Some will say it was the ransom of excess : an event growing bigger by the year (up to 1 million people in 2010, as the organizers and the local authorities, among which the mayor, had told the press), a large proportion of participants making use of hard psychotropic substances, turning some weak minds into worse than animals, and the symbol of unity and universality misused by some greedy businessmen. Whatsoever, this year’s edition of the Love Parade, in Duisburg (Germany) will undoubtedly leave a sour taste, not only to those who took part in the event, but also to all those (“young” or not) whose ideal it is to unite people through music, through what should be positive vibes.
Indeed, after over 20 years of existence, the biggest techno music happening ever (gathering paraders from all over the world) will probably be remembered as a huge bloodbath, where 21 people (Germans, other Europeans, an Australian, an American) passed away, being literally crushed to death and trampled upon by a crowd in panic.
As we all witnessed on TV, the festival area was indeed foreseen for round and about 250 thousand people. Yet, it is close to a million people that were expected in Duisburg on July, 24. The result was total chaos : police and emergency services unable to reach the place of the drama, thousands of people stuck in the middle of nowhere, on their way to the city’s old freight station, where the DJ’s were playing. Among them, a few hundred pressed as sardines at a tunnel entrance with no possible exit, trying to fight their way out as hunted wild animals.
(For more information, please check out : http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,709763,00.html (in English).
For images and comments : www.youtube.com/user/dasloveparadedrama (in German).
It will be the local Court’s task to determine whether the organizers of the Love Parade are guilty of criminal negligence.
On a political level, though, it would have honored some people to take the right conclusion. Yet, despite all documents and analyses pointing to Mr. Adolf Sauerland, Duisburg’s mayor (“Oberbürgemeister”), despite the numerous complaints of German citizens against him, the latter doesn’t seem to find the necessary human dignity to resign.
Can this debacle somehow be compared to the Belgian Heysel drama, in 1985, where many lost their lives during an overheated football competition ? If so, only in worse : mismanagement, ill communication between the various entities in charge, disinformation of the public and total anarchy on the field : at the very moment the stampede was occurring at the entrance of the tunnel, Herr Sauerland managed to explain to the camera’s the restlessness was only due to a few agitated youngsters, which proves he not only hadn’t taken the necessary measures to prevent such a drama from happening, but he also wrongly assessed the gravity of the situation while the tragedy was happening.
Mrs. Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, who belongs to the same party as said mayor (the Civil Disturbance Unit, aka the party of Christian conscience), though very swift to show her empathy with the victims’ friends and relatives, doesn’t seem to consider it her duty to demand Sauerland’s immediate resignation. A token of solidarity between former Ossies ?
Power is a hard drug, too : with his refusal to resign and his hiring a bunch of marketing and communication spin doctors, in charge of presenting him as a collateral victim of the whole affair, Mr. Sauerland proved he is addicted ! Nonetheless, his name will forever be associated with Sorrowland…
As a youth organization, it is our task – FYEG’s task –, I believe, to take the measure of what happened in Duisburg : the impact of such a drama on youth culture, on the way youth is perceived, the diversion of love by big business (That’s what we’re fighting against on a global scale, isn’t it ?), etc.
Therefore, FYEG should, in my view, join the lamenting choir of all those demanding Herr Sauerland’s resignation. ASAP !
Yannick Baele (Belgium), 08/23/10