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The city of Paris plans to archive thousands of notes and drawings left at informal memorials for the victims of November's terrorist attacks. The biggest memorial is outside of the Bataclan concert hall where 90 of the 130 victims were murdered by Islamist radicals. NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports that six weeks later, people are still paying their respects.
ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: Here in central Paris on Boulevard Voltaire in front of the Bataclan there is still a mountain of flowers and notes and poems and drawings and even lit candles to the victims of that night from people around Paris, France and the entire world. And this is what the city of Paris wants to preserve. 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 is in charge of the operation.
GUILLAUME NAHON: (Speaking French).
BEARDSLEY: "All of this testimony out here has emotional, historical and even scientific value," he says. "When we've finished, the entire collection will be preserved and then digitized and 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. The Bataclan is still closed, and the entrance is covered with a tarp. Maria Lopez Olivera lives down the street. She moved to Paris from Portugal in 1967 as a 20-year-old, about the same age as many of the victims, she notes.
MARIA LOPEZ OLIVERA: (Speaking French).
BEARDSLEY: "I think it's good to put all this in the archives," she says, "because it's terrible and shocking what happened. We have all been so affected by it." Hundreds of the drawings and notes are from children. And they're illustrated with the Eiffel Tower or the French flag. Volunteer Gerald Leonard is helping the archives collect the memorabilia. He says one boy's note particularly touched him.
GERALD LEONARD: (Speaking French).
BEARDSLEY: "The boy said, we're not scared anymore because they got all the bad guys."
LEONARD: (Speaking French).
BEARDSLEY: Leonard calls this mound of remembrances the very heart of history and says it's our obligation to preserve it for generations to come. Eleanor Beardsley, NPR News, Paris.
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