The State Archive on Wednesday released 45 documents pertaining to the 1972 Munich Massacre of 11 Israeli Olympians, including one in which then Mossad head Zvi Zamir complained that the German police "didn\’t make even a minimal effort to save human lives."
After 40 years, State Archives releases Munich papers
The documents were released to mark 40 years to the massacre, which took place on the night between September 5-6, 1972.
"If there is any tangible manifestation of schizophrenia, it was that night," then prime minister Golda Meir described the events when she sat with ministers and senior aides in her home in Jerusalem and followed reports of the developments in the operation to rescue the Israeli hostages at the Fürstenfeldbruck military airfield near Munich.
At first there was elation, when it seemed that the German rescue effort had succeeded. But that elation turned to despair when it became clear the effort failed, leading to the death of nine Israeli hostages.
Two Israelis were killed earlier when the terrorists scaled the fence of the Olympic village and burst into the Israeli residence.
The documents released chronicle the drama and its immediate aftermath through foreign ministry cables, minutes of cabinet meetings, minutes of meetings of the Knesset\’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee from the period, and official correspondence between Israeli and German officials.
Some of the documents have been edited to protect highly classified information.
The first document from September 5, 1972, was the first cable from the Israeli embassy in Bonn reporting that the German police reported that armed Palestinians carrying machine guns took over the Israeli residence at the Olympic village and were demanding the release of Palestinian prisoners in Israel.
The last one, from November 8, were foreign Ministry minutes of a meeting Meir had with the German ambassador following the tension that emerged when Germany released the three surviving Black September terrorists after the hijacking of a Lufthansa airliner in October.
The documents are divided into nine different sections:
– The first reports about the kidnappings until the failure of the German rescue operation
– Correspondence regarding the issue of whether the Olympic games will be stopped or suspended
– Documents dealing with how this would impact on Israeli-German ties in the future
– The German police\’s report on the operation and Zamir\’s harsh criticism of it
– German disapproval of Zamir\’s criticism
– The establishment of an Israeli commission – the Koppel Committee – to examine the security arrangements that existed for the Israeli athletes
– The Meir government\’s response to the Koppel Committee
– Conclusion drawn in the Knesset\’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee regarding active and passive ways to fight terrorists abroad
– Israel\’s response to the German government\’s decision to release the surviving terrorist after the Lufthansa airplane hijacking.