What I wanted to do was give some hard numbers on this. I count 64 distinct individuals that can be seen. If one were to use this photo as an indictment, then you have to look at each person as an individual to see what they’re doing. 32 of the 64 could be said to be doing something that looks like a Hitler salute, but most of them are pretty poor. Some are spot on. Another 12 of the 64 are so poor or different that you couldn’t say they were a Nazi salute, such as fists in the air, bent arms, looks like they’re waving. 20 of the 64 simply can’t be seen, don’t have their arm up, or have the wrong arm up or have both arms up.
So, overall, it’s a 50% gotcha of the 64 boys.
Ultimately, the photographer is a jackass. I remember photographers from different stages of my life that would try to loosen tension by getting their subjects into compromising positions and then shocking them back to reality by pointing out what had happened. It’s an effective bit of shock therapy. But why snap a picture in the compromising position? Why release it as a part of the package?
I’m honestly not concerned or afraid for our youth as I believe they were trolled into this. I don’t think they requested a salute photo. I don’t think they knew what was really going on. I don’t think they were saluting to iconography or to send a message or to show respect to some abhorrent German political party.
Some of them were clearly quicker on the uptake and understanding of what was happening. Some you can see shock, confusion, and “wtf?” in their eyes. In all, I think we need to let this community sort it out. They got their moment in the public square of the internet, but back to reality.