Olympic Relay Torch - Munich 1972
Above: Front of specimen card.
"We shall not have peace until the prejudices which now separate the different races shall have been outlived. To attain this end, what better means than to bring the youth of all countries periodically together for amicable trials of muscular strength and agility?" ~ Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympic Games
This specimen is a fragment of a stainless steel Olympic Relay Torch used in advance of the 1972 games in Munich (one of 6,700). Germany introduced the modern concept of the Olympic Torch relay during the 1936 Games in Berlin. Since then, the relay has been a feature of every Summer Games.
Above: Zahn after lighting the flame in 1972.
The 1972 relay covered 5,532 km beginning in Olympia, Greece, and ending with 18-year-old Günter Zahn's lighting of the flame in Munich Stadium.
Above: 1972 Olympic Relay Torch
The specimen is housed in an acrylic jar that is encased within a glass-topped riker display box. The box measures 4 1/2" x 3 1/2". A small information card is also included, which serves as the certificate of authenticity.
While planning the Second Edition of the Mini Museum in early 2015, we intended to use this torch to represent the Olympics but as we neared launch we decided to switch to the 2004 Athens torch to change the tone of the collection.
Above: Detail images of the 1972 Olympic Relay Torch
Production on the 1972 torch was already complete and so we held onto this item looking for the right way to share it with the world. After careful consideration, we believe the best way to share this item is to release it as a single specimen to stand on its own.
Above: Empty gas container held within the torch handle. According to detailed records about the production run, ignition was a major failure point for most of the 6,700 units.
About the Olympics and the 1972 Munich Games
"The memories of the Munich games for me are of triumph and tragedy." ~ Mark Spitz, winner of seven gold medals in 1972
The modern Olympic Games are the manifestation of the ideals of Pierre de Coubertin, who in 1894 revived the 3,000-year-old concept of the Greek Olympiad as a practical, hands-on extension to the peace education movement of his day. Coubertin's goal was nothing less than peace among all nations, which he hoped to bring about through a program of sport emphasizing the unique value of each human body.
Over the last century, the sheer scale of the modern Olympic Games has come to mirror the complexity inherent in global human relations. Yet, Coubertin's Olympic motto, "Citius, Altius, Fortius" (Faster, Higher, Stronger), has served well as a reminder of the indomitable human spirit at the heart of the Games.
As with every Olympics, the Games of the 20th Olympiad would see victory and controversy. Records would be set, and medals would be won. Yet, the 1972 Games would also play host to a terrible tragedy.
"You know our history, you know what the Third Reich did to the Jews. You need to understand that that can't happen in Germany again. I told him to take me instead of them..." ~ Hans-Dietrich Genscher, West German Interior Minister
During the early morning hours of September 5th, members of the Palestinian terrorist organization, Black September, infiltrated the Olympic village and took members of the Israeli team hostage. All 11 hostages would perish, two in their rooms, and the remaining nine in a chaotic scene at Fürstenfeldbruck Air Base.
Above: Macro detail of the 1972 Olympic Relay Torch
It is not our intention to share all of the details of the 1972 incident, nor to sort out the political motivations involved. Numerous investigations, legal proceedings, books, and films have been made to this end. Rather, the showcase of the 1972 Games and the Torch in particular are meant to inspire reflection on the challenge faced by the entire world to live up to the ideals behind Coubertin's original vision of peace through sport.
Above: Back of specimen card.