MUNICH, Germany — 31 Connolly Strasse is not a tourist attraction.
There are no T-shirts or magnets or other useless tchotchkes for tourists to buy. In fact, the apartment building at this address doesn’t stand out as particularly significant – if one doesn’t know the history of what happened here.
In the early morning hours of Sept. 5, 1972, eight Palestinian terrorists, known as Black September, stormed into apartments here, killing two Israeli athletes and taking an additional nine athletes of the country’s Olympic team hostage. The episode – known as the Munich Massacre – ended tragically hours later at the Fürstenfeldbrücke airport.
“This is a trauma that will stay with us forever,” The Los Angeles Times quoted then-Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert as saying in a 2002 article. “Of all the modern terrorist events we have had, the one in Munich remains the worst.”
The events of Sept. 5 started when Arab terrorists entered the Olympic Village by scaling a six-foot-tall fence — apparently a somewhat common occurrence as the scene did not strike witnesses as odd. The situation was exacerbated by authorities’ botched response following a 20-hour standoff, and the nine Israeli hostages were killed following a gunfight at the airport — news that stunned an already shocked world.
“When I was a kid, my father used to say, ‘our greatest hopes and worst fears are seldom realized.’ Our worst fears have been realized tonight,” sportscaster Jim McKay said on ABC. “They have now said that there were 11 hostages. Two were killed in their rooms this morning — excuse me, yesterday morning. Nine were killed at the airport tonight. They’re all gone.”