Questions concerning liability
1) Why has there been no official investigation of the causes of the accident?
The German authorities saved the main wreckage pieces especially for this purpose and repeatedly offered to the Swedish consulate in Hamburg, as the representative for the Swedish authorities, to carry out or to help with an official investigation. The consulate had been very busy with the case and was well informed. It first delayed the response for a long time, and finally on November 23 in 1950, after valuable time and important evidence had already been lost, the consul, Torsten Bergendahl, categorically declined all offers concerning an investigation. Any reasons for this rejection are missing in the archives, and it is even unknown if the consul decided on his own or upon order from Sweden. One can assume, however, that the relevant Swedish authorities had some general knowledge about the serious flaws in Ormen Friske's construction and possibly thought that they would be embarrassing for Sweden. Perhaps there was also the intention to protect the relatives of the victims and other involved persons against legal controversies on compensation issues.
2) What would have been the effect of an investigation?
The result would have been the same as in the present analysis of the photographic material. Because the construction flaw that made the keel break must be considered as the result of gross carelessness, the responsible public prosecutor would have been forced to investigate concerning the crime of causing death through negligence in 15 cases. ("Who causes somebody else's death through negligence, is sentenced to prison for up to two years or, in case of a minor offense, to fine. Severe crimes are punished by prison from six months to six years. When judging whether the crime is severe, particular consideration shall concern 1. whether conscious risk taking of a serious kind is involved, or 2. whether the offender, when special attention or skill was needed, was influenced by alcohol or any other substance or otherwise was guilty of a serious neglect." Swedish Criminal Code, chap. 3, § 7).
3) Against whom would have been investigated?
The construction drawings had disappeared without trace directly after the accident. But it is known who took part in drawing them. These were three persons: the project's initiator and leader, Sten Schröder, the only one of those with liability who later fully took part in the disaster voyage and lost his life, shipbuilding expert Sam Svensson, who later took part in the disaster voyage only for the first day after the start in Sweden, and Bror Westerlund who later was the foreman of the team of shipbuilders that built the ship.
4) Who knew about the extremely weak point in the keel?
Because the keel was not covered by color paint, many must have seen the five plank joints below the stern edge of the keel swine. Besides Bror Westerlund, there were five other shipbuilders. During the spring equipping in 1950, when the boat was still docked up after the winter rest, once again many must have seen the weak point. First and foremost, however, the three men who had made the drawings, Schröder, Svensson and Westerlund, must have seen it several times with attentive expert eyes. The later victims of the catastrophe, apart from Schröder, had no chance to see it, because they came from all over Sweden first to the start of the voyage, when the boat was launched already, with the keel no longer being visible.
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