Birkenau – Photographing the Holocaust Pt.2

Birkenau is a horrific place, a scene of unspeakable brutality and a constant reminder of where nationalism, racism and bigotry can lead to.

From a photographic perspective, it’s best to document what’s there for one’s own memory or reflection  – certainly not a place for selfies.  The visual imagery of course is instantly recognisable so I kept it simple especially in a harsh winter’s afternoon light.

P2216809 mono P2216805 mono

P2216888 mono

P2216869 mono P2216828 mono

P2216794 mono P2216861 sol

P2216854 mono

P2216866 mono P2216852 mono

Over the years there has been media reports and online discussions over the conduct of student groups visiting Auschwitz/Birkenau with Israel flags and chanting, sometimes with reported unruly behaviour.  I was visiting with a group of Irish students including those studying video/ photography and we had a lot of discussion before the visit on how to approach using cameras as well as discussion afterwards on the content we shot.  The photos below are of a group of Israeli students who were behaving in the manner described above.  I took a picture but didn’t video it.  Is the behaviour appropriate?  Coming from Northern Ireland where we’re also in a permanent state of dealing with sensitivities of recent past and 300 years of turbulent history, we wouldn’t condone such behaviour from our own students.

ISRAELI STUDENTS 1 COL ISRAELI STUDENTS 2 COL