"I don't want the accused to feast on my suffering"

Published on : 13/10/2021 – 11:59

Former Bataclan hostage David Fritz Goeppinger is preparing to testify on October 19 before the special assize court in Paris. He intends to restore his memories and his vision of the terrorist attack “in the manner of an investigator” – but without “affect” – during this trial that he chronicles for a media, with his words and his photos.

The words of David Fritz Goeppinger betray a certain relief. Asked about his feelings since the start of the trial, six weeks ago, of the attacks of November 13, he told France 24 to feel better than he had been able to imagine. “I thought it would actually be worse,” reveals the 29-year-old over the phone. Come to attend the concert of the group Eagles of Death Metal on November 13, 2015 at the Bataclan, he was taken hostage by two terrorists, with ten people. He will be released thanks to the intervention of the Research and Intervention Brigade (BRI).

Each new week of audience turns into a ritual. When he goes there physically, he finds in the courthouse of Paris or in its surroundings a “hard core” of acquaintances: victims of the attacks, relatives, heads of associations …. “A kind of fraternity We are all there for each other, “he explains, insisting on the importance of this support for those who have difficulty living this long period or who break down from time to time.

He himself needed “once or twice” to step aside to successfully face this trial, organized almost six years after the fact. “I leave myself completely free to follow the hearings in my own way,” he says. And he can count on the webradio made available to the civil parties to follow the debates.

>> To see: For David Fritz Goeppinger, “trauma is grafted to existence”

David was 23 when he experienced the Bataclan attack. In the book “A day in our life” published in 2020, he described the horror lived that night, the endless hours spent under the threat of terrorists, the assault of the men of the BRI … He also recounted the difficult weeks and months that followed, the need to travel to his native country, Chile, his fight against post-traumatic stress disorder, his links with other survivors, his French naturalization in July 2017 …

Leave “a memorial base”

He returned to writing at the beginning of September to, this time, relate the trial in tickets posted on the FranceInfo website. The frequency of publication depends on the events of the day, the people they meet, their desire to tell or show.

This photography enthusiast notably offers portraits of victims or moments captured in the corridors of the courthouse. “I try to be a bit of the little mouse who shows things by giving a completely different point of view than that of a journalist or a victim,” he explains.

“A year ago, when my book was published, I understood that there was a force in words which is not the same as that of photography, which I am more proficient in,” analyzes David. “The basic story was to tell the daily story, with the three hats of writer, photographer and victim.” His objective is to follow the hearings until the end, so as to leave an essential “memory base” for him and those who follow the trial. And this material could of course then nourish a new work that he is already thinking of.

In this “Logbook”, he never mentions the names of the accused, leaving this work to journalists. He notably delivers his feelings about the audiences that follow one another. “I admire the people who deploy all their courage to address the accused. Civil parties after civil parties, the lexical fields of suffering, trauma, courage, love and strength are pushed to the maximum. The courtroom becomes the memory receptacle for the words of the victims of the attack, ”he wrote in a post on October 9, while following the trial via Internet radio.

The desire to control your hearing

David has just deserted Paris for a long weekend to prepare for his own audition scheduled for October 19. He worked on it with his wife Doris. “I don’t want to tell the aftermath, I want to focus on this event as I lived it, with my memories, my photographic vision of the event. I want something controlled. I don’t want the accused feed on my suffering or that of my wife, ”he adds.

>> To see: The survivors of the Bataclan tell these three hours of hell

After this harsh ordeal, the trial will last for many more months and David is aware that he will have to be enduring until the final verdict expected in May 2022. After having lived the time of reconstruction and that of the story, he intends to devote himself fully to its role of “memory ferryman”.

And after ? He still leaves himself time for reflection, knowing that one day he will have to “pick up”, in particular taking a step back from the media scene. This former bar manager will then decide in which direction he wishes to continue his life, brutally “deformed”, to use his words, by the terrorists on November 13, 2015. A date now tattooed on his left forearm, in Roman numerals (XIIIXIXV With the addition V / V which reminds this metal fan that, like his four friends present that evening at the Bataclan, he was lucky to survive the massacre that claimed the lives of 90 people.

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