Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/634/10078
Love Parade catastrophe was entirely preventable
ON 24 July, 21 people died in the horrific stampede at the Love Parade festival in the German city of Duisburg.
500 were injured and, for a time, over 1,000 people were officially listed as missing. The revellers panicked at a tunnel entrance. But local people expected the chaos in advance.
Jan R-der and Sebastian F-rster, CWI Germany
On 7 June someone wrote on the internet site of the local Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung (WAZ) newspaper: "Is it true that they try to lead one million people through a single lane street (!) - through a TUNNEL! - Through the Karl Lehr street with two dirt tracks to the festival area? In my eyes this is a trap.
This will never work. Those who were [at the previous Parades] in Essen and Dortmund know how crowded the larger streets were.
Even that was a catastrophe. And now they are leading it through a single track tunnel? I'll be damned!!!! People will be dying when they try to leave the festival area on this mingy street."
Experts warned the organisers that no more than 250,000 people could fit into the planned festival area, knowing that the annual Love Parades were regularly attended by over a million.
But with the help of the city administration and the Mayor Adolf Sauerland (Christian Democrat) the organisers held a Love Parade that attracted 1.4 million visitors who had to pass though this 120 metre-long tunnel to reach the festival's only entry and exit point.
Police experts from all over North Rhine-Westphalia referred to it as "a death trap". The fire brigade had also warned the organisers.
Dr Motte, who organised the first Love Parades in Berlin said: "The organisers made gross mistakes in the management.
How could they lead the people through only one access to the festival area? It is a scandal. The organisers should be blamed. They knew how many people would come". He told the Berlin Kurier newspaper that this Parade was "all about making money. The organisers did not show the slightest sense of responsibility to people".
Since 2006 Dr Motte has dissociated himself from the Love Parade as he felt it had become apolitical and commercial.
The first Love Parade, held in Berlin in 1989, was a free peace and music festival that in subsequent years developed into a huge annual youth and music event.
This year's Love Parade was held as part of the 'Ruhr 2010 European Capital of Culture', an attempt to develop the prestige of the Ruhr area.
Sponsors like RWE, a large energy company, pushed the 'Ruhr 2010', while normal people are hit hard by social cuts.
Schools, theatres and cultural centres have been closed.
The boss of the fitness company McFit and Love Parade business manager Rainer Schaller wanted to push through the festival at any cost.
One of Schaller's companies had taken over and relocated the Love Parade in 2006 after a dispute with the Berlin city authorities, which meant that it could no longer continue there.
Last year Schaller told the Handelsblatt newspaper that his commercial interest in the Love Parade was to "use a relatively small budget to gain a high recognition factor".
The organisers even let the party go on after the deaths without announcing what had happened.
Hundreds of thousands of participants didn't even know anything about the catastrophe until they went home.
The officials were completely overwhelmed with the situation.
Duisburg's mayor said: "In the run-up to the event, we worked out a solid security plan with the organisers and everyone involved." But revellers, who tried to tell police officers about the mass panic, were sent away with comments like: "Do you want to organise this? You have to leave this to us!"
The revellers cannot be blamed for losing control and for stampeding out of fear. The deadly catastrophe is the fault of Love Parade management and the city administration.
The greed of the capitalists often ruins people's enjoyment. This applies to the Christopher Street Day parades, where political material is often forbidden while the participants are bombarded with advertisements of the official sponsors.
Similarly the discos and music festivals are overpriced. Big music labels talk about 'culture' but only think of their profits.
The initial sadness over the loss of life in Duisburg is now turning into anger. Even the right wing tabloid Bild wrote: "Seldom have so many experts warned so clearly of the risks of holding such a mass event on a site that was completely unsuitable.
Why didn't someone do something? Did those responsible for the organisation think that a couple of positive headlines were more important than the safety of the participants?"
On Sunday (25 July) Duisburg's Mayor was attacked on the street, pelted with litter and abused as a "greedy avaricious pig".
Demands are growing, even in his own party, for his resignation. And on 29 July hundreds demonstrated outside the Duisburg Town Hall with the slogan: "We fight your greed for profits and prestige!"
In The Socialist 4 August 2010:
War and occupation
Workplace news and analysis
Youth fight for jobs
Environment and socialism
Socialist Party LGBT
Socialist Party events
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party news and analysis
Review & Comment