Only a wall five meters high separated the party-goers from the higher ground, where the celebrations were exuberant. In the afternoon of 24. July 2010 thousands, full of anticipation, flocked to the former main goods and marshalling yard in Duisburg for the legendary Love Parade.
An event that 1989 as a small street parade with 150 participants started in West Berlin, over the years became an internationally exposed technorave and later a mass spectacle and marketing event with an audience of millions.
But the way to the parade in Duisburg should turn out to be a bottleneck: the access was much too narrow for the enormous rush of visitors. The narrowness caused panic among those who enjoyed partying. Video footage shows disturbing scenes of people being pushed to the ground in the crowd and others who failed to climb the wall that removed them from the site and instead fell into the crowd.
A small stone staircase with short steps, many of whom fell victim to the crowds, became the symbol of the catastrophe in the months that followed: 21 People aged 17 to 38 years were crushed by the crowd, at least 652 people were injured. Many continued to struggle with the psychological consequences years later.
According to the self-help association “LoPa – 2010” from July 2014 At least six survivors committed suicide in the following years due to ongoing mental stress.
At the scene of the accident, in front of the stairs, the tragedy of the victims is also commemorated on the eve of the tenth anniversary. At a “night of 1000 lights” were around 1000 Grave lights lit. Many were described with memorial words. “It still hurts,” said a candle.
A private prayer was planned for the relatives in the evening. However, most of the relatives of the victims from abroad were unable to travel to the memorial service due to the ongoing corona pandemic.
Following the catastrophe ten years ago, the city of Duisburg, the organizer Lopavent and the police assumed responsibility for one another. In December 2017 a criminal trial began against ten defendants of the city and the organizer for negligent homicide and negligent bodily harm.
It was one of the most complex post-war procedures. The district court of Duisburg terminated the criminal case on May 4 and without judgment, because the accused are only marginally indebted. Victim lawyers Gerhart Baum and Julius Reiter said on Thursday in Düsseldorf: “In the end there is boundless disappointment.”
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This is “more or less aimed at everyone who was responsible for providing information – to the courts, the public prosecutor's office, but also the police and to a lesser extent also to politics” the lawyers emphasized. “The people actually responsible were not brought to trial – and it was a mistake on the part of the judiciary not to focus even more on the administrative failure of the city of Duisburg.”
They would be ashamed of their clients Especially towards the foreign ones – that in the end it was not finally clear what led to the catastrophe and which failure was responsible for it.
The lawyers added, at the same time it is not just about “the criminally relevant individual debt, which is no longer an issue due to the statute of limitations”. It was always also about uncovering the complex administrative failure in detail, which has not happened now. (With AFP, dpa)