Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES 9/5/72
The first two Israelis were killed early yesterday morning when Arab commandos, armed with automatic rifles, broke into the quarters of the Israeli team and seized nine others as hostages. The hostages were killed in the airport shootout between the Arabs and German policemen and soldiers.
The bloodshed brought the suspension of the Olympic Games and there was doubt if they would be resumed. Willi Daume, president of the West German Organizing Committee, announced early today that he would ask the International Olympic Committee to meet tomorrow to decide whether they should continue.
In addition to the slain Israelis and Arabs, a German policeman was killed and a helicopter pilot was critically wounded. Three Arabs were wounded.
There were some reports that two of the hostages said to have been killed might still be alive. "It is a dim hope," said Dr. Bruno Merk, the Interior Minister of Bavaria, "but I am skeptical on this point."
The bloodbath at the airport that ended at 1 A.M. today, came after long hours of negotiation between German and Arabs at the Israeli quarters in the Olympic Village where the Arabs demanded the release of 200 Arab commandos imprisoned in Israel.
Finally the West German armed forces supplied three helicopters to transport the Arabs and their Israeli hostages to the airport at Furstenfeldbruck. From there all were to be flown to Cairo.
A Boeing-707 provided by the Lufthansa German Airlines was waiting.
Two of the terrorists, carrying their automatic rifles, walked about 170 yards from the helicopters to the plane. And then they started back to pick up the other Arabs and the hostages.
As the Arabs were returning, German sharpshooters reportedly opened fire from the darkness beyond the pools of light at the airport. The Arabs returned fire.
The torment of the entire event was heightened by confusion created in the public mind by contradictory reports from German and Olympic officials after the gunfire erupted at the airport.
Dr. Merk, in a press conference at 3 o'clock this morning said:
"In this situation our task and goal to free the hostages was made more difficult by the lack of agreement from Israel to free prisoners or to get guarantees from the Arabs not to take action against the hostages."
He said the Federal Minister of the Interior, Hans-Dietrich Genscher, had offered to substitute himself and other German officials for the Israeli hostages. This, and money, was rejected by the Arabs.
How the hostages were killed was still in doubt. One theory was that an Arab threw a grenade into a helicopter in which some or all of the hostages were bound hand and foot.
Partial explanation of how the Arabs knew so much about the Israeli compound in the Olympic Village came from Dr. Merk. He said that at least one of the terrorists was an official employee in the village and that there was reason to believe some of his confederates had also obtain accreditation.
The idea of trying to liberate the hostages at the Olympic Village was rejected, Dr. Merk said, because it could have "involved athletes from other nations" living nearby.
Hostages Agreed to Flight
He said that though the hostages had acquiesced to the Arab insistence on flying to Cairo "we felt that would have been a certain death sentence for the hostages."
Before the bloody end, tense negotiations had gone on all day yesterday between Germans and the commandos. The games were halted and the German police, wearing bulletproof vests beneath track suits, had closed in on the Olympic Village building invaded by the Arabs.
Egyptian athletes forfeited a basketball game in protest against the commando action, which was denounced by the United Nations Secretary General, Kurt Waldheim, by President Nixon and by his Democratic Presidential rival, Senator George McGovern.
Shortly before the negotiations broke off a the Olympic Village, the police began clearing a path around the area and the commandos and their hostages left by bus. The bus halted at the main exit and one Arab left it to inspect the helicopters.
The bloody interlude in the Olympic games, international symbol of peace and sportsmanship, began about 4 A.M. yesterday when the Arabs climbed a fence into the lightly guarded compound that is housing more than 10,000 athletes.
About an hour later, according to witnesses, the commandos broke into the three-story structure where 26 Israelis were staying.
As they tried to rush the Israelis, they were halted at the door by a coach. He held the door against them, shouting to other athletes to flee.
There was confusion later about which of the two slain Israelis had sounded the alarm. One was identified as Joseph Romano, a weight-lifting coach. The other was Moshe Weinberg, a wrestling coach, and former wrestling champion of Israel.
But there was no doubt about what the man had done. Recalling the episode later, Tuvia Sokolsky, a weight-lifting coach, said, with traces of fear in this eyes and voice:
"I heard this shout: 'Boys get out!' I jumped to my feet and locked the door. My room is opposite the apartment entrance and I saw a strange picture--one of the men on the team trying to keep the door shut.
"The door was already open and he was using all his strength to keep the door closed. He kept shouting to us to get out and I think he saved my life. Because of the warning, I was able to escape from the room."
One of the men who escaped, Gud Psabari, a wrestler, dashed out in a hail of bullets, dodging behind pillars and around corners. Mr. Psabari said later, "I think I ran faster than Valery Borzov; I think I broke the record for the dash."
The Israeli dormitory, at 31 Connolly Street, is peculiarly inaccessible, tucked inside a "V" of larger buildings. While the commandos standing on the white-paneled balconies of the slate-gray building were exposed to police sharpshooters posted on the roof, the police still would have difficulty getting at the building rapidly in large numbers.
Chancellor Willy Brandt expressed his country's profound shock and outrage over the incident, as did hosts of other German politicians. There had been a feeling of helplessness among those who stood near the Israeli dormitory under a cloudless sky all day.
But the Israelis inside, either unable to escape, or determined to fight, grabbed up knives and fought against the guns of their assailants.
Debate Over Suspension
Once the fighting had ended, the commandos made known their demands and the bargaining began with the West Germans. Participating in the negotiations was an Olympic Games stewardess who is fluent in Arabic. However, the leader of the commandos knew German, according to officials.
Repeated efforts to gain the release of the hostages were rejected by the Arabs.
One effort at mediation by a representative of the Arab League who flew in from Bonn was coldly rebuffed by the raiders.
Before the games were ordered suspended, the feeling in the Olympic Village about whether they should be halted was sharply divided. Many Germans, Italians and French said they should be stopped altogether. But some Israelis said this would be giving in to blackmail and that the program should go on.
Shortly after 9 P.M. yesterday a West German negotiating team succeeded in persuading the terrorists to move out of the Israeli dormitory with their hostages. Security authorities cleared a path under the large dormitory housing Canadians and Hungarians, on through the Square of Nations and beyond the block where Americans are quartered to a field where helicopters were waiting.
The transfer was invisible to most of the people waiting to see what was happening--through underground passageways and along paths blocked from view by guards. It took place at about 10 P.M., roughly 17 hours after the attack had started.
The convoy, in which the Israeli
hostages were held with their hands bound under guard by the Arabs,
went to a helicopter pad set up for the move. The Arabs and their
hostages then were flown to the airport.