During the month of November of last year, people started to talk about the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Although the opening of the games on February 7th were eagerly anticipated, there was also a feeling of skepticism in the air because of the strained relations between the United States and Russia. The excitement of watching the hosting country’s excellence in cross-country skiing and figure skating was combined with concerns about terrorism and safety. With those provocative thoughts buzzing in my head and ideas rolling over in my mind about possible topics for National History Day, I came up with a way to combine my History Day theme with the similar concern of a past Olympics and chose to do my project on The 1972 Munich Olympics.
I used the ever-abundant resource of the Internet to begin my research. I searched online for links containing helpful information on my topic and any images of the places and people involved. I also utilized my school library looking for books and articles on the Munich Massacre and though our library had none on my topic, the librarian helped me order books online from other libraries. I then put together a timeline which I am using to piece together all of the pertinent events leading up to and actions taken after the disaster and identified the slain Israeli athletes. I updated my research log and bibliography with each entry.
I knew right away that I needed to be in an individual category because of my busy sports schedule outside of school. I narrowed my category down to either doing a documentary or a website because I felt that I needed a medium that allowed me to show pictures and live footage and either of these would be better suited on a video screen than say a paper or exhibit. In the end, I chose a website because I wanted to challenge myself to learn a new skill that I knew would be valuable and the format would fit my project well.
My project relates to this year’s theme of Rights and Responsibilities in History in several ways. In the Olympics, nations have the right to send qualified athletes to compete in the games. These athletes have the right to expect to participate in a safe environment. This right was denied some athletes during the 1972 Olympics due to low security measures leading to the opportunity for disaster. The Olympic committee and hosting country had the responsibility to ensure the athletes staying in the Olympic Village were protected. Once the Israelis were taken hostage, Germany, the hosting country, had the responsibility to secure their release. And although two feeble rescue efforts were planned, both failed, ending in the massacre of the hostages. My topic fits both themes, Rights and Responsibilities, by first detailing the implicit rights of the Israeli and other athletes and secondly, encompassing the presupposed responsibilities of the Olympic Committee and the hosting country to guarantee these rights.