The 21 hours of Munich

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German title The 21 hours of Munich
Original title 21 Hours at Munich
Country of production United States
original language English
Publishing year 1976
length 104 minutes
Age rating FSK 16
Director William A. Graham
script Edward Hume ,
Howard Fast
production Robert Greenwald ,
Frank von Zerneck
music Laurence Rosenthal
camera Jost Vacano
cut Ronald J. Fagan

The 21 Hours of Munich (original title: 21 Hours at Munich ) is an American television film from 1976, which deals with the Munich assassination attempt at the 1972 Summer Olympics . Directed by William A. Graham . The basis is the book The Blood of Israel by Serge Groussard . The transmitter ABC beamed the film out on 7 November 1976th Despite its television background, the film was shown several times in cinemas in various countries.


On September 5, 1972, the hostage-takers entered the Olympic village and overwhelmed some members of the Israeli Olympic team. Right at the beginning of the action, the trainer Weinberg and the weightlifter Romano are wounded and die in the course of the hostage situation because they do not receive any medical help. The Munich police, the organizing committee and the rescue service are alerted and a war of nerves begins with the hostage-takers.

They demand the release and safe conduct of 232 Palestinians who are held in Israeli prisons. In addition, the RAF terrorists Andreas Baader and Ulrike Meinhof and the Japanese terrorist Kōzō Okamoto are also to be released from custody. Israel refuses to comply with these demands. The crisis team, consisting of Federal Interior Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher , Bavarian Interior Minister Bruno Merk , Police President Manfred Schreiber , NOK President Willi Daume , IOC President Avery Brundage and State Secretary Erich Kiesl , consults and negotiates with the hostage takers. Schreiber and Genscher visit the hostages and are horrified. The hostage taker's negotiator is a man named Issa. He expressed his determination to the staff and asked for an escape vehicle and an airplane to take them out of the country. In the meantime, Zvi Zamir has arrived as a representative of the Israeli government and listens to the decision regarding a hostage rescue. He does not agree with the German plans.

The staff decides to get the hostage takers to fly from Fürstenfeldbruck airfield . They can be shot better there, as the snipers have a better view. However, Zamir suggests attacking the hostage-takers earlier because the distances between the shooters and their targets on the airfield are too great. The hostage-takers can be brought to the airfield in two helicopters. There are only five German snipers there, as only five hostage-takers were assumed. In fact, there are eight hostage-takers. The plane is ready in Fürstenfeldbruck, where the police are hiding, but they leave the plane without authorization before the hostage-takers arrive. When they arrive, two go to the plane and notice that there is no crew on board. When they get off the plane, the police open fire and a shooting begins. The hostage-takers kill their hostages with hand grenades and rifle volleys.

At the end of the film, Federal President Gustav Heinemann gives a funeral speech in the Olympic Stadium, and the last fade-in is the Olympic flame.


The lexicon of international films wrote: “Although not filmed in a very sensational way, but neither is it a semi-documentary; too much seems staged, the fate of the hostages hardly affects them. A more in-depth discussion of terrorism was not sought. "

Der Spiegel found: “Like the equally unsuccessful film company Entebbe , this one, slavishly committed to 'action', pokes around at the surface.” Critics described the film as a “work of art”. It was also criticized that the role of the police and the Bavarian Minister of the Interior was embellished in the film: “As a counter-deal, so to speak, the role of the Bavarian Minister of the Interior, Bruno Merk, was vigorously revamped in five changes to the original script. So now, portrayed as signed and embellished by Noel Willman, Franco Nero, who plays the terrorist leader Issa, can look resolutely in the blue eyes and take verbal threats. ”In its film review, Der Spiegel also lists a number of deviations from reality.


In the film there is a plane from the fictional airline "Deutschflug" on the apron of the air base. In reality, this plane belonged to Lufthansa. The aircraft shown in the film also belongs to Lufthansa, but the company logo on the vertical tail has been painted over with a red dot. One of the two helicopters at Fürstenfeldbruck airport bears the aircraft registration number "D-HATE" in the film, which is perceived in Anglo-Saxon very differently than in Germany, namely as "D-hatred or hate".

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Jerry Roberts: Encyclopedia of Television Film Directors . Scarecrow Press, 2009 ,, ISBN 0-8108-6138-0 .
  2. ^ Rick Talley: '21 Hours' relives Munich agony . In: Chicago Tribune , October 28, 1976. Retrieved July 30, 2012. 
  3. Bill Carter: Munich docu-drama powerful, but why put it on opposite 'GWTW'? . In: The Sun , November 5, 1976. Retrieved July 30, 2012. 
  4. ^ The 21 hours of Munich. In: Lexicon of International Films . Film service , accessed March 2, 2017 .Template: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used 
  5. Wolfgang Limmer: Django at the Olympics . In: Der Spiegel . No. 10 , 1977 ( online ).