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The GSG 9 der Bundespolizei (originally the German abbreviation of Grenzschutzgruppe 9 or Border Guard Group 9) is the elite counter-terrorism and special operations unit of the German Federal Police.


History and name

In 1972, the Palestinian terrorist movement Black September used the Summer Olympic Games in Munich, Germany, to kidnap 11 Israeli athletes, killing two in the Olympic Village in the initial assault on the athletes' rooms. The incident tragically culminated when German police, neither trained nor equipped for counter-terrorism operations and underestimating the number of terrorists involved, attempted to rescue the athletes. They failed miserably and the operation led to the deaths of one policeman, five of the eight kidnappers and the remaining nine hostages (subsequently called the Munich massacre). Apart from the human tragedy, Germany's law enforcement found itself severely embarrassed, in part due to its historic relationship to Jews and Israel.

As a consequence of the incident's mismanagement, the German government created the GSG 9 under the leadership of then Oberstleutnant Ulrich Wegener so that similar situations in the future could be responded to adequately and professionally. Many German politicians opposed its formation fearing GSG 9 would rekindle memories of the Nazi Party's Schutzstaffel (SS). The decision was taken to form the unit from police forces as opposed to the military as is the model in other countries on the grounds that German federal law expressly forbids the use of the military forces against the civilian population. Special forces composed of police personnel would reconcile this. The unit was officially established on April 17, 1973 as a part of Germany's federal police agency, the Bundesgrenzschutz (federal border guard service, renamed Bundespolizei or federal police in 2005). The name GSG 9 stood for Grenzschutzgruppe 9 (border guard group 9) and was chosen simply because the BGS had eight regular border guard groups at the time. After the 2005 renaming, the abbreviation "GSG 9" was kept due to the fame of the unit and is now the official way to refer to the unit. Its formation was based on the expertise of the Israeli Sayeret Matkal.

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