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1972 Olympic Attack – End of the Happy Games

September 23, 2014

Originally published in German at the Suede Deutsche.

The competition for the memorial to commemorate the victims of the Olympic killing is decided. The winning design provides a freely accessible space in front under a roof that looks like a hill on stilts.

Written by Kassian Stroh

There will soon be a memorial to commemorate the victims of the 1972 Munich Olympics terrorist attacks.  It will be located on a cut hill in the Olympic Park in Munich. With this concept, the architectural firm of Brückner & Brückner office has prevailed in an architectural competition for the planned memorial. It will be built on a hill on Kolehmainenweg, south of the Olympic Village and north of the tennis courts near the Olympic Stadium. Brückner & Brückner’s concept is to make a one meter horizontal cut from this little hill, symbolizing the cut that the terrorist attack had on the lives of the victims. The resulting roof is to be supported by columns.

The exhibition space underneath will be  placed around three feet deep, so that a good two meters high, open on all sides space is created. “A cut” the brothers Peter and Christian Brückner call their plan – “nothing added, they take something away –  namely the lives of eleven athletes”, commented the Zurich architect Barbara Holzer, who chaired the jury.

The directive to create the memorial that was issued two years ago by the State Government has taken a big step forward. Standing next to the Bavarian State Minister for Education and Culture, Ludwig Spaenle, at Monday’s press conference was another financial backer of the memorial – the Los Angeles-based Foundation for Global Sports Development, represented by Dr. Steven Ungerleider and David Ulich, which will contribute approximately 200,000 euros. The International Olympic Committee is providing a grant in the same amount, while the German National Olympic Committee has pledged 350,000 euros. The City of Munich will contribute 420,000 euros – a figure announced by Cultural Officer Bernhard Küppers on Monday. The remaining approximately 500,000 Euros will come from the Bavarian State government.

For the memorial, the architects have proposed that eleven columns will support the roof.  Each column will be dedicated to one of eleven members of the Israeli Olympic team who died in the attack of the Palestinian terror squads on September 5, 1972.

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On these columns a photo of each athlete will be displayed, as well as additional biographical information. Here, however, the jury sees the possibility for improvement, as was to be heard on Monday. Also unclear is whether there will be a column for the only German victim, specifically the Munich policeman Anton Fliegerbauer, who was killed during the failed rescue attempt at the military airport Fürstenfeldbruck.  In the middle of the room will be a bright 24-hour circle to represent the events of that day.  Between the columns will be information on four other issues: the political significance of the Games of 1972, the German-Israeli relations, transnational terrorism and the aftermath of the assassination. Some of this can be accomplished with light projections from the ceiling to the floor. These also have the advantage of being less prone to vandalism than information boards or tables.

The memorial will be freely accessible around the clock,  and will not be a museum in the conventional sense. The roof will allow it to act as a place to stay and contemplate, even on a rainy day.  The covered area will comprise about 130 square meters. Since the space is completely open, the visitor has both the Olympic sites in view as well as the apartments at the Connolly Street 31, the location of the hostage-taking.

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Scheduled to open in autumn 2016, the initiative for this is largely due to the former Israeli Consul General in Munich, Tibor Shalev Schlosser.  Prime Minister Horst Seehofer made ​​the idea his own and pushed it forward. The architectural competition included six different architectural firms.

The submitted designs are on show until October 5 in the foyer of the Jewish Museum at Jacob’s Place: from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 to 18 clock, but not on 25 and 26 September and 4 October.

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