No other country in Western Europe has suffered as much from terrorism as France over the past decade. With more than 50 attacks that have killed nearly 300 people , the nation has borne the brunt of some of the worst attacks in Europe.
Now, France plans to memorialize this collective suffering with a new museum that will trace the development of terrorism over the ages, including the attacks on the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and the Bataclan concert hall in Paris that have deeply shaken the country in recent years.
The move is a bold one given that the country is still grappling with the trauma of these attacks, with victims whose physical and psychological wounds are still raw.
In addition to the death toll, nearly 1,000 people have been wounded in attacks since 2012.
But the planners of the project say the museum is needed to help the people of France to confront and understand a scourge that they will be living with for some time.
"The very fact that we are creating a memorial museum while the phenomenon of terrorism has no chance of vanishing in the years to come is a way of showing our capacity to take a step back," Henry Rousso, a French historian who is overseeing the project, said in an interview.
"It is a form of resistance through culture, knowledge, intelligence and the transmission of experiences," said Rousso, who also helped create the Caen Memorial Museum, which marks the Normandy landings of World War II, and the Shoah Memorial in Paris, commemorating victims of the Holocaust.
President Emmanuel Macron of France pledged in September 2018 to create a memorial museum to place the victims of terrorist attacks "at the heart of our memories." The new museum is expected to be inaugurated in the Paris area by 2027 and will aim to show how France and other terrorism-affected countries have reacted to attacks over the past 50 years, with a particular emphasis on the resilience of their people.
Rousso said the perpetrators of the attacks would also be featured in the museum. Responding to questions he has faced about whether the museum would unintentionally glorify them, he said it was important to represent them as well.
"It is a history museum," he said. "When we do one on Nazism, we have to mention Himmler and Hitler."
"Terrorism, whether we like it or not, is part of our societies," Rousso said. "Creating a museum is not a way to put the issue behind us. It is a way to make people understand it."