national pride. There were 7,173 athletes from 121 nations present.

Mark Spitz won his seven gold medals at that games, with seven world records. Ulrike Meyfarth became the youngest person to win a gold medal in an individual event, in the high jump, at age 16. Olga Korbut became a media star and ushered in an era of gymnastics obsession.

At 5 AM on September 5th, eight Palestinian terrorists broke into the Olympic Village and knocked on the door of Moshe Weinberg. Weinberg was the wrestling coach for the Israeli team. The terrorists killed Weinberg and Joseph Romano, and took nine other Israelis hostage: Kehat Shorr, David Berger, Yaacov Shpringer, Mark Slavin, Andre Spitzer, Zeev Friedman, Yosef Guttfreund, Eliezor Halfin, and Amitsur Shapira. At 9:30, the terrorists — members of Black September, which later proved to be a PLO faction — demanded the release of 200 terrorists (most Arab, but two Germans, the leaders of the Red Army Faction) and passage out of Germany.

Golda Meir, then Prime Minister of Israel, refused to make concessions. In conjunction with Israeli officials, the German police on hand planned to get the terrorists to an airport under the pretense of negotiation, and to kill the terrorists there. Tragically, they underestimated the number of terrorists involved and did not provide enough snipers for the operation.

By 3 AM the following morning, the crisis had ended with the deaths of all the Israeli hostages and most of the terrorists. Three terrorists were taken prisoner. On October 29th, a plane flying from Syria to Germany was hijacked; the hijackers demanded the release of the captured terrorists. Germany capitulated.

In the years following, Mossad operatives were tasked with hunting down and killing those responsible for the Munich tragedy. For the most part, they succeeded. In one case, they killed the wrong person — Ahmed Bouchiki, in Lillehammer.

Germany has not hosted an Olympics since. In April of 1998, the Red Army Faction officially disbanded following a long period of inactivity.

I chronicle this because the Vice President of the United States of America forgot.

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