The questions that linger six months after ISIS shot up the Bataclan

The World
Updated on
Memorial outside the Bataclan in Paris

Flowers and signs memoralize those killed at the Bataclan about a month after the November 13, 2015 terror attacks. 

Carolyn Beeler

It’s been six months since a group of Islamic State gunmen turned their weapons on Paris.

This week, outdoor terraces at the same cafes where people were shot in November were full of people.  

But for those who lived through the attacks, the memories are still painful.

Aurelia Gilbert photo

Aurelia Gilbert survived the attacks at the Bataclan nightclub in Paris. Now, she's helping victims and their families get the help they need in the wake of their attacks. 

Credit:

Adeline Sire 

Parisian Aurelia Gilbert, 43, was in the Bataclan nightclub with friends on Nov. 13 when gunmen started firing on the crowd.

She was on the right side of the orchestra pit when she heard shots and screaming and got down on the floor.

“We were just hearing the noises, first the noise of the bullets and the shouting and people crying, and then everything went quiet,” she said.

She remembers texting her husband, to tell him that she was still alive, a message she never expected to have to send.

Trained in emergency response techniques, Gilbert’s first reaction was to help those who had been injured.

“The first thing you think when you see them bleeding,” Gilbert said, “is 'I have to save them,' and that’s a good thing because it prevents you from thinking too much to what would happen to you.”

Gilbert survived by hiding in a stairwell during much of the shooting.

She escaped physically unharmed, and without the nightmares or PTSD that other victims suffer. 

“But I could not pretend that nothing happened; this is why I thought it was important for me to help other people,” Gilbert said.

Gilbert helped form an association called “13 Onze 15: Fraternite-Verite” to help victims and their families get the psychological and financial support they need after the attacks.

“The people who lost their kids, their husbands, their wives, their brothers and sisters, they are still in shock, they are grieving,” Gilbert said.

Gilbert says in addition to helping victims’ families learn more about how exactly their loved ones died, or getting compensation for the injured, she has also been thinking over the past six months about what drove the ISIS terrorists to attack their own countrymen. 

“Those guys, they were French. And I really want to know, where, as a French society, where we lost those guys,” she said. “[Why] the only hope they had was to go to Syria, join ISIS, come back and kill us?”

Gilbert and the friends she attended the concert with all escaped with their lives. 

But today, Gilbert says she is thinking about the victims whose families she has gotten to know through her work with the victims' association.  

“Now I know their parents, their brothers, sisters, sons, wife. And now it’s like I’ve lost 130 friends,” Gilbert said. “So I’m really thinking about them today.”

Update: A previous version of this story incorrectly noted the attacks on the Bataclan Theatre were on November 15. The attacks occurred on November 13.