Witnessing The 1972 Olympic Games

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The world watched in disbelief as Arab terrorists attacked the Olympic games in Munich, Germany 30 years ago. The terrorists held members of the Israeli team hostage for over 21 hours, eventually killing 11 athletes and coaches in one of the worst tragedies in Olympic history.

Sports historian and producer Bud Greenspan put together "The 1972 Munich Olympic Games: Bud Greenspan Remembers," a documentary commemorating the event he witnessed first hand.

The documentary, he tells The Early Show, features interviews with Greenspan, athletes who competed in the '72 games, significant Olympic organizers and witnesses to the game and family and friends of murdered athletes.

" I talked to a lot of the relatives and friends of the athletes and that made it seem even more like yesterday," said Greenspan.

The documentary also includes extraordinary rare archival video from the games, including live coverage of the hostages' standoff with their captors.

Greenspan was a 44-year-old NBC reporter at the time of the event. He, like many others, was caught by surprise when the killings unfolded.

The terrorist attack began in the early morning of Sept. 5, 1972 when eight Arabs wearing track suits, who belonged to the PLO faction called "Black September," scaled the wall surrounding the Olympic Village and proceeded to kill two members of the Israeli team and hold several more hostage.

"I wasn't supposed to cover as much for NBC. My original assignment was to cover the events … In the morning I got a call from New York telling me the news that shots had been fired at the Olympic Village and the police were on their way," said Greenspan.

For a few hours that night there was a false sense of relief that the hostages -- after 21 hours as captives -- were eventually freed, but the world was to wake up the next morning to the news that the hostages were killed in the Germans' botched attempt to kill the terrorists.

"Some mistakes were made. When news started circulating that the hostage had been freed, the place went crazy it was like a New Years Eve celebration. Everybody called in the news and it was reported nationwide on the evening of September 5th," said Greenspan. "Fortunately I did not call in the story that the hostages had been saved. My wife Kathy told me not to call in the story until it had been corroborated by an official. So I didn't. But on the morning of September 6th we all heard the news that all the hostages had been killed by the terrorists. Fingers were being pointed as reporters tried to explain the mistake."

The incident, now referred as the "The Munich Massacre" was the worst tragedy in the history of the Olympics. On the morning of Sept. 6, in front of a worldwide audience, a memorial service was held for the slain athletes. In a defiant statement against terrorism, the Olympic games were not canceled, but resumed later that day. Originally promoted by Germany as the "The Peaceful Games," since it was the first time the event had been held there since WWII, the event was marked by the tragedy as several teams pulled out refusing to continue the games.

When making the documentary about the games, Greenspan said the victims' families and others were willing to talk about the horrific past.

Greenspan has covered every Olympics since 1948. The documentary will air on Showtime at 10 p.m.
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