"Well, first of all, I'd been expelled from the area. I was watching Falange executing groups of men in tens and twenties, butchering them in front of me; stabbing them, kicking them in the face...and you know, building up...you know, often people when they murder people like that in a genocide fashion, they have to build up hatred, and by doing so, they have to work themselves up and they have to become bestial; and they kick people, and punch people, and degrade people, because they have to bring on the courage and the excuse, and reason to murder. And I was watching this in doorways, and I could see men being shot down in cold blood in front of me; brains going all over the wall; I almost broke down. I saw some men standing there, and the next thing I know, they were dropping, and one of them was just saying, Allah, with the last breath from his lungs. And I went around into a stairwell, and I thought I was going to break down. I thought, God, you know; this is not real! What's going on? And I'd been with the Falange because we weren't allowed to operate on the other side in what they called the green line in those days; that's in West Beirut, so I was in East Beirut. But what shocked me before I end my story, was the fact that I was with people who call themselves Christians; that's what really got me. And so they said, 'you leave this area and you take no pictures.' And I was with a very nice journalist from The Sunday Times, who's now a professor at a university in the north of England, and we were walking quite shakily away from this butchery, and I heard music. And I said to Martin, 'do you hear music?' And he said, 'yes,' he said, 'but let's just get out of here; let's get going.' And I said, I can hear music; it's getting louder. And I passed a crossroads, an intersection, and sure enough, I looked up and I saw this dead young Palestinian girl who could have been no more than sixteen to twenty years of age, lying in this horrible, cold, damp road, because it had rained heavily the night before. And lo and behold! There was a group of young Christians; one with a Thompson machine gun and another with a Kalashnikov. One of them had a lute. And I said to Martin, 'I've got to get this picture.' And he said, 'no, no, no; let's go; we don't want to make any problems.' And then, one of them, the man with the lute said, 'hey mister! Come and take a photo.' And I said to Martin, 'I'm going to do this.' And I went off, and I took two shots, didn't even use my exposure meter, I guessed it; and then we fled. And it's…in many respects, I think it's more akin to a religious painting."
Interview with Don McCullin, audio and text but no pictures
Mike (Thanks to Sean K.) Photo: Don McCullin in 1986 (photographer unknown). Getty Images.