Eugene-based sports author finalizing documentary on 1972 Munich Olympics massacre | Local | Eugene, Oregon

Posted: December 14, 2015 in Uncategorized

In these days of murderous rampages in Roseburg and Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., and elsewhere, it’s worth noting that mass murder — and terrorism — are not new. Steven Ungerleider, a Eugene-based sports psychologist and author, knows it all too well. On Sept. 5, 1972, in one of the most horrifying twists in sports history, 11 Israeli athletes were murdered during the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich by Black September terrorists from a faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization. Ungerleider is the co-­producer of the soon-to-be released documentary “Munich 1972 and Beyond,” which tells the story of the victims’ families’ struggle to discover and reveal the barbarism of the attackers. “I thought I knew the whole story after all these years, but I didn’t,” the 67-year-old Ungerleider says by phone from Austin, Texas, where he was a gymnast at the University of Texas in the late 1960s and where he now lives part time as a visiting scholar. Ungerleider is talking about a hold-your-breath moment in a Tel Aviv, Israel, hotel room this past June, when Ankie Spitzer, the widow of one of the murdered Israeli athletes, told the filmmakers something they had not heard before. About 30 minutes into the interview by director Stephen Crisman, Spitzer, who has long been the spokeswoman for the survivors, said not only had the athletes been murdered, but some were “tortured and castrated,” Ungerleider says. “And we all froze,” says Ungerleider, who moved to Eugene in 1970 to pursue his master’s degree and then a doctorate in psychology at the University of Oregon after graduating from the University of Texas. “It’s time for the world to know the truth,” Spitzer, whose husband, Andre, was a fencing coach who died in the attack, told the filmmakers. That one of the victims, weightlifter Yossef Romano, was castrated, has been known by his wife, Ilano Romano, ever since 1992, when she saw photographs the German government previously had kept secret, Ungerleider says. But she and the others have hardly spoken of that or other elements they learned in 1992 after suing the German government and obtaining a “quiet settlement,” according to Ungerleider. “What (the terrorists) did is that they cut off his genitals through his underwear and abused him,” Romano told a reporter for The New York Times last month. “Can you imagine the nine others sitting around tied up? They watched this.” Yossef Romano and another victim, Moshe Weinberg, were shot to death during the initial assault at the Olympic Village.

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