In any case Gutfreund apparently heard the rattling of the door at the threshold of that ground-floor duplex, the apartment the other Israelis called the Big Wheels' Inn because it housed senior members of the delegation. When the door cracked open in the darkness, he could make out the barrels of several weapons. He threw his 290 pounds against the door and shouted a warning: "Danger, guys! Terrorists!" For critical seconds Gutfreund succeeded in staying their entrance, allowing his roommate, weightlifting coach Tuvia Sokolovsky, to shatter a rear window and flee to safety through a backyard garden. But the terrorists, using their rifle barrels to crowbar their way inside, soon had Gutfreund subdued on the floor. Quickly they prized track coach Amitzur Shapira and shooting coach Kehat Shorr from one downstairs bedroom. When Issa opened the door to the other downstairs bedroom, wrestling coach Moshe Weinberg lunged at him with a kitchen knife that had been lying on a bedside table. Issa stumbled to the side, unhurt, while another fedayee fired a round from his Kalashnikov that tore through the side of Weinberg's mouth.
The terrorists pushed their unharmed captives up the stairs of the duplex and overpowered the two occupants of the bedroom there, Springer and fencing coach Andr� Spitzer. Leaving their first group of captives behind, under guard, Tony and five other fedayeen nudged Weinberg—he was able to walk, holding a scarf to his bleeding mouth—out onto Connollystrasse and two doors down, where another apartment filled with Israelis issued directly onto the street. There they seized David Berger, a weightlifter from Shaker Heights, Ohio, who had recently immigrated to Israel (page 62); another weightlifter, Yossef Romano, who was on crutches from an injury suffered in competition; and wrestlers Eliezer Halfin, Mark Slavin and Gad Tsabari. Most had heard the shot that wounded Weinberg, and, curious, left their rooms, only to walk into captivity. The fedayeen led their five new hostages the few steps back to join the others.
The stairwell by that first apartment led up to other lodgings, but also down to a parking garage. As soon as the group had reentered the foyer, Tsabari made a dash down the stairs and into the garage, where he zigged and zagged, taking cover behind concrete support posts as a Palestinian shot after him. Weinberg tried to take advantage of the chaos. He tackled one of the fedayeen, knocking his gun free—whereupon another terrorist gave up on Tsabari, who escaped, and finished Weinberg off.
The commandos herded their captives to the second floor of that first duplex apartment. Romano, a Libyan-born weightlifter and veteran of the Six Day War, gimped along, but here he threw down his crutches and grabbed a Kalashnikov from one of the terrorists. Another fedayee shot him dead. For the next 17 hours the pulpy corpse of their countryman would keep the Israelis company.
A cleaning woman on her way to work had called the Olympic security office at 4:47 a.m. to report the sound of gunfire. An unarmed Oly dispatched to 31 Connollystrasse found a hooded commando with a Kalashnikov in the doorway. "What is the meaning of this?" he demanded. The gunman ignored him, but the intentions of Black September—a group that took its name from the loss in September 1970 of 4,000 fedayeen in fighting in Jordan with King Hussein's Jordanian army—would become clear soon enough. The fedayeen rolled Weinberg's body into the street as a sign of their seriousness.
At 5:08 a.m., a half hour before dawn would break over the Village, two sheets of paper fluttered down from the balcony, into the hands of a policeman. The communiqu� listed the names of 234 prisoners held in Israeli jails, and, in a gesture to win the sympathy of radical Europeans, those of Andreas Baader and Ulrike Meinhof, Germany's most notorious urban guerrillas. If the lot weren't released by 9 a.m., a hostage would be executed. "One each hour," Issa told the policeman. "And we'll throw their bodies into the street."
At 8:15 a.m. an equestrian event, the grand prix in dressage, went off as scheduled.
"Trying to bring the dead back to life"
That morning the Germans assembled a crisis team whose composition further underscored the shadow cast by Germany's past. The council included both city police chief Schreiber and West German interior minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher. To further distance itself from the Nazi era, the West German government strictly limited federal power, leaving responsibility for domestic security to the country's 11 states. So the triumvirate also included Genscher's Bavarian counterpart, Bruno Merk—perhaps one too many cooks for a simmering broth.
Soon came word, through West German chancellor Willy Brandt, of Meir's summary response to the Black September demands: "Under no conditions will Israel make the slightest concession to terrorist blackmail." That position remained firm throughout the day. The Germans, however, desperate to buy time, would keep feeding the Palestinians excuses: that some members of the Israeli cabinet couldn't be reached; that not all the prisoners could be located; that phone lines to Jerusalem had broken down.