Oktoberfest bombing

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Oktoberfest bombing
Part of Terrorism in Germany
Monument at the site
LocationMunich, West Germany
Date26 September 1980
TargetOktoberfest participants
Attack type
Bombing, mass murder, neo-Nazi terrorism
WeaponsPipe bomb
Deaths13 (including the perpetrator)
PerpetratorGundolf Köhler

The Oktoberfest bombing was a terrorist attack with a right-wing radical motive. On 26 September 1980, 12 people were killed and 211 were injured by the explosion of an improvised explosive device (IED) at the main entrance of the Oktoberfest in Munich, West Germany. The attack is the second-deadliest in Germany since World War II. The attack was attributed to the right-wing extremist and geology student Gundolf Köhler who was killed while placing the bomb; however, doubts remain as to whether he acted alone.

Attack and immediate impact[edit]

Oktoberfest is an outdoor beer festival held during a 16-day period running from late September to the first weekend in October, celebrating beer in Munich, Germany.

At 10:19 p.m. on 26 September 1980, a bomb exploded at the main entrance to Oktoberfest, killing 13 people instantly (including the perpetrator) and injuring 225 people. Amongst the individuals killed were one Briton, one Swiss, and three German children, aged 6, 8, and 10; the remaining victims were West German adults.[1]

The bomb had been planted in a litter bin at about waist level, allowing it to wreak significant havoc upon detonation.[citation needed] Approximately 50 of the 225 survivors experienced serious, life-threatening injuries with the potential to impact the afflicted individuals for the rest of their lives.[citation needed] The area affected by the bombing was the size of a football field, approximately 100 metres by 60 metres.[citation needed] Reconstruction from the site of the bombing indicates that it was created from a British mortar projectile manufactured in 1954.[citation needed] This particular projectile was modified to ensure an intense degree of fragmentation, assisting in causing as many fatalities and severe injuries as quickly as possible.[citation needed] This explains the large scale of casualties and injuries caused by the blast.[citation needed]

Criticism of the official investigation[edit]

The "single attacker" theory that was the conclusion of the official investigation has been doubted by many, including local politicians, victims and various journalists and attorneys.

The criticisms of the official investigation include the fact that known connections between Köhler and the Wehrsportgruppe Hoffmann, a known neo-Nazi militia, were all but ignored in the final report. Also, several eyewitness accounts of the attack itself mentioned Köhler speaking to two individuals wearing olive parkas immediately prior to the explosion as well as statements that a second individual was seen with Köhler looking into the plastic bag that the IED was believed to be in.

The last remaining pieces of evidence from the attack such as shrapnel from the IED were disposed of in 1997. This is routine in investigations that are considered cleared, yet it created some blow-back due to the political background of the attack and the lingering questions surrounding the official investigation.

In popular culture[edit]

In 2009, German novelist Wolfgang Schorlau published a book about the event, entitled Das München-Komplott ("The Munich plot").[2]

In 2013, the feature film Der blinde Fleck ("The blind spot") was released to German cinemas, starring Benno Fürmann in the lead and concerning a dramatized event of journalist Ulrich Chaussy's investigations throughout the 1980s regarding the Oktoberfest bombing and possible political cover-ups of a radical right-wing network behind it.

The 1988 album What Good Is Grief to a God? by D.I. includes the event in a list of terrorist actions in the song "Terrorist's Life".


  1. ^ Gerber, Larry (29 September 1980). "Neo-Nazi Group Suspected in Munich Oktoberfest Bombing". The Lewiston Daily Sun. Retrieved 21 November 2013.
  2. ^ Katharina Hall, ed. (15 March 2016). Crime Fiction in German: Der Krimi. University of Wales Press. p. 178. ISBN 978-1-78316-819-4. Retrieved 17 February 2017.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 48°08′09″N 11°32′59″E / 48.13592°N 11.549736°E / 48.13592; 11.549736