250 Paris Attacks survivors return to Bataclan Concert Hall

In groups of five and six, supporting by psychiatric workers, they revisited the venue where 89 people died

250 Paris Attacks survivors return to Bataclan Concert Hall

A police officer stands guard outside the Bataclan concert hall. Image: Amr Nabil / AP/Press Association Images

Almost 250 people who survived the attack and siege of the Bataclan concert hall in Paris during the orchestrated terrorist attacks on November 13th last year have returned to visit the venue where 89 others were shot dead by violent extremists.

Accompanied by psychologists and health care workers, some of the survivors reportedly wept when they returned to the concert venue, almost a year after the events that left 130 people dead across the French capital.

“When I left the Bataclan, I imagined it as a bloodthirsty monster which wanted to consume me,” said Caroline Langlade, a member of the victims’ support group Life for Paris. “In fact, it’s just a room with walls where something tragic happened. It’s not the building itself which is tragic.”

Three terrorists representing the so-called Islamic State organisation entered the theatre brandishing machine guns while the American rock band Eagles of Death Metal were performing on stage to a crowd of 1,500. Langlade was among a group of 40 people that barricaded themselves inside a room upstairs in the venue, waiting out the hours-long siege of the Bataclan before police authorities stormed the building.

Florence Deloche-Gaudez, a member of the psychiatric team that has worked with the survivors, described the visit to the Bataclan as having a “calming effect” on many of them, even if it meant revisiting painful memories and tragic experiences.

“It allowed them to relive the event and feel those sensations again. The noises, the smells, what it looked it, the fear,” she said. “Some froze while others were walking around, re-tracing the route they had taken that night.”

In groups of five and six, the survivors made their way through the venue, posing questions to other survivors. “In many cases, that was the Bataclan security staff, who replied to their questions,” Deloche-Gaudez said.

According to reports, some of the survivors stayed for as long as an hour in the Paris concert hall, with some laying flowers and lighting candles.

The Bataclan’s managers are resolute that it will reopen to the public for concerts next month, around the time of the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks. While repairs have been made to some of the damage caused by explosions and gunfire, attempts have been made to “respect the various requests from victims and to respond to them wherever possible.”

Another survivor, who identified herself only as Maureen, told the AFP that visiting the Bataclan helped her recovery.

“When you do something like that, you don’t know what good it is going to do,” she said. “When I came out, I felt calmer. It might sound morbid to say so, but I felt it helped in my rehabilitation.”

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