help at hermannplatz

A couple of days ago, I came across a woman in the Hermannplatz U-Bahn, who was crouched down, leaning against a wall. Her pants/underwear were pulled down to the middle of her thighs.  The strange thing was I wasn’t the first person to notice her. At least 20 people had just turned the same corner and another 20 were already standing in the same area, a bit removed.

I just read this old piece on Unterlassene Hilfeleistung (failure to render assistance?) and I wonder about the two reasons they gave why people don’t help in an accident/dangerous/emergency situation. 1. The fear of doing something wrong  2. Everyone is thinking that someone else can do whatever needs to be done better and so no one acts.



  1. Ben said,

    Saturday 28 October 2006 at 2:37 pm

    that’s crazy, but oh-so-common… a lot of people are just risk averse to get ‘mixed up’ in anything that looks like trouble — especially if you’ve already seen 15 similar episodes already on your way to work (I’m guessing you offered some help, though ;-))

  2. patrick said,

    Friday 3 November 2006 at 5:13 pm

    i’m at work right now, the guy sitting next to me was beaten down badly a few weeks ago. everybody ignored him lying on the floor. it’s sad. i don’t have any satisfactory explanation for people acting like this. btw: i see you’re recommending a book by toni morrison… they’re giving away 100.000 books by her for free here in vienna in november (

  3. sattva said,

    Monday 13 November 2006 at 3:32 pm

    hey patrick,

    sorry to hear about your colleague. i can’t really understand it either.

    thanks for the link (and reminding me to update my reading list 🙂 )

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