‘Eyes of Hate’ Captured in Portrait of Nazi Politician by Jewish Photographer


In September 1933, LIFE magazine photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt traveled to Geneva to document a meeting of the League of Nations. One of the political figures at the gathering was Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, one of Hitlers most devout underlings and a man who became known for his “homicidal anti-Semitism.”

Eisenstaedt was a German-born Jew. Not knowing this at first, Goebbels was initially friendly toward Eisenstaedt, who was able to capture a number of photos showing the Nazi politician in a good and cheerful mood (as in the photograph above).

However, Goebbels soon learned of the Jewish blood flowing through Eisenstaedt’s veins. Subsequently, when Eisenstaedt approached Goebbels for a candid portrait, the politician’s expression was very, very different. Instead of smiling, he scowled for the camera, and the famous photo that resulted shows the man wearing “eyes of hate”:


Here’s what Eisenstaedt later shared regarding experience:

I found him sitting alone at a folding table on the lawn of the hotel. I photographed him from a distance without him being aware of it. As documentary reportage, the picture may have some value: it suggests his aloofness. Later I found him at the same table surrounded by aides and bodyguards. Goebbels seemed so small, while his bodyguards were huge. I walked up close and photographed Goebbels. It was horrible. He looked up at me with an expression full of hate. The result, however, was a much stronger photograph. There is no substitute for close personal contact and involvement with a subject, no matter how unpleasant it may be. [#]


He looked at me with hateful eyes and waited for me to wither. But I didn’t wither. If I have a camera in my hand, I don’t know fear. [#]

This powerful photograph would become one of Eisenstaedt’s most famous images, though he did shoot an even more iconic just months after Goebbels committed suicide at the end of World War II.

On August 14, 1945, Eisenstaedt photograph a sailor celebrating Japan’s surrender by kissing a random nurse in New York City. The photo came to be known as “V-J Day in Times Square.”

(via Iconic Photos and Erik Kim)

P.S. This photograph reminds us of Yousuf Karsh’s famous portrait of Winston Churchill, in which Karsh elicited a scowl from Churchill by stealing the cigar that was in Churchill’s mouth.

Image credits: Photographs by Alfred Eisenstaedt/LIFE Magazine

  • Darthkuriboh

    I suppose it’s not possible that someone else may have said something that upset him, and it had nothing to do with the photographer being a jew? Of course not, the jew is the eternal victim. Victim of it’s own hubris.

  • Chris

    Because they stick together with subversive intent. I dare you to follow that rabbit hole for verification.

  • Nite_Owl

    Every race, religion, and group has been hated at various points in history and for many reasons, some of them valid. Most get over it and try and move on with their lives. Some never do.

  • Ehhhh Yes Please

    Wouldnt the picture be much stronger of a non-Jew took the exact same picture?

  • canaduck

    “They were only propagating hate at that time. ”

    You don’t think that’s a reason to fear someone?

  • Nik

    I am Hindu, and I hate the cast system in my religion, its was once developed to rank people like todays army positions, but later by greedy cast groups rules were made like these days Rich makes laws for poor, but not for them..

    Who ever Hindu I talk, I just try to spread that why its the right time to break boundaries, and join hands to spread peace…..


  • Brian

    All it takes is a thread involving a Jewish person or Judaism to reveal people’s hatred. Sad. I’m with you on everything you said, bud.

  • yopyop

    No it wasn’t. But it’s not as pretty as it seems. The lady said later on that she was forced by the sailor; she was very surprised when it happens and it wasn’t a good experience for her!

  • Genrikh Yagoda

    Jews the only people one is not allowed to dislike. Poor Jews.

  • Law

    OH HE GOT THE EYES OF HATE ! OH THIS IS SO SCARY ! That was a pretty comically grandiloquent article. Telling the truth it doesn’t count how much hate Goebbels was feeling towards the Jews. The average Jew’s hate and contempt towards the goyims is far greater.

  • Davis

    “Eyes of hate” is a little hyperbolic, that scowl is like a child trying to be angry. It’s not really “hateful”.

  • Manfred stiegstiendnastuer

    The heading is very true it is indeed “eyes of hate” but to learn from history you have to look at both sides of the story. People rarely dare to talk about the hatred and contempt Zionists and Jews had for the gentile and how they manipulated politics at that time urging nations to get into war when they were not interested.

  • ProtoWhalePig

    We should look at the other side with respect to the Bubonic Plague in medieval Europe too. People rarely talk about the access Jews had to poison and their knowledge of where the wells were. Obviously their fault. Got what they deserved.

  • Pam Neufeld

    Just goes to show, how an ugly little man, that is a wizard of words, can destroy 6 million people.