92. Memorandum From Samuel Hoskinson of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1 2


  • Munich Killings

As you know, all of the Israeli Olympians held hostage by the fedayeen terrorists were killed last night when West German security forces attempted to kill or capture the terrorists at an airport on the outskirts of Munich. This is by far the most dramatic and outrageous incident since fedayeen radicals hijacked five aircraft over Labor Day weekend two years ago.

Attached is a memo which you can provide the President for his use during the meeting this morning with you, Secretary Rogers and others on this incident. It stresses the operational measures we might take at this point. The hard reality, however, is that there is really very little we, or any major power, can do to rectify this situation or make sure that it will not happen again. We can attempt to focus world moral indignation and press for tighter international security measures, but we will remain vulnerable to the dedicated extremist.

This being the case, it would seem best at this point to strike a statesmanlike posture; deeply concerned but not over reacting. We will want to do everything reasonably possible to help avert similar tragedies in the future, but should not let our sense of outrage lead us into actions which could jeopardize other important interests which we have in the Middle East. We will want to identify with Israeli sorrow and bitterness, but it would not be in our interest to do this in a way that closes off our options to work with both Arabs and Israelis to produce a peace settlement.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Subject Files, Box 368, 1976 Olympics. Secret. Sent for action. Kissinger wrote: “Thanks, Sam” on the first page. Attached but not published was a memorandum for the President to use at a meeting with Rogers and Kissinger.
  2. Kissinger was informed that the Israeli Olympic athletes were killed during a rescue mission attempted by West German security forces. Hoskinson suggested that there was very little that could be done to prevent terrorism.