Notes on the 50th Anniversary of the Munich Massacre

September 2022

One of the stories in my collection Quiet Americans, “Homecomings,” has recently been re-published. Set in 1972, it’s a story that combines some family history (yes, my own great-grandmother died early that year; and yes, some months thereafter, my German-Jewish-born grandparents returned to Europe for the first time after having fled in the late 1930s; and yes, my younger sister was born not too long after that) with a searing historical event: the terrorist attack on the Israeli team at the Munich Olympics, which began in the early morning hours of September 5. (If you need a refresher on this subject, you might also check my 2012 review of a nonfiction book about it.)

I wrote the first draft of “Homecomings” about 20 years ago, when I was an MFA student. (I’ve also written about the experience of workshopping the story.) It’s a story for which I won a deeply meaningful prize. It has never before been published online, and I’m immensely grateful to Moment magazine for wanting to share it with readers as we note the somber 50th anniversary of what is often remembered as the “Munich Massacre.”

One final note: Careful readers may notice that the online version of the story has been tweaked just a little bit from what’s printed in Quiet Americans, something I feel a bit less ambivalent about after catching some online validation for the practice of never-ending revision.

Thank you for taking a moment to join me in honoring the memories of the slain.

image of the 11 members of the 1972 Israeli Olympic team and the West German policement who were murdered in September 1972.
Screenshot taken from Munich ‘72 and Beyond, an account “of the kidnapping and murder of 11 Israeli athletes by Palestinian terrorists at the Munich Summer Olympics” in September 1972. This image depicts the 11 Israelis (Amizur Shapira, Ze’ev Friedman, Moshe Weinberg, Yossef Romano, Kehat Shorr, Yossef Guttfreund, Yakov Springer, [American-born] David Berger, Mark Slavin, Andre Spitzer, and Eliezer Halfin) as well as the West German policeman (Anton Fliegerbauer) who was also killed. May their memories always be a blessing.

A version of this piece was published in the September 2022 issue of The Practicing Writer 2.0.