School No. 1: The Beslan Siege • Diana Markosian • Magnum Photos

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School No.1

Diana Markosian's photo essay explores the legacy of the Beslan School No.1 siege, where an Islamic terrorist group held over 1,100 people hostage and left 334 dead

Diana Markosian

Diana Markosian | School No.1 School No.1 days after the siege. Drawings from survivors made in 2004, integrated into photos of the hostage location. Beslan, Russia. 2014. © Diana Markosian | Magnum Photos
Diana Markosian | School No.1 Classmates on the first day of school. None survived. School No.1 days after the siege. Drawings from survivors made in 2004, integrated into photos of the hostage location. Beslan, Russia. 2014. © Diana Markosian | Magnum Photos
Diana Markosian | School No.1 A pinafore worn by Anastasia Nazarova. 1994-2004. School No.1 days after the siege. Drawings from survivors made in 2004, integrated into photos of the hostage location. Beslan, Russia. 2014. © Diana Markosian | Magnum Photos
Diana Markosian | School No.1 Medina Pukhaeva, 11, was about to begin sixth-grade when she and her family were taken hostage at School No 1. She died after the second explosion on September 3rd. Beslan, Russia. 2014. © Diana Markosian | Magnum Photos
Diana Markosian | School No.1 A photo album of 15-year-old Oksana Kokova, who died in the siege. In one picture, she wears the same uniform she wore when she waved goodbye to her father for the last time. Beslan, Russia. 2014. © Diana Markosian | Magnum Photos
Diana Markosian | School No.1 Diana Agayeva, now 17, was 7 when she was taken hostage. "I didn't know what a terrorist was. I asked my mom, "Is a terrorist a good person?" Beslan, Russia. 2014. © Diana Markosian | Magnum Photos
Diana Markosian | School No.1 Classroom 15, once used to teach Russian, became an execution chamber. The terrorists shot and killed more than 20 men the first day. Beslan, Russia. 2014. © Diana Markosian | Magnum Photos
Diana Markosian | School No.1 A dress shoe worn by Agunda Gatsalova. 1992-2004. Beslan, Russia. 2014. © Diana Markosian | Magnum Photos
Diana Markosian | School No.1 Terrorists filmed the corpses of fathers who were shot and thrown out the window. The caption on the footage reads, "Time for Happiness". Beslan, Russia. 2014. © Diana Markosian | Magnum Photos
Diana Markosian | School No.1 Alex Badoyev, 17, a former hostage, stands in Classroom 15, where his father was killed. Badoyev was in the gym with his mother, held captive for three days. Both survived. Beslan, Russia, 2014. © Diana Markosian | Magnum Photos
Diana Markosian | School No.1 A diary entry written by Khristina Tsgoeva, who lost her sister, on the third day of the siege. "If I knew we wouldn't escape, I would've hugged you tightly those last few days. But I didn't even d (...)
Diana Markosian | School No.1 Alyenka Tskaeva,10, and her brother Makhtar Tskaev,13, survived the siege. Their mother's body was found in the burned shell of the gym, clinging to her eldest daughter. Beslan, Russia. 2014. © Diana Markosian | Magnum Photos
Diana Markosian | School No.1 Footage shot by terrorists shows a masked hostage-taker standing on a dead man's switch during the crisis. "They told us to hold our hands like bunnies. Then they filmed us. I got scared because I (...)
Diana Markosian | School No.1 A blood stained undershirt found after the attack. Beslan, Russia. 2014. © Diana Markosian | Magnum Photos
Diana Markosian | School No.1 Alan Gapoyev,17, a former hostage. His mother was killed after the second explosion on the third day. Beslan, Russia. 2014. © Diana Markosian | Magnum Photos
Diana Markosian | School No.1 The first-floor hallway at School No. 1. Uncountable number of bullet holes and shrapnel-marks scar the walls. Beslan, Russia. 2014. © Diana Markosian | Magnum Photos
Diana Markosian | School No.1 On the day of the siege, Lena, 22, Zarina, 24, and Rozita, 20, walked to school together. They would later be forced to drink their own urine after days of thirst and starvation. All along, Rozita (...)
Diana Markosian | School No.1 Ashar Kozyrev, 1992- 2004. Beslan, Russia. 2014. © Diana Markosian | Magnum Photos
Diana Markosian | School No.1 Zarina Khadratsova, 21, a former hostage. Nine of her classmates died in the siege. Beslan, Russia. 2014. © Diana Markosian | Magnum Photos
Diana Markosian | School No.1 Dzerassa Gapoyeva. 1998-2004. Beslan, Russia. 2014. © Diana Markosian | Magnum Photos
Diana Markosian | School No.1 Portraits of the victims of the School No 1. The gym is now a makeshift memorial, where flowers and stuffed animals are placed on the blackened rubble of the window sills. Beslan, Russia. 2014. © Diana Markosian | Magnum Photos
Diana Markosian | School No.1 Yuri Aylerov, 50 and his wife, Rafa, 48, both hostages. Their daughter, Svetlana,10, was killed on the third day of the siege. Beslan, Russia. 2014. © Diana Markosian | Magnum Photos
Diana Markosian | School No.1 The bedroom of Oksana Kokova, 15, who was killed during the siege. Like so many of the victims’ rooms in Beslan, it remains unchanged. Beslan, Russia. 2014. © Diana Markosian | Magnum Photos
Diana Markosian | School No.1 At the memorial service, in the gym. Beslan has come to be defined by the 2004 hostage. Nearly every single family was affected by the siege. Beslan, Russia. 2014. © Diana Markosian | Magnum Photos
Diana Markosian | School No.1 At School No.1, where flowers and stuffed animals are left to commemorate those who died. Beslan, Russia. 2014. © Diana Markosian | Magnum Photos
Diana Markosian | School No.1 A list of wishes, written by Alina Galayeva, 1989-2004. Among them to finish school with a gold medal. Beslan, Russia. 2014. © Diana Markosian | Magnum Photos
Diana Markosian | School No.1 The Beslan School siege remains Russia's deadliest terrorist attack. Of the 334 people, 185 were children. Never before had a terrorist attack claimed the lives of so many children. Beslan, Russia (...)
Diana Markosian | School No.1 334 white balloons are released on the 10-year anniversary, one for each victim of the siege. Beslan, Russia. 2014. © Diana Markosian | Magnum Photos

Diana Markosian introduces her intimate project revisiting the town of Beslan 10 years after the siege of 2004:

“When the first shots fired, 11-year-old Zarina Albegaeva mistook them for fireworks.

Then she remembers running.

It was September 1, 2004, the start of school, a cause for celebration throughout all of Russia. Students were dressed in their best: girls in spotless white pinafores and boys in dress shirts buttoned to the collar.

A group of terrorists took Zarina, her sister and 1,200 people hostage in School No.1 in Beslan, a small town in Russia republic of North Ossetia.

Two days later, 334 of people were dead. Among them parents, teachers, and more than half, children.

Now 21, Zarina still has trouble talking about what happened.

“I don’t want to remember,” she says.

Zarina’s sister was among the people killed at School No.1, an event that has come to define Beslan.

A decade later, I returned to the tiny town to meet former hostages. Together we journeyed to the school.

This is their story.”