Paris Preserves Impromptu Memorials To Victims Of Attack The city has decided to archive many of the cards, notes and other items left at the scenes of the Nov. 13 attacks. A volunteer helping collect the remembrances calls them the very heart of history.
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Paris Preserves Impromptu Memorials To Victims Of Attack

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Paris Preserves Impromptu Memorials To Victims Of Attack

Paris Preserves Impromptu Memorials To Victims Of Attack

Paris Preserves Impromptu Memorials To Victims Of Attack

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/461037541/461173154" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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A makeshift memorial at Place de la Republique in Paris, shown on December 24, is one of many sites where mourners have left tributes to the victims of the November 13 terror attacks. A coordinated series of gun and bomb attacks at several sites in Paris on November 13 left 130 dead. Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images

A makeshift memorial at Place de la Republique in Paris, shown on December 24, is one of many sites where mourners have left tributes to the victims of the November 13 terror attacks. A coordinated series of gun and bomb attacks at several sites in Paris on November 13 left 130 dead.

Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images

In November, after coordinated terrorist attacks killed 130 people in Paris, informal memorials began to grow on the streets of France's capitol city. Outside the sites of the attack, mourners left flowers, cards, candles, poems, signs.

Six weeks later, people are still paying their respects. And their tributes may live on: the City of Paris plans to archive thousands of notes and drawings from the unofficial memorials.

The biggest memorial is outside of the Bataclan concert hall, where 90 of the 130 victims were murdered. The Bataclan is still closed and the entrance is covered with a tarp. But the site features a mountain of tributes from people around Paris, around France and around the world.

Drawings, messages, photographs, flowers or teddy bears, like these items being collected by city agents, will be stocked in the Paris city hall's archives as a testament to the events of November 13. Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images

Drawings, messages, photographs, flowers or teddy bears, like these items being collected by city agents, will be stocked in the Paris city hall's archives as a testament to the events of November 13.

Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images

For the past two weeks, teams from the city's archives have been coming here to collect the memorabilia from the street and sidewalk. The artifacts are then dried out and cleaned.

Guillaume Nahon, who is in charge of the operation, says all the testimony on the street has emotional, historical and even scientific value.

He says when the archive crews have finished, the entire collection will be preserved and digitized, then put online for researchers and regular citizens to view.

Nahon says nothing was saved from memorials after January's attacks on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket that killed 17 people.

Objects collected by city agents from the memorial at the Bataclan lie in baskets outside the concert hall in Paris on December 10. Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images

Objects collected by city agents from the memorial at the Bataclan lie in baskets outside the concert hall in Paris on December 10.

Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images

Maria Lopez Olivera lives down the street from the Bataclan. She moved to Paris from Portugal in 1967 as a 20-year-old — about the same age as many of the victims, she notes.

She thinks it's good to put the memorials in the archives, saying Parisians have all been "so affected" by the terrible, shocking events.

Hundreds of the drawings and notes are from children, often illustrated with the Eiffel Tower or the French flag.

A child's drawing, featuring the Eiffel Tower and the French national flag, sits at a makeshift memorial in front of the Bataclan concert hall on Dec. 4. Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images

Volunteer Gerald Leonard, who is helping the archives collect the memorabilia, says one boy's note particularly touched him.

The boy said: We're not scared anymore because they got all the bad guys.

Leonard calls this mound of remembrances the very heart of history.

"It's our obligation to preserve it for generations to come," he says.