Sorry for the lack of posts! My laptop decided to die conveniently during exam time in December but he’s all back to life now – just now with a German hard drive which is making my life slightly more difficult – who knew computer talk in a different language was this complex?! I’m back from spending Christmas at home in Shetland and I have found myself really appreciating where I live in Munich. Especially when I got on the plane and the pilot said “The weather is very similar to Edinburgh in Munich. Except in Munich it’s not windy or rainy or cloudy.’ And not to mention my new Professor is called Rudolph so this makes me very happy. So we took a long walk today.
I consider myself unbelieveably lucky to have landed accommodation in the Olympic park for my year abroad. Although the Olympics were held here way back in the summer of 1972 when I wasn’t even dreamt of yet – the place is more alive than ever and you can do just about everything here – skating, boat hire, mini golf, tennis, outdoor cinema, swimming, ice skating, football, flying fox and so much more.
Die Heiteren Spiele – The Happy Games
As the motto of the 1972 Games shows, the Olympic park was centered around creating a new image for Germany – this was their chance to put history behind them as the 1936 Games were held in Berlin under a Nazi government and the Germans were well aware of the connection people had between Germany and the Olympics because of this. The intention of representing a new democratic Germany was clear. They wanted a ‘Demokratisches Grün’ (democratic green) Olympic venue. And so they decided to call this place I call home the Olympiapark as it fit well with the whole ‘green’ theme.
Unfortunately The Happy Games were overshadowed and are still remembered today for a most unhappy event that unfolded to be one of the most shocking tragedies of the 70s. The organisers’ intention of creating a new image for Germany was indeed clear however it is hard to get past the fact that when someone mentions the Munich Olympics, the first thing that comes to mind is the Munich massacre. Sadly this amazing place comes along with a horrific history. 11 Israeli athletes and a German police officer were brutally murdered.
On September the 5th a Palestinian Terrorist organisation stormed the Olympic Village and took these athletes hostage in their own apartments. Anyone who wants to know more about the events of that day should watch a documentary called ‘One Day in September’ or Steven Spielberg’s ‘Munich.’ I cannot imagine how horrible the atmosphere was in the village on that day and it is almost impossible for me to imagine how such a brutality could have happened in this happy, welcoming place. If anyone is interested here is some footage of News Anchor Jim McKay announcing the news. ‘My father used to say that our greatest hopes and our worst fears are seldom realised. Tonight, our worst fears have been realised… They are gone.’
In 1972 was the first time a terrorist attack had been broadcast live across the globe. With the attack in Sydney only a few weeks ago and yesterday’s attack in Paris – it doesn’t seem like we are moving any further forward.
Upon moving in to my apartment in the village I knew that the hostages were held in one of these apartments but it did not really hit home until I was out for a run one day and stumbled upon the exact flat:
I hope I haven’t depressed everyone too much with that and I’ll move on to more happier things. The way that the Germans have kept this place alive is really amazing – to live in such a huge green space in the middle of a city is indescribable. It’s a beautiful area. I took a walk today through the park and was able to see the Alps in the distance.
The weather was a bit warmer when I arrived in September so I bought myself a pair of skates from a Flea Market (basically a car boot sale) and got skating. The olympic park is just MADE for exercising.
Now lots of famous bands perform in the stadium every month. Kylie Minogue was just here and so was Ed Sheeran.
The Olympic village is a happy and welcoming place. As students, we are allowed to paint or ‘graffiti’ whatever we want on our little houses. Here’s some pictures I took of some of my favourites (sorry it was a bit of a grey afternoon). I think its so cool that the students are allowed to express themselves and brighten this place up – and that all the paintings are happy and colourful and no one abuses it. I still need to paint mine!
All in all it is a beautiful place to live and perfect for students. I think its really remarkable how the Germans haven’t just let this place go but have kept it going and now the history of the games can live on forever. I just hope that this place can be seen for more than just the location in which a brutal attack took place. No person is perfect and in the same sense no place is perfect – I have sung Munich’s praises in my blog up until now but it wouldn’t be true or fair to not address some negatives.
This place today is just proof that the Happy Games really did succeed – happiness will always be more powerful than terror. Just as Hollande said yesterday following the attacks – liberty will always be stronger than barbarity.
The Park is definitely worth a visit and you might even catch an old person zooming by on a scooter as that seems to be a popular method of transport here. Also if you want to fit in, bring outdoor gear. The Germans love their North Face and Jack Wolfskin kit.