Israeli Athletes Return to Munich Massacre Scene, 40 Years On

Article Summary
In honor of the upcoming 40th anniversary of the Munich massacre, seven of the Israeli survivors of the 1972 Munich Olympics terror attack returned last week to the emotionally laden scene of the Olympic Village, where eleven of their teammates were taken hostage and murdered.

In September 1972, when those cursed Olympic Games were taking place, the seven Israeli athletes — Shaul Ladany, Henry Hershkowitz, Dan Alon, Zelig Shtorch‏, Gad Zabari, Yehuda Weinstein and Avraham Melamed — were sharing an apartment in the Olympic Village. On September 5, Palestinian terrorists broke into the adjoining apartments. Their friends and teammates were taken hostage, and the seven were spared by mere chance. Overwhelmed with grief, the surviving athletes returned home with the coffins of their murdered friends — and they have been keeping silent ever since. For 40 years, they never discussed the events of that night.

Now, a first-of-its-kind documentary, a coproduction of the Israeli History Channel and the German Biography Channel, brings them together for the first time since. The documentary, which is scheduled for airing just before the Olympic Games open in London in July, tells the story of the massacre from the point of view of the immediate survivors, those who were but a thin wall away from death.

Sitting in the studio built inside the Olympic village, the survivors talked openly, as they had never done before, about their murdered friends. They shared their feelings of guilt and talked about giving up their professional sport careers following the tragic events. "I still wonder whether I did the right thing when I didn’t shoot the terrorists’ leader, who was but a few meters away from me,” disclosed the team's marksman Zelig Shtorch.

Emanuel Rotstein, the documentary director and producer, who had come up with idea for the project, thanked the Israeli athletes, noting: "They have laid bare their hearts, sharing with us the darkest moments of their lives."

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