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People and Politics Forum 30. 07. 2010

"Are you personally afraid of attending a mass gathering?"

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More information:

Love Parade ends in tragedy - Duisburg after the disaster

There has been worldwide shock at the tragedy in Duisburg, where mass panic in a tunnel leading to the Love Parade left more than 20 dead and hundreds injured. The authorities are investigating claims that the disaster could have been prevented. Even though the organizers’ safety concept had been criticized in advance of the event, the Love Parade was allowed to take place.

Our Question is:

"Are you personally afraid of attending a mass gathering?"

In the Philippines, Rolf Bockmühl has this to say:

"I mostly avoid mass gatherings except the ones with seating arrangements, like soccer matches.But I shy away from all other mass venues. At one of these, on an aircraft carrier back in the 60s in Hamburg, my wife was lucky not to get crushed, and it's something I haven't really got over till this day...It was a very negative lesson."

Waltraud Maassen, in New Zealand, writes:

"I joined numerous demonstrations back in the 70s and 80s, and I wasn't intimidated by the masses of people. But what did make me fearful was seeing the police being drawn together and the resultant state violence against the protesters. That was pretty frightening! But what happened in Duisburg is completely incomprehensible. Everyone who was involved in the planning is to blame!"

Adalbert Goertz, in the United States, is playing it safe:

"I keep away from mass events. I’d rather see them on television."

Gerhard Seeger, of the Philippines, has an analytic eye:

"The larger the mass of people, the greater the danger when, for whatever reason, panic breaks out… especially if escape routes are too few and too narrow. What happened in Duisburg, after they ignored warnings from security experts, is unpardonable! I myself have never been to a mass event of any kind – I’ve never thought about whether the reason was fear, maybe even unconscious fear. At any rate, such events, with their huge masses of people, don’t attract me – on the contrary! Probably because my nature is more that of a lone wolf."

Herbert Fuchs, Finland, prefers open spaces to oversized crowds:

"I was never really keen to attend mega-events, it didn't matter what was going on … I don't feel comfortable in big crowds. I even notice it at the airport or the Christmas market – this sense of uneasiness and how hurried people are, with no inner calm whatsoever. I'm definitely not a pack animal, nor a sheep that follows everyone else. I'm more of a lone wolf (though my last name, Fuchs, means "fox" in German). I enjoy the tranquility of nature, and most of all, the sense of freedom in places like Lapland or elsewhere in Finland on a secluded lake; that's the world I like. In big crowds, my quality of life is lost. That's why I left my native country, so I didn't have to deal with people stepping on my feet from all directions – in more ways than one!!"

René Junghans avoids big events in Brazil:

"I'm definitely afraid to attend mass gatherings – I avoid them like the devil avoids the crucifix! A parade event takes place each year in São Paulo, and up to 3 million people come to the event. Mind you, the event is held on a wide street – the Avenida Paulista, with countless parallel and cross streets that people can get to in an emergency. But I still don't check out the event, even though it's always very colorful and peaceful – I'm just scared a panic could break out. Some thief gets nabbed and beaten up, and the clamor that makes people start to panic, and what then? In soccer stadiums here, for instance, it happens quite regularly – people start fighting and throwing punches, they panic and try to run off. If someone trips and falls, it's all over."

The editors of “People and Politics” reserve the right to abridge viewers’ letters.