Sometimes, a picture just composes itself right there and then in front of your camera. You don’t have to do anything except perhaps spot what’s about to happen, shift a little to the left or the right, point your lens and click. There it is.
The Auschwitz tour is a sobering experience. Most people who walk out of it are rattled, subdued, unsettled and quiet, as I was myself the first time I visited, but not these Israeli kids. They might just as easily be posing for the camera outside Disneyland.
I found it strange seeing groups of people walking around Auschwitz waving a national flag. Given that the Nazis attacked the Jews, it didn’t seem appropriate that these young people would be using a political emblem that many Palestinians see as a symbol of oppression, and of course, while we have to make allowances for the fact that teenagers can be idiots, we can make no such allowances for the adults who supervised them.
Waving any national flag in Auschwitz is a highly-charged political statement. It stakes a claim over the site of the crime and in the case of the Israeli flag, it makes two contradictory statements: this must never be allowed to happen again, and we will crush anyone who stands in our way. Auschwitz has come to symbolise the location where human beings committed an enormous obscenity against other human beings. This is the absolute heart of darkness, and it is not a place for political flag-waving, in my opinion,
Thankfully, we’re still permitted to have an opinion in these things, now that the Nazis have been defeated. Aren’t we?
Nobody owns the franchise to the Holocaust.