What It Was Like At The Stade de France During The Paris Terror Attacks

A student at the University of Paris describes the scene at the Stade de France during the terrorist attacks in Paris.

Nov 17 2015, 4:47pm

Alle Fotos: Imago

This article originally appeared on VICE Sports Germany.

Philipp, 26, is a political science student at the University of Paris. He is a football fan and was at the Stade de France on Friday to watch France play against Germany. When I asked him via SMS if he could tell me his account of the night, he immediately responded, "I would love to. Can we do it later? My university has just been evacuated, and people are panicking a bit. My phone battery is also almost dead. I will message you back when I get home." Philip eventually messaged me back on Monday evening:

I just finished attending a lecture [on Monday afternoon] on American diplomacy by a former ambassador. I study political science. We held a moment of silence prior to class. Shortly afterward a security guard stormed into the classroom and told us that the university was being evacuated. The alarm went off and we all went outside. Later we found out that somebody had forgotten their backpack in the hall. This just shows how nervous everybody is right now. It's more difficult for someone to come into the university than it is to go inside a nightclub.

Many of my classmates were in downtown or at the stadium on Friday night. For them, of course, this brought back a lot of memories.

I was at the game with two friends, both German. One is an exchange student here in Paris, the other works at (the German-French TV station) Arte in Strasbourg. I have to admit that my mother is from France and ever since I can remember, I've been a fan of the French national team. That being said, I also like the German team. I had been very much looking forward to the match.

I picked up my friends, we went to the stadium and were having a good time. Maybe it was boring for people who were watching the game on TV. But we loved it. We enjoyed seeing what these famous football players do with the ball, how they move in space when they don't have the ball. It was a lot of fun.

We heard the first explosion but at first we thought that maybe firecrackers had detonated in the catacombs of the stadium. Of course, it also passes through your mind that it could be something bad, although no one really quite wants to think that it's a bomb. We looked at the security in the stadium and everyone seemed very calm. Even after the second and third explosions it was still pretty calm.

I was not getting very good cell reception in the stadium. So I only got a couple of text messages during the game. From the 70th minute on we would occasionally get messages. I was pretty happy to watch two beautiful French goals. And then the game ended, an announcement was made that the exits would be partially closed because of incidents around the stadium.

We waited until we started to see people quietly being ushered onto the field. I immediately had images of mass panic. But the security concept worked brilliantly. Security managed to calm everyone down and lead fans onto the field. Everyone was trying to reach their relatives. But the internet and cell service was very spotty.

None of us knew exactly what had happened. There were only rumors of explosions. We were just trying to remain calm and not get anxious like several people around us, young girls who were crying, and some fans who had tried to climb over the railing. Such panic was unnecessary because the situation was completely under control. But you can't really blame people for acting so emotionally in that situation.

After about 45 minutes, we were escorted out of the stadium through the west stands. But none of us knew where to go. Train service had been stopped, so we walked around aimlessly for awhile. You could hear sirens and see policemen with guns everywhere. These policemen were working hard, but you could go up to them and talk to them. They were very friendly and gave us as much information as they could. It took us an hour to get home, but only because we were trying to find out what had happened. It turned out to be quite a different night than we had expected. I live in the middle of three hospitals and usually I'm constantly hearing sirens. But on Friday, those sounds struck me quite differently.