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Wulff suggests Duisburg mayor should resign

DDP/The Local · 1 Aug 2010, 16:01

Published: 01 Aug 2010 16:01 GMT+02:00

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In an interview published on Sunday in the Bild am Sonntag newspaper, Wulff said, "Of course everyone should be considered innocent until proven guilty. But separate of personal guilt, there is also political responsibility. The mayor will have to consider all these things very carefully."

Sauerland has refused to consider resigning so far, saying he will wait for the results of an investigation into the errors and incompetence that led to the deadly crush at the July 24 Love Parade.

But Wulff also warned against blaming only Sauerland for the tragedy in the North Rhine-Westphalia city of Duisburg. "All we know for sure is that no single person is responsible," he said.

"We all hold responsibility for the people of Duisburg," the president said. "A catastrophe has nothing to do with the question of where it happened, but how."

He said he could understand people's need to identify those responsible, and said, "Those who made mistakes have to be called to account."

Story continues below…

Wulff intends to visit Duisburg again in mid-September, and he praised the speech delivered by North Rhine-Westphalia state premier Hannelore Kraft at Saturday's memorial service. "Even a politician has to show her emotions in such situations."

DDP/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

16:38 August 1, 2010 by cklb
yeah, it helps to resign. at least the people will have somebody to point at, and the problem is solved.

question is rather, how incidents like that can be prevented in future. some resonable suggestions for better (=the necessary) safety have been ignored in the planning phase, and that should not be possible in any future event (independently of what kind of event and in which city).
17:32 August 1, 2010 by Avidror
Who is the blond at the centre of the picture?
22:09 August 1, 2010 by romber58
@ Avidror

Thats my wife,,keep your mitts off...
22:10 August 1, 2010 by Struwel
In the middle of the picture your can see Bettina Wulff, the wife of President Christian Wulff.
00:49 August 2, 2010 by Canadianhaggis
Idiots, hang some crosses around their necks and they look like the Spanish Inquisition. You might as well blame Merkel too. and the head of the Armed Forces and the head of the Police....You nail the airheads that were in crowd control.
06:42 August 2, 2010 by Wrench
Another sign of how much people, as a whole, are idiots.

The organizers, the police, and in particular the participants. Now that they trampled 21 people to death, they claim it was the fault of the Mayor?
08:39 August 2, 2010 by auniquecorn
I agree with you 100 percent Wrench.
09:39 August 2, 2010 by Kanadian in Köln
As far as I'm aware, Germany has no equivalent to a Coroner's Office. Presumably if they did it would have weighed into this mess by now.

Without a Coroner, there is no feedback that would have prevented setting up a massive public event with only one entry/exit. In Canada/U.S/U.K. someone would have already been identified for failing to adhere to public safety laws (and/or the fire marshal for failing to check properly).

On a related note, has everyone seen those "quaint" daisy-chain elevators still in service in many German workplaces (including government offices)? They are essentially accidents waiting to happen. And try finding a construction worker with a hardhat.
09:53 August 2, 2010 by OMFG
@Kanadian - Yeah, that's because we Germans are still a development country... No Coroner, still daisy-chain elevators...but we do have color TV by now in MOST of the families!

Honestly - in terms of EH&S regulations, I don't think Germany has to hide from ANY country.
12:01 August 2, 2010 by Kanadian in Köln
@OMFG - Thanks for the response but your last sentence is merely a wordy way of saying "I disagree" without citing any instance to support your view. Perhaps you could provide an example of an "EH&S" regulation/process whereby Germany is ahead of ALL THREE of the countries I listed.

Or perhaps you think there is something intrinsically wrong with a Coroner's Office approach - if so, I'd really like to hear about that!

And your opening response had some irony! Obviously you've traveled abroad (congrats). The colour TV comment is particularly priceless: you have the technology - and perhaps in another decade or so the content will offer something other than novelty amusement value. (especially for those of us who have the privilege of paying taxes for it).
12:28 August 2, 2010 by babe7923
Hey @Kanadian - seems u have pissed off OMFG. Interesting how he doesnt understand your points or this tragedy would never have occurred.
13:10 August 2, 2010 by OMFG
Kanadian & babe - I agree what happened at Duisburg's Love Parade is a horrible tragedy, no question about that.

What I disagree with is people who tend to generalize things starting from one single event (like this tragedy), and even more I disagree when this generalization is polemic and putting a country (Germany in this case) into the light of a development country - too many North Americans are especially "good" at that.
15:40 August 2, 2010 by Kanadian in Köln
@OMFG - I fail to see any generalization in my comments and get the sense you are deflecting rather than responding.

I specifically said that a Coroner's Office would have prevented this tragedy - you have yet to respond as to whether or not you agree with that statement or indeed whether a Coroner's Office is even a good idea.

How may examples do you need before it's not a generalization? I gave three: failing to insure proper access, hard hats, and death-trap elevators. You want more? How about exit doors that open inward, and "lifeguards" who don't assess the swimming ability of those entering the deep-end or evacuate an outdoor pool during a lightning storm?

And you are pointing a finger at yourself if use a generalization (ie, "too many North Americans..") to complain about people who make generalizations. Or do you think your generalizations are okay?
17:46 August 2, 2010 by OMFG
@Kanadian - I wouldn't know why I would "have yet to respond" as to whether or not I agree with any statement... "I specifically said that a Coroner's Office would have prevented this tragedy" - Luckily you did not specifically say this, because if you had, you would probably doubt your own statements...

A Coroner's Office is simply not able to prevent such a tragedy, because if it was, there would be no tragedies in countries that do have a Coroner's Office, like the countries you had listed.

As for the pointing finger, I'm glad you figured out the sarcasm... No, I do not think my generalizations are okay.

As for the failing to ensure proper access, hard hats, death-trap elevators, inward-opening exit doors, "lifeguards"... Keep going - I'm not going to even start listing counter-examples... Where would that bring us anyway, if you seem to be so convinced about your own flawlessness...
22:35 August 2, 2010 by Kanadian in Köln
"Without a Coroner, there is no feedback that would have prevented setting up a massive public event with only one entry/exit." (from my original post #9) means that a Coroner's office would have prevented such a tragedy.

Accidents still happen in "Coroner Countries" but every time someone leaves a burning building via a fire escape or is saved by a defibrillators are examples of a Coroner preventing a tragedy. In the context of what happened in Duisburg, Coroners long ago made recommendations about ensuring multiple access to crowded events and this has prevented many tragedies (imagine if a fire had started in the one entry/exit - the results would have been even more tragic).

If you have any counter-examples I would be glad to read them - this is exactly what I asked for in post #11: "Perhaps you could provide an example of an "EH&S" regulation/process whereby Germany is ahead of ALL THREE of the countries I listed"

And just so we're clear, a Coroner's office is an independent body that can be directed to investigate public occurrences and can also choose do so on their own. This is important because one can hardly expect the police, fire, and the city officials to investigate themselves in a fair and unbiased manner.

Who or what body in Germany/Duisburg/NRW is best positioned to investigate what happened in Duisburg and why?
02:25 August 3, 2010 by Prufrock2010
The police and public prosecutor. Why? They're trained.

Germany may be the northernmost country of Africa, but it can still compete with North America in terms of technology and innovative thinking.


A North American living in Germany

PS The content of German television does indeed suck.
10:00 August 3, 2010 by OMFG
@Prufrock - I agree with you in that the content of German TV sucks. But it is also less of an influence for young criminals to become adult criminals - and the taxes we're paying for it, and the regulations that are in place to control public media are at least to a major part responsible for this. I've raisede kids in Germany, and I've raised kids in the US, I know what I'm talking about.

@Kanadian - you want "an" example...I give you one, for each of the EH&S...

Environmental - It's no rocket science to figure out how many more efforts Germany has made in the last couple of decades to implement environmental regulations than Canada/US/UK. You only need to look at the types of cars being driven in the different countries, or the gas prizes paid, or the infrastructure that has grown over the decades - in the US and in Canada it is hardly even possible to go grocery shopping with your bicycle, nor to get to work by train or bus even though commutes to work are longer (as an average) in North America than they are in Europe. People who travel in North America do this either by car or by plane - train is not even an option.

Here's a link regarding the "E" in EH&S, ranking Germany vs. "ALL THREE of the countries" you listed: www.nationmaster.com/red/graph/env_sus_sat_com-environment-sustainability-satisfying-companies&int=-1&id=EUR&id=NAM

Health - You wanted "an" example, here it is: www.nationmaster.com/red/graph/hea_obe-health-obesity&int=-1&id=EUR&id=NAM

Safety - I do admit that German companies have (and had to) learn a lot from US companies about the implementation of safety regulations, that's a fact that can't be denied. But if you want to bring up daisy-chain elevators, then I guess there's no issue in me bringing up high-voltage cables hanging around openly in almost each&every North American village, while they're all neatly covered under the ground in German villages (BTW, I don't even know if there are more daisy-chain elevators per capita in Germany than there are in Canada/US/UK...). But saftey is also about how safe I feel while living in a certain country (you hopefuklly agree with this statement), and there I have another example for you, which lists Canada/US/UK in an "impressive" Top-3: www.nationmaster.com/red/graph/cri_ass_percap-crime-assaults-per-capita&int=-1&id=EUR&id=NAM

I honestly don't know in detail about the "regulations/processes" in place (which is what you had originally asked me), but I'm sure there are some, to get to the results described in the links...
11:51 August 3, 2010 by Kanadian in Köln
@OMFG - I've raised children in both North America and Europe so by your standards I know what I'm talking about.

The TV sucks in Germany (as agreed) so why should I have to pay taxes for it?

And it isn't TV that turns young criminals into adult criminals (that's called getting old).

I'll freely grant that across the board Germany/Europe has adopted approaches that could be used in North America and vice-versa. And while I don't agree with either your "E" (where's the composting?) or "H" (try digging into a buried cable - this happens and is deadly too), my theme was "S" processes and you've failed to convince me Germany wouldn't benefit from a Coroner's Office.

(Personal) safety is a state of mind as you suggest, but public safety is something else and I don't feel Germany has the proper processes to deal with the aftermath of Duisburg.

Are they instilling a feeling a confidence in you that they'll get to the bottom of this and fix it going forward - seems to be a lot of turf protection and politicizing and that's about it at this point.

Personally I feel no safer in either Germany or North America but have only been mugged (twice) in the former (on the U-Bahn system in broad daylight).

You still haven't said who is best suited to investigate Duisburg.

I say a Coroner - who do you say and why?
12:29 August 3, 2010 by OMFG
I say a public prosecutor, because he/she is supposed to do that job, he/she can request "Gutachten" from professionals of different skill sets, and he/she is supposed to be independent, just like a Coroner is supposed to be.

At next instance it would be the Landesgericht, then Oberlandesgericht, and eventually the Bundesverfassungsgericht.

For major political issues, there's also the possibility of calling for the "Untersuchungsausschuss".

The tragedy in Duisburg is not even two weeks ago, and I am confident that more than just one public prosecutor has been dealing with it since the day it happened. Yes, it is a tragedy that should not have happened - whether or not there are "proper processes" in place that could have avoided it, you will never be 100% safe, no matter in which country you live. Also a tragedy like the Virginia Tech Massacre could have happened in any country of this world, and could still today happen in any country of this world, including the US.
08:20 August 4, 2010 by Kanadian in Köln
Public Prosecutor. Of course that's the obvious "inside the box" choice and he's already opened an investigation into "negligent homicide - suspects unidentified".

Naturally this is a legal investigation and not a public safety inquiry, so he's only looking to blame not prevent. This is short-sighted and the motivation for my original post.

Prediction: someone (not the police or the prosecutor) will eventually set up an ad hoc special inquiry on this because it is such a big story. But it would be far more effective to have an existing body (ie, Coroner's Office) that could do so not just when the story is big enough or when it is politically necessary but rather when it is the right thing to do. (that is the "outside the box" choice)

So when this special inquiry is finally set up, and they come up with recommendations, ask yourself why couldn't this have been an on-going process rather than just a one-off? (But I'm assuming you think the inquiry would be superfluous since Germany already has all the processes it needs?)

My own initial recommendations in light of what happened (if Germany doesn't want a Coroner, I'll step up):

#1: Public access to a confined space event should require advance ticket sales commensurate with the capacity of the venue.

#2: For confined space events, sufficient entry/exit access points should be arranged such the entire crowd, at a walking pace, could be evacuated in 15min

Both of these recommendations, if they had been in place would have substantially reduced the likelihood of what actually occurred.

Of course nothing/nobody is 100% safe but that doesn't mean you should run with a pair of scissors or hand them to someone blades first - both individuals and society need to take their experiences and adjust their behaviour accordingly - not just point fingers and look for blame.
09:09 August 4, 2010 by OMFG
Hey Kanadian - my point was, that such a tragedy can happen in any country of the world, no matter what the "proper processes" are that are in place there...

I was using the Virginia Tech Massacre as an example to point out, that even in a "Coroner country" these things can happen and they STILL can happen in that same country more than 3 years after the fact - because more than 3 years after the fact they're still investigating and no changes have been made to those laws that are thought to be mainly responsible for what happend and what caused 32 deaths (and here I'm going to quote from your initial post: "In Canada/U.S/U.K. someone would have already been identified for failing to adhere to public safety laws..." - Again, Duisburg is less than 2 weeks ago).

Another example where even TWO "Coroner countries" are involved: Gulf Oil Spill. How long did it take to have BP's CEO finally resign his post (with a nice severance package) - 3 months, 4 months? And as of today, I am not aware of any US politician who stepped back because they didn't care about the safety regulations for off-shore oil drilling companies, but they did care about the money it would bring them (makes me think about your pair of scissors...).

Again - I was not and am not pointing fingers. What I was and am trying to say is, that we can't be 100% safe, no matter what processes are in place. I do agree that it helps having SOME processes in place - but the Coroner's Office is OBVIOUSLY (see my two examples) not the process that saves the world.
19:00 August 4, 2010 by Kanadian in Köln
Your point was not ¦quot;such a tragedy could happen in any country¦quot;. Your original point was that you thought my original post put Germany in a bad light (post #10). And then you had a problem with people who generalize (#13). It wasn¦#39;t until your third post (after I accused you of deflecting) that you deflected again and said ¦quot;..there would be no tragedies in countries that do have a Coroner¦#39;s Office..¦quot;(post #15).

I already explicitly granted that accidents can happen anywhere (see posts #16 and #21) so you can't at this point assume we don't agree on that.

I never said a Coroner's Office prevents all tragedies, I said it would have prevented the recipe for disaster (to wit: ¦quot;…feedback that would have prevented setting up a massive public event with only one entry/exit…).

Of your two latest examples, only one is on point and the other suits me just fine:

VT was a conscious act and free will can not be regulated away. No matter how many rules are put in place for quiet times, restricted shopping hours, mandatory school attendance, etc.- free will survives!

Deepwater Horizon is an excellent example though ­ as it reinforces my point (see especially the word ¦quot;feedback¦quot; in my original post). Tragically 11 people died in the DH explosion but over 100 survived and for the most part because Coroners did their job. Do you know why every ship (yes, DH was a ship) needs sufficient life boats and life jackets/vests for passengers and crew? Because a Coroner said there should be. It wasn¦#39;t some Public Prosecutor looking to assign blame ­ it was a Coroner. And it was a Coroner who recommended proper alarms, communications, fire-drills, the lot. The combination of countless hours spent by Coroners came to the fore that day and saved over 100 lives.

You seem to think my position is that Coroner¦#39;s prevent accidents. To some extent they do but to a greater extent they make surviving an accident more likely. Yes, ships are going to sink but in those precious moments what processes and equipment can be in place to make survival more likely? Ask a Coroner.

If Germany had a Coroner, there is no way that venue would have been set up with a funnel tunnel. Not because he would recognize the danger the day/week before it happened but rather because something like it would have already happened in the past and his feedback would have meant ¦quot;never again¦quot;.

Just so we¦#39;re clear and on topic:

When the ¦quot;special Duisburg inquiry¦quot; is established will you be in favour of it?

If not, why not?

If so, why not institutionalize the concept with, say, a Coroner¦#39;s Office?
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