For many music fans, summer is festival season. There’s nothing quite like gathering with thousands of strangers in beautiful weather to take in some top-shelf tunes. However, those circumstances are also ripe breeding grounds for tragedy, especially when enclosed spaces are involved. We need only look at what happened during the 2010 Love Parade in Germany for proof of that…
Since 1989, The Love Parade had taken place in Berlin. In 2010, the organizers attempted to hold the festival in a new city in the west, Duisburg. It was also the first time that the festival was held in an enclosed area.
The capacity of the venue was limited to 250,000 people, but officials estimated anywhere between 200,000 and 1.4 million people were expected to attend.
Entrance to the festival, which was held in a former freight station, was supposed to begin at 11 a.m. but ended up starting around noon instead. The supposed only way in was through an 800-foot-long ramp. However, police closed the tunnel because of overcrowding and attempted to announce over loudspeakers that newcomers should leave and use a different entrance.
However, new people continued to pool into the tunnel causing a stampede. Twenty-one people were killed and 500 suffered injuries. The autopsies on all 21 bodies indicated crushed rib cages as the cause of death.
“I will never forget the sight. There were all these twisted-up bodies of those who had been crushed. They were lying at the tunnel exit. Their faces had all turned blue,” said one eyewitness who survived being trapped in the tunnel.
A Redditor who was at the festival but got out in time described her experience like this:
It was “one of the most surreal experiences I ever lived through. Thanks to my experience I was able to get out at the peak. My friend was furious at me that I dragged her out and that I behaved the way I did. She thanked me when she saw the bodies lying down.”
In response to the tragedy, the organizers of the Love Parade announced that they were retiring the festival. “The Love Parade has always been a joyful and peaceful party, but in future would always be overshadowed by yesterday’s events,” said organizer Rainer Schaller.
For a taste of what it was like in the final moments before officials began to clear the crowd, you can check out the video below. WARNING: It is very upsetting.
I remember when this story broke. I happened to be studying in Germany at the time. It was surreal, to say the least. The only reason for these deaths was poor planning. Everyone was just there to have fun.