Loveparade survivors: “I could not breathe anymore” ( Via Google Translate)
Rosalinda B. crashed and was traumatized. Manfred B. documented the events in the deadly scrum. As witnesses, they reported on the process of witnessing the 2010 Loveparade. Andrea Grunau from Dusseldorf.
“Help, get us out of here !!!” The 7th day of negotiations in the Loveparade trial is almost over, screams of pain and shrill cries for help ring through the courtroom in the Düsseldorf Congress Hall. On three large screens, the district court Duisburg shows videos titled “Chronology of a Disaster – Part 1 to 4”. One sees in it, how humans, who want to celebrate at first cheerfully, evidently in fear of death try to flee from the unbearably close trap between a high wall, an embankment and urgent people in tunnel entrances. A few escaped via a narrow staircase, bodies are repeatedly passed over the heads of others, others climb over their heads themselves.
Manfred B. (34), now co-prosecutor and witness in the process, uploaded the videos to Youtube at the end of July 2010 a few days after the Love Parade disaster. He had filmed the first sequences as a diary for himself as in previous Loveparades, he explains in the survey by the presiding judge Mario Plein. The later shots in life-threatening throng he had made to document the events. The video has a voice that says, “Such a shitty organization, unbelievable, a fence of a million people, how sick is that?”
The luck to be 1.90 meters tall
The performance lasts nearly 40 minutes: screams and noise change with silence when photos are displayed. Manfred B. makes it clear on text panels that he was lucky because he is 1.90 meters tall and strong. In the crush, he almost strangled someone because his elbow pressed against his neck. He could have pulled off his arm, but he could not have avoided evading anyone under him. After the last video, there is a moment of deep silence over the large courtroom. You can hear the humming of the air conditioning and your own heartbeat, which has noticeably accelerated.
With the beginning of evidence, the process now focuses on the horror experienced by visitors to the Love Parade, when many struggled for their lives in a confined space. On July 24, 2010, 21 people were killed and at least 652 injured. The first days of the trial had mainly influenced requests from the defense. They emphasized recently that their clients – employees of the city of Duisburg and staff of the organizer Lopavent – are only “suspects from the second row”, the “fake in the dock”. Above all, the police would “kept out of responsibility”. The charge is for negligent homicide and negligent assault.
“Do not let go of my hand!”
Rosalinda B. was injured and traumatized. “The air was squeezed, we were pushed from the front and the back, like sardines in the tin,” Rosalinda B. delves into her memories when she reports at noon as a witness in the Loveparade trial. The 31-year-old from Duisburg starts hesitating, looks at her hands, rubs her fingers again and again. “Nobody is doing anything here”, Judge Plein tries to reassure her.
Düsseldorf Loveparade Process (picture-alliance / dpa / I. Fassbender)
“I’m sorry for the co-plaintiffs,” said Judge Mario Plein, as the testimonies were delayed
Her older sister Giusi had injured her hand on the way to the festival site, she says. To look for paramedics, the young women were reversed and rushed into the crowd. A police cordon would have blocked their way. “Do not let go of my hand,” her sister had said, but they had been scattered as well as the police cordon. “I felt as if I had been the smallest, there were only upper body and backpacks,” Rosalinda B. reminds herself: “I could not breathe.” A young man tried to help her, but she fell at the bottom of the stairs.
Survivors: seven years of guilt
“Next to me lay a young girl,” she keeps telling her that she asked for help, Rosalinda B. puts her hands over her face: “But I could not help it, because people could not help me It was getting heavier and heavier. ” The witness is tormented and close to tears: “I do not know if the girl survived, I’ve felt guilty for seven years,” she says. “Only those who have gone through that can understand that.” Lawyer Julius Reiter, whose law firm represents about 100 co-plaintiffs and Loveparade-injured, knows such “survival guilt feelings” also from his clients, he reports the DW.
Rosalinda B. became unconscious, woke up only in the ICU in the hospital, she was ventilated. The doctors diagnosed a massive breast squeeze, a thoracic trauma, bruises, a mental shock. She was in great pain. Weeks of hospitalization followed to treat her traumatization. Until last year, she was unable to work, says the 31-year-old, now she is training in nursing. If she remembers back then, she still feels “this tremendous pressure” today.
“I ran like a zombie”
When the life-threatening crush on the Loveparade in Duisburg came to an end, there were two lifeless bodies right in front of him, reports Manfred B. Sachlich, as he tried to reanimate her with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. A police officer had helped him until paramedics had taken over, in both cases in vain. He remembers the colors of the garments: pink and green.
Love Parade Duisburg 2010 Mass Panic (AP)
Care after the disaster: At least 652 people were injured
When there was nothing left to do he went up the stairs. Until the evening he stayed at the festival area, where many ravers were celebrating who did not know what had happened. “That was very surreal, I walked like a zombie,” says the prospective teacher.
“I’m not a hero,” Manfred B. wrote as a text in his video. In the throng he had tried to help a young woman who was depressed on the floor among many others. “We come out of here”, you can hear him say in the video. He asked her to fight, not to give up. He held her hand. In 2010 he was honored together with other private helpers by Federal President Christian Wulff. Through his videos he found the girl whose hand he had held. In December 2010 he was invited to a talk show with her.
Germany Loveparade rescuer Manfred Bauknecht and rescued Kristina Muth at Günther Jauch (picture-alliance / dpa / H. Ossinger)
Loveparade rescuers and rescued – Manfred B. and Kristina M. were invited in 2010 to a television review of the year
Enlightenment, repression, much sadness
For traumatized witnesses it will be very difficult to remember details that contribute to further education, defender Kerstin Stirner suspects. Rosalinda B. also testified that she had tried to oust a lot, she even moved away from Duisburg. “All the more important are people like the second witness, who made such a solid impression that he might be able to give a more detailed impression of the events, so this witness should be interviewed even more intensively later,” Stirner told DW.
Düsseldorf Loveparade Process (picture-alliance / dpa / I. Fassbender)
About 30 defenders represent the ten defendants in the Loveparade trial
From the point of view of the defense, it was of interest “whether and how individuals perceived the events on the day of the event, in particular, of course, the police chains and their immediately noticeable consequences”. This is important for “the question of the causality of individual circumstances for the tragedy”.
The interrogation of Manfred B. was interrupted and will continue next week. Yes, he seems stable, but when presiding judge Mario Plein asks him how he mentally coped with the events, he is silent first. Then he tells of sadness and that he “had to cry a lot”. Even if he could work and go back to the disco, if he was interviewed and dealt with the Love Parade as now for the process, then he noticed internally “a lot of sadness”.