RANGER AGAINST WAR: Munich Massacre, Revisited <

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Munich Massacre, Revisited

--Palestinian kidnapper, Munich, September 1972

We're gonna take you back, to the year 1939
when Charlie Chaplin and his Nazi regime enslaved Europe
and tried to take over the world...
But then an even greater force emerged, the U.N.
and the U.N. un-nazied the world - forever 
--Idiocracy (2006) 

When my love swears that she is made of truth, 
I do believe her though I know she lies, 
That she might think me some untutored youth, 
Unlearned in the world's false subtleties 
--Sonnet 138, Shakespeare

When the Second World War
Came to an end
We forgave the Germans
And we were friends
Though they murdered six million
In the ovens they fried
The Germans now too
Have God on their side 
--With God on Our Side, Bob Dylan 

If I listened long enough to you 
I'd find a way to believe that it's all true 
Knowing that you lied straight-faced while I cried 
Still I look to find a reason to believe 
--Reason to Believe, Tim Hardin 

Der Speigel last July printed newly-released data concerning the 1972 Munich Massacre, in which nine Israeli athletes were murdered before their participation in the games. These official releases are distressing because they reveal the advance warning and the apparent complicity of members with the German government and police system.

The Germans led the world to believe that the criminal operatives which carried out the murders -- Black September -- were James Bond-level agents executing a split-second attack scenario; the truth is far less impressive.  The Palestinians had not even secured adequate lodging in Munich prior to their arrival, and ended up on the wrong floor of the Olympic village before stumbling into the Israeli quarters.

In 1972 Ranger recalls the dismay among professional shooters that the Germans botched the rescue attempt with inadequate and unplanned fire distribution.  [The event is tangentially related to current discussions on gun control in the United States: How could 11 AK-47's turn up in Munich, in a nation with tight borders and strict gun control laws?]

The German rifleman lacked designated sectors of fire and assigned targets; each was allowed his own selection of target in what amounted to a Chinese fire drill -- not very German, at all. Such amateur hour action surely was an insult to the memory of Otto Skorzeny. (forgetting the abject failure to provide security the Israeli athletes in the first place.) 

Another German failure was when the authorities allowed the situation to escalate by allowing the hostage takers to go mobile -- with grenades and rifles! A hostage barricade should NEVER be allowed to go mobile.  What concessions did the Palestinians make that allowed them to move to the airfield?  Who was the Hostage Negotiator?  What was his relationship to the reaction force leader?  What was the command and control structure between these elements? 

Further, where was the Israeli security for their team members prior to the incident? Was Israeli intelligence asleep at the wheel?  Where were the layers of security usually seen at Olympic events?

During the years Ranger instructed  U.S. Army classes on Counter-terrorism, the word was that Munich was a crack operation, and the Germans did everything in their power to prevent the loss of life; the reality 40 years on does not accord with the myth. At the time, he did not believe the hype, but the United States had hoped that Germany had fully joined the sphere of Western nations, and so went the story.  Even today, U.S. policy is to portray terrorism in an unrealistically elevated manner which exaggerates the threat level.  The aura of the crack terrorist is a safe cover for our failures to address the threat adequately. 

Terrorists then and now are not super operatives.  Even the perpetrators of the events of 9-11-01 conducted their crimes on classically soft targets; trained operatives choose hard targets. The Israeli Olympians were sitting ducks; as with the operatives of 9-11, there was nothing brave or magical about this Palestinian operation.  The fact that no Palestinian was jailed long-term for this outrage against humanity also went against the Western policy of not dealing with terrorists, but realpolitik, or whatever you wish to call it, required we look the other way.

So 40 years later we learn some fragments of the truth neutralizing the mystique of the blitzkrieg terror operatives, eroding a bit of the self-serving, non-truthful analysis of a gravely significant world event. It was a convenient lie, and we were willing dupes in order to facilitate the facade of friendly relations with Germany, a key ally who fed us their fake version of the events. 

We wonder, what will be the revelations to emerge from the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) years after the tales of fictional mushroom bombs and roving chemical labs have become the stuff of vague memories?  The 9-11 Commission report is being revealed to have been based upon fabrications; the whole truth will be revealed, possibly, after several decades.

It was the same with the Warren Commission Report on President Kennedy's assassination.  The full text has yet to be revealed to the public.  When it was first released, 2036 was the end-date for complete release; now, 2017 is the date.  People don't care that much 50 years later; times moves on.

The recent revelations of German active and/or passive complicity with terrorists casts a pall upon the behavior of erstwhile civilized governments vis-a-vis their disliked populations. Germany suffers a history of malignancy and dysfunction ... is the U.S. at the beginning of its downward trajectory?

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Blogger FDChief said...

Dunno of the failings of GSG-9 at Munich are a sort of reflection of the overall failing and dysfunction of the BRD. The bottom line was that nobody was that good at this sort of operation at that time. The Israelis were probably the best, given their performance at Entebbe but the two situations were very different. Hostage rescues when the captors are indifferent to their own lives are damn deadly difficult.

I would tend to agree with you that we have a LOT of problems here in the U.S. with getting honest information out of our own government. But a large part of the problem IMO is that there is a fairly substantial portion of us who don't WANT honesty if honesty exposes our own shortcomings and misbehaviors. That's a toxic way to think, but it's not exactly unheard of or unique to either Germany in 1972 or the U.S. of today...

Monday, March 25, 2013 at 2:23:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous jim at ranger said...

I believe that gsg9 was not formed until after 1972.
The Germans had police with SS war background still serving during this event. I just can't believe that they forgot the basics of hostage barricade situations. These events ARE never allowed to go mobile.
The hostage takers were NOT indifferent to their own lives. If they were there would have been no alive BS members arrested.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013 at 9:57:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger FDChief said...

jim: Good catch - I note that GSG-9 was FORMED because of the failure in Munich...

Still, I think that the early Seventies was still early in the anti-terrorism game. I'm not sure that most developed nations would now respond more competently to a similar incident.

The problem being, of course, that the G's learn, too. You'll notice that nobody hijacks planes for hostages anymore. I'll bet that now after 9/11 the notion of airliners as kamikazes has lost it usefulness.

So the move-countermove continues and probably will; there's just too many people with an axe to grind not to have this sort of thing not happen again...

Tuesday, March 26, 2013 at 10:03:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous jim at ranger said...

Let's keep this on the crime level and just forget the concept of Terror.
-they had to do intel/surveillance
-they had to smuggle wps and needed gear
- they had to ingress and egress
-they had to negotiate and deal with the police reaction.
-they had to have safe haven coord before the execution phase.
My point is ,as always that police functions work against T's.

I doubt that there will ever be another 9-11 type event ONLY BECAUSE they people with agendas DO NOT have the operational sophistication to pull off a phased type ,complex operation.

We have not had a similar atk because they are unable to pull it off, not b/c we are so securely defended by all of our crazy levels of security.

Again i say- Hostage takers must never be allowed to go mobile.
In fact GSG9 has a vehicle that they use for HN situations that can be shut down by a flick of a switch. The Hostage takers think they are getting a get away car , but they are being sucked into a kill zone.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013 at 8:54:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous CholoAzul said...

In the absence of larger than life heroes, we apparently need larger than life enemies.

Monday, April 1, 2013 at 1:10:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

Interesting, cholo.

I would say that despite the dearth of larger-than-life heroes, we still like to imagine our enemies as Goliaths, in order to mitigate our ubiquitous failures.

They might be giants ...

Monday, April 1, 2013 at 10:50:00 AM GMT-5  

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