06 February 2010

1958

Mention Munich to many British people and two events will come to mind: the Munich Agreement of 1938 and the Munich air disaster of 1958. The latter happened 52 years ago today.

An aircraft carrying the Manchester United football team back from a game in Belgrade had landed at Munich's airport (that's the old airport at Riem) to refuel. After two aborted attempts to taake of again the pilot decided to have one more go. By the time the plane was ready to go the third time snow had started falling and the end of the runway was covered in a layer of slush. The slush prevented the aircraft gaining takeoff speed and it slid off the end of the runway into a nearby street. 23 people were killed including journalists who had been covering the game, Manchester United staff and eight of the players.

In Trudering, near the site of the crash there are two memorials to victims. I visited Trudering a couple of days ago and took some pictures. The original memorial consists of a wooden crucifix with a tub of flowers beneath bearing a plaque.

A new memorial just a few yards away was dedicated in 2004. The names of the vicitims are inscribed on a football pitch shaped plaque on top of the memorial. The small square in which the memorial stands was renamed Manchesterplatz in 2008.



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