Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
The 1972 Munich Olympics and the Making of Modern Germany

The 1972 Munich Olympics and the Making of Modern Germany

Kay Schiller
Christopher Young
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: 1
Pages: 368
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The 1972 Munich Olympics and the Making of Modern Germany
    Book Description:

    The 1972 Munich Olympics—remembered almost exclusively for the devastating terrorist attack on the Israeli team—were intended to showcase the New Germany and replace lingering memories of the Third Reich. That hope was all but obliterated in the early hours of September 5, when gun-wielding Palestinians murdered 11 members of the Israeli team. In the first cultural and political history of the Munich Olympics, Kay Schiller and Christopher Young set these Games into both the context of 1972 and the history of the modern Olympiad. Delving into newly available documents, Schiller and Young chronicle the impact of the Munich Games on West German society.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94758-0
    Subjects: History, Environmental Science

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-23)

    Telcon: 12:05—9/2/72

    Mr. Kissinger

    The President

    K: Mr. President.

    P: Oh, Henry, I was thinking—you know Fischer will be coming in having won that chess thing sometime. And I want you to see if we can get the other fella to come to[sic].

    K: Spassky.

    P: Yes, you know what I mean.

    K: Right.

    P: They have had a long match, etc.

    K: No, we better not, Mr. President, because Spassky is thinking of defecting and we better stay away.

    P: Oh, is he?

    K: Yes.

    P: OK. Thanks.¹

    As Richard Nixon soon learned in this brief...

  6. 2 Urban, State, and National Capital: Buying, Paying for, and Selling the Games
    (pp. 24-55)

    Hosting the Olympic Games had been a twinkle in Willi Daume’s eye since the early 1960s. The German sports functionary had become a devoted member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1956, and two events just four years apart must have given him a taste of what it would be like to stage the movement’s premier event. In 1959, Munich, the home city of Avery Brundage’s longtime friend and fellow committee member Karl Ritter von Halt, hosted the IOC session. When Nairobi refused to admit the South African delegation in 1963, the Federal Republic stepped into the breech, offering...

  7. 3 The Legacy of Berlin 1936 and the German Past: Problems and Possibilities
    (pp. 56-86)

    Munich’s hosting of the Olympics fitted the geopolitical pattern of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) decisions after the Second World War, which had gradually ushered the defeated nations back to the heart of the international family. The first three Games after 1945 went to the victors and (semi)neutrals (London 1948, Helsinki 1952, Melbourne 1956), with three of the following four heading to the losers (Rome 1960, Tokyo 1964, and Munich 1972). In Rome and Tokyo, the Olympics allowed the hosts to puff out their chest and present a new and forward-looking image. For the Federal Republic, the potential was similar...

  8. 4 Germany on the Drawing Board: Architecture, Design, and Ceremony
    (pp. 87-126)

    Although singular in scale, Munich was not without precedent as a public relations exercise of national importance. Well before the bid, the Federal Republic had presented itself with great success at a series of international exhibitions, not least the Brussels Expo of 1958, the first World Fair since the war. Under the title “Progress and Humanity,” the Belgians aimed to sweep aside the aggressive nationalism that had culminated in the symbolic saber rattling of Paris 1937, and the West German contributors were only too willing to oblige. Seizing the opportunity to “make good the mistakes of the [previous] occasion,” the...

  9. 5 After “1968”: 1972 and the Youth of the World
    (pp. 127-156)

    If the smooth initial handling of Munich’s Olympic project resulted from the consensual tone or “deideologization” that characterized West German national politics in the mid-1960s, its execution in finer detail would be troubled by forces of an unpredictable nature before the decade was out. The Mexico Games proved ominous. Were it not for the dubious decision of a thick-skinned government and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to carry on regardless, the 1968 festival would have been ruined by radical politics. On 2 October 1968, just ten days before the opening ceremony, a summer of violent clashes between students and police...

  10. 6 East versus West: German-German Sporting Tensions from Hallstein to Ostpolitik
    (pp. 157-186)

    Nineteen seventy-two was an extraordinary year for the Federal Republic. Within months it not only staged an outstanding Olympics, but via an agreement with wartime allies over the status of West Berlin and a series of treaties with Moscow, Warsaw, Prague, and East Berlin, succeeded in bringing the spirit of global détente to bear on relations with its Eastern neighbors. Although most difficult to conclude, the final negotiations with the German Democratic Republic (GDR) contained an essential vagueness that allowed both sides to claim real gains and symbolic victories. While the GDR understood the treaty as a repudiation of German...

  11. 7 The End of the Games: Germany, the Middle East, and the Terrorist Attack
    (pp. 187-220)

    On 5 September 1972 terrorism made its first major impact on global television. As hooded heads stood sentry with combat rifles on the balcony of the Israeli team’s accommodation at 31 Connollystraße, the terrorists, “‘super-entertainers of our time,’ offer[ed] ... irresistibly dramatic bait which [the world’s media could not] help but swallow.”¹ After almost twenty hours in the studio, ABC sports broadcaster Jim McKay broke the news to late-night viewers in the United States with the famous words: “When I was a kid, my father used to say our greatest hopes and our worst fears are seldom realized. Our worst...

  12. 8 Conclusion: Olympic Legacies
    (pp. 221-240)

    On the penultimate day of the Games, twelve hundred guests—including the International Olympic Committee (IOC), its outgoing and incoming presidents (Brundage and Killanin), and German politicians Heinemann, Brandt, and Goppel—had been expected at the Lenbachhaus gallery for an evening of champagne and sparkling conversation. But the terrorist attack several days before leadened the mood, and civic hospitality was cancelled as a mark of respect. Now extended by one day, the Games offered little joy or levity, as delegates, dignitaries, and athletes waited for a scaled-down closing ceremony before leaving Munich to its troubled Olympic legacy. When press officer...

  13. NOTES
    (pp. 241-310)
    (pp. 311-328)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 329-348)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 349-351)