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The Munich Massacre

In response to:

Between Paris and Jerusalem from the October 25, 1979 issue

To the Editors:

In Leon Wieseltier’s review (NYR, October 25) of When Memory Comes by Saul Friedländer, he states: “Two years later the same Palestinian masterminded the massacre at the Munich Olympics.” He, the unnamed Palestinian, may have masterminded the plan to kidnap the Jewish athletes and exchange them for imprisoned Palestinians. But, if he was the architect of the massacre, he must have changed hats, for the German police did the deed.

Kenneth Van Leuven

Bisbee, Arizona

Leon Wieseltier replies:

A check of newspaper reports of September 1972 shows that my memory was correct; but then these are facts that are not easy to forget. The German police opened fire, but the terrorists did the deed. Two Israeli hostages on the ground they shot at once. The other nine were found murdered in the two helicopters that had brought them to the airfield outside Munich. A Palestinian hurled a grenade into one helicopter while a comrade shot into it from beneath. Another Palestinian machine-gunned the athletes in the second craft. Eleven Israelis died, as did four terrorists, and three were taken prisoner.

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