Today in History: Terrorist attacks at the Munich Olympics

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon
Remembering Munich Olympic Attack, 40 Years Later

On this day in 1972, the Olympics in Munich were ravaged by one of the most memorable terrorist events in history.

Eight Palestinian terrorists killed two Israeli Olympians. They took nine others hostage. The situation wasn't ended until a massive gunfight transpired, killing five of the terrorists and all of the hostages.

The events halted Olympic play for the first time in history.

Click through for more images from the games:
1972 Terrorist attacks at Munich Olympics
See Gallery
Today in History: Terrorist attacks at the Munich Olympics
FILE - In this Sept. 5, 1972, file photo, a masked terrorist stands on the balcony of the building where the Arab group Black September was holding members of the Israeli Olympic team hostage during the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany. Hours later, all nine hostages, five terrorists and one policeman from Munich were dead. Each time an Olympics approaches, the ideal is articulated once more: The true spirit of the games is to bring humanity together to promote amity and human excellence. But an undertone of politics has been present at every Olympics for the past several decades. (AP Photo/Kurt Strumpf, File)
FILE - In this Sept. 5, 1972 file photo, a West German border police helicopter is about to land at the Olympic Village in Munich, after terrorists held 13 Israelis hostage inside the village. The helicopter is reported to be ready to fly the terrorists to Munich airport if the West German goverment agrees to the demands of the terrorists. (AP Photo/File)
One of the Arab Terrorists at right, wearing a white hat, who broke into the Munich Village Sept.5, 1972, holds an animated conversation with two West German Plainclothes policmen outside the living quarters of the Israeli team, where terrorists are holding 13 Israeli hostages after killing two others. Another terrorist watches scene from window at right. Man in foreground, left, is Olympic security guard. (AP photo/stf)
West German sharpshooters work their way up buildings and over roofs in the Olympic Village in a futile attempt to get into position to confront Palestinian guerillas who are holding eleven Israeli athletes hostage Sept. 5, 1972. The hostages and guerillas were later transferred to an air field where West German security forces opened fire on the Palestinians, five of whom were killed along with the eleven Olympic athletes. (AP Photo)
A policeman, armed with a sub-machine gun, and a detective stand guard Sept. 5, 1972 near the location, above the policeman's right shoulder, where Arab terrorists were holding Israeli team members hostage. An explosion July 27, 1996 reverberated to the earlier incident at the Munich Olympic games. (AP Photo)
Two West German policemen, run for position, in this Sept. 5, 1972 photo, near the building in the Munich Olympic Village where Arab terrorists held 13 Israeli athletes hostage. (AP Photo)
Mark Spitz, right, American swimmer sits with his coach, Peter Daland, at a press conference, Sept. 5, 1972, after the arab terrorist attack on the Israeli athletes at the Summer Olympic Games Munich, Germany. (AP-Photo/stf)
A West German policeman, wearing an athlete sweatsuit and armed with a machine gun, takes position above the floor where Israeli Olympic team members are being held hostage in the Olympic Village in Munich, Germany, on Sept. 5, 1972. The masked head of one of the Arab commandos appears in a window at the lower left corner of the photograph. (AP Photo)
West German policemen in sportswear take positions atop the building facing the residence of the Israeli Olympic team members in the Olympic Village in Munich, Germany, on Sept. 5, 1972. The police plan to rush in to release the Israeli hostages being held by Arab terrorists. (AP Photo)
An Arab terrorist extends his hand as he talks with another terrorist, leaning from upper window, during discussions with Munich chief of police Manfred Schreiber, far left, and West German interior minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher on Sept. 5, 1972. They are outside the building of the Munich Olympic Village where 13 Israeli team members are being held hostage by the Arab terrorists. Other men in the group are, at lower left, two men in plain-clothes and an olympic security man wearing a white cap. (AP Photo)
West German police who have swapped their uniforms for anonymous athletes sweatsuits climb on the roof of the Munich Olympic village building where several members of the Israeli Olympic team were held hostage by armed commandos, Sept. 5, 1972. The police carry submachine guns. Other police surround the building. (AP photo)
Dr. Manfred Schreiber, Munich's chief of police, looks at his watch while discussing the deadline with an Arab terrorist, at right, outside the living quarters of the Israeli Olympic team at the Olympic Village in Munich, Germany, on Sept. 5, 1972. A group of Arab terrorists, armed with submachine guns, broke into the village and killed two Israeli team members and held 13 more hostage. The two men in the background are plainclothes police. (AP Photo)
Two west German policemen, armed with submachine guns and wearing athletes tracksuits, get into position on the roof of the building where armed Palestinian terrorists are holding Israel Olympic team members hostage. The terrorists have threatened to kill the hostages unless approximately 200 Palestinian terrorists held in Israel are released. Munich, Sep. 5, 1972. (AP Photo) ISRAEL OUT
Munich Police Chief, Dr Manfred Schreiber, answers questions at a press conference, Sep. 5, 1972, regarding the armed Palestinian terrorists who are holding Israel Olympic team members hostage and have threatened to kill them unless approximately 200 Palestinian terrorists held in Israel are released. (AP Photo) ISRAEL OUT
Demonstrators march outside the Olympic Village in Munich, Sept. 5, 1972, calling for the Olympic Games to be halted as armed Arab terrorists hold 12 of the Israeli team as hostages. (AP Photo)
Police reinforcements surround the Olympic Village in Munich, West Germany, September 5, 1972, after armed Arab terrorists kidnapped and are holding 13 hostages of the Israeli team and killed 2 Israeli team officials in the early morning hours. (AP Photo/Stf)
West German police officers with armoured vehicles enter the Olympic Village in Munich, West Germany, September 5, 1972, to take position near a building where Arab terrorists hold 13 Israeli hostages, after having killed two others earlier today. The arabs have threatend to kill their hostages unless 200 Arab terrorists held in Israel were released. (AP Photo/Anonymous)
A police officer blocks the entrance gate of the Olympic village in Munich, West Germany, Tuesday September 5, 1972 as two Australian athletes returning from early training try to get access. Doors were blocked following the murder of members of Israel's delegation taken hostage earlier. (AP Photo/Anonymous)
Members of the Munich Jewish community demonstrate outside the Munich village to ask that the Olympic games end after a group of Arab terrorists entered the village and held 13 Israelis hostage after killing two others, Sept. 5, 1972. (AP Photo)
Unidentified persons are seen on the Munich Olympic Village building where Arab terrorists are holding Israeli team members hostage, Sept. 5, 1972. Building provided quarters for Uruguay and Hong Kong teams besides housing the Israelis. (AP Photo)
An unidentified member of the Hong Kong team at the Olympic Village jumps out of the balcony of his apartment located in the same building where Arab guerillas are holding 13 Israeli hostages after killing two others in Munich, Sept. 5, 1972. (AP Photo)
The Israeli flag flies at half mast in the Munich Olympic Stadium on September 6, 1972, during memorial ceremony for 11 Israeli Olympic team members slain by Arab terrorists. (AP Photo)
Anonymous deposited flowers at the foot of the Olympic torch inside the Munich Olympic stadium September 6, 1972 during the memorial service for the eleven murdered Israeli team members. The 80,000-seat stadium was filled to capacity for the ceremony. (AP Photo)
National flags fly at half-staff around the Olympic torch in Munich, Germany September 6, 1972, in memory of the 11 Israeli athletes killed by Arab terrorists. (AP Photo)
The burned wreckage of helicopter, in which nine Israeli Olympic team members were held hostage and killed by Arab terrorists, rests at Fuerstenfeldbruck Air Base near Munich, West Germany, on Sept. 6, 1972. (AP Photo)
Blood stains mark the place where armed Palestinian terrorists killed 11 Israeli Olympic team members, after keeping them hostage for almost 18 hours. Munich, Sept. 6, 1972. (AP Photo) ISRAEL OUT
Blood stains and bullet holes mark the place where the Israeli weightlifter Moshe Romano was killed Sept. 7, 1972 by Arab commandos inside the Israeli Olympic team's quarters at the Olympic Village in Munich, West Germany. Photo shows the room where eight Israeli athletes were kept hostage for 18 hours. (AP Photo/str)
American Air Force officers carry the coffin of Israeli Olympic weight lifter David Berger inside a giant U.S. Air Force Starlifter cargo plane at this West German Air Force base, west of Munich, today. The plane took off for Cleveland, Ohio, where Berger's parents were waiting. Berger, 29, was one of the nine Israeli hostages murdered by terrorists late Tuesday night in a battle with West German police at the base. Berger, a native of Cleveland, immigrated two years ago to Israel. He had dual citizenship. (AP Photo)

More from
Top 10 storylines to watch for this NCAA football season
No. 3 Alabama's latest wave of blue-chippers set to play
Rutgers' Kyle Flood will coach opener despite investigation
Read Full Story

From Our Partners