‘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

  • Christian Bartsch

    scary how ideologies poison souls – but great to see photographs are able to show it..

  • Brendan Tonkin

    Thanks for posting both of these articles Michael. I love that both of these figures are in their own ways the most terrifying people to photograph, but to get these shots the photographer had to impose themselves into the scene – even if the photo itself doesn’t show there part of the story.
    I’m sure that this is the key to brilliant portrait photographers, but it’s hard to imagine other examples where you would need that much guts to do it.

  • WillToPower

    Goebbels looks more angry at the fact that there is a jew continuously photographing him, while he’s busy with the man to his right. “Eyes of hate”, ever read what the Talmud says about gentiles?

  • WillToPower

    September 1933, Germany was in the middle of an unprovoked international Jewish boycott of German goods, because Jews did not like the democratic will of the German people who elected Adolf Hitler. Everywhere that Jews exercised great wealth and power, such as Paris, New York ,etc, sales of German goods were forbidden or suffered dearly. There was a counter-boycott by the Germans of Jewish businesses, that is iconic and constantly referred to as racist, but never is the actual context provided. The more you know-..

  • Evropa

    You forgot the ‘trademark’ symbol after the word ‘hate’.

  • Chris

    I know that you have no idea what the word “unprovoked” means.

  • AW

    The kissing a nurse photo was staged.

  • Jack

    Oh, the ever present pro-Nazi in the comment section, who always comes to some absurd justification. They always have a copy of Mein Kampf on the nightstand next to a jar of peanut butter and Soldier of Fortune Magazine

  • madmax

    I don´t know you, but I don´t see such terrible “hateful eyes”… I´ve seen portraits of politicians with a lot more of that feeling, like Churchill´s.

  • madmax

    Yeah, but still very good

  • Georg

    I think I may have the same ‘eyes of hate’ when someone bothers me while im working :P

  • gentle and such

    leave the genitals outta this buster!

  • Jordan

    Okay, even if that Jewish boycott of German goods actually happened… yeah, the Jews were SO terrible for boycotting the goods of a country whose leader was an anti-Semite. Yeah, what a bunch of monsters.

    Please stop making excuses for genocide.

  • Obvious

    Putting this out there but when you post an article like this, expect the type of hurtful, ignorant, and stupid comments that will get posted, most of which have nothing to do with photography. It definitely makes a good headline though, lotta hits and clicks.

  • The more you know-..

    These are the same people that believe the slave trade was justified….and couldn’t meter to save their life.

  • Richard

    Eisenstaedt’s comments alone are worth the post. There will always be commenters who look for any excuse to exercise their anti-semitism and the best way to deal with them is to ignore them for the ignorant trolls that they are.

  • ThisGuy

    Ever read what the Bible says about atheists, or the Koran says about people who renouce their fate?

  • rhadagastt

    I know right– the American Civil War was the “war of norther aggression”

  • rhadagastt

    I can’t believe 11 people gave you a thumbs up. I disagree with you, but please don’t badmouth my post to anybody. If find I find out that you’re bad mouthing my post, I am going to kill you, your family, all your friends, and everyone with whom they associate. Does that sound fair to you? It outta, otherwise you’re a hypocrite.

  • springtime for hitler

    it’s spill off from the guy’s ultra right wing site, go to his profile and see he only made a few comments, then follow where else he commented. you want to see a backwoods section of the internet where some serious mommy issues happen, go there. or don’t.

  • dorabowers

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  • Yep

    The word “athiest” does not appear in the Bible.

  • Ellis Vener

    Gosh Will, I finally got it. What a good bit of April 1 foolishness. Nicely done.

  • Ellis Vener

    Great April Fool’s day joke Will! You do know of course that Goebbel’s bodyguard later showed at Eisenstadt’s hotel room door.

  • 9inchnail

    “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”

    Well, what did he have to fear? It was 1933, the nazis had not arrested let alone killed any jews yet. They were only propagating hate at that time. No one ever imagined the genocide that was to follow. So I don’t see why the photographer, at this point in time, should have been afraid. It was just a grumpy little man walking with a limp.

  • ThisGuy

    You’re right. I’d reckon they have better spelling than you. But in all seriousness:

    Psalm 1414:1 The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.

    Proverbs 19

    19:29 Judgments are prepared for scorners, and stripes for the back of fools.

    Romans 1

    1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; that they are without excuse:1:21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

    To sum up (seeing that you need explaining, as you seem to not understand the simple concept of synonymous or different words for the same concept), yes godless people are indeed mentioned and slandered in the bible. Now, go get a proofreader, scurry along

  • Wonderboy

    The question that nags me is WHY have Jews been so hated throughout history? 20th Century Germany is just the latest episode. There are stories about Spain, Babylon, Rome, Ancient Egypt, Russia, and more confusing history about other lands and times.

    WHAT do Jews do that gets so many people so upset for so long??

    I like the Jews I know and we get along fine!

    Somebody enlighten me.

  • Bodyguard

    I assume he does not know. Neither do I. Any reference?

  • Christian

    And you think that these harmless quotes are of the same quality than the hate speech in the Talmud?

  • ThisGuy

    Harmless is your intelectual depth. Go now, and sin no more you silly man

  • Mike

    Because they’re different. They didn’t want, couldn’t, assimilate- knowing that this will be the end of their nation in exile.
    As for past times, didn’t all empires do the same? I highly doubt there was much actual hatred back then, just taking land and expanding the empire. The resistance and rebellion that the Jewish nation showed were what forced the empires to exile them or treat them with more fascism.

  • Mike

    Are you the kind of person that would also include all of today’s German people by “Mein Kampf”? Nah, you wouldn’t, you only hate one people.

  • CriticalDragon1177

    What’s even scarier is at the time most people didn’t yet understand just how evil people like him were.

  • CriticalDragon1177

    Do you accept the fact that the Holocaust actually happened and that it wasn’t something invented by the “Jews?” Even if there is something in the Talmud that could be used to demonize non Jews, how would that justify demonizing Jews, treating them as subhumans, enslaving them, and eventually mass murdering them?

  • merc

    he looks like rahm in the hate pic

  • A_Sound_Bite

    Psalm 1414? And you point out Yep’s spelling deficiencies? :-)

  • How would you not know??

    that and being different or having a set of different beliefs has never been a good characteristic in the course of history. for some reason, guys in the majority don’t like that and will kill other guys to prove that their methodology is superior. welcome to history 101. funny how one would not know this(wonderboy).

  • Nonbilly

    Nice story bro … What would be just a snapshot of someone not smiling are – in case of Goebbels – the “eyes of hate”. Sure.

  • ThisGuy

    You can bite the extra 14, it’s on the house :P

  • Katriina Rosendahl

    They should have treated their adopted countrymen better after WW1 and not made profit on them. Their lease was considered annulled and they were asked to leave. Simple. And what comes to concentration camps, the germans themselves had LITTLE food in the end to feed their own folks, let alone their prisoners or war which of course went before foreign inrtruders.

  • Sam Norte

    Well, if I found out that the man snapping away at my face was a Jew,
    I’d scowl as well. After all, the photos may end up being used in an
    uflattering article about me called “Eyes of Hate”.

  • Titus

    Oh give me a break. He’s only just come out of the closet with this now? After 70 years? It’s Easter, and Jews can’t stand it, they want the attention.

  • CriticalDragon1177

    Its shocking that anyone liked what you had to say, and that at least two people disliked what I wrote. Why don’t you read a history book instead of making excuses for the Nazis. Oh and by the way, in case you’re so ignorant that you actually don’t know, the Nazis deliberately treated Jews and other people as subhumans. Not to mention the fact that they simply murdered them when they had no more use for them. If you read what the Nazis had to say the goal of the final solution was the elimination of the Jewish people along with other “undesirables.” Have you actually not heard of the gas chambers? Also the idea that anything could justify what actually happened is absurd. Oh and by the way, if the Germans had really been starving to death at the time, there’s no way they could have nearly conquered all of Europe. Had only one or two events happened differently, they might have occupied the UK.

  • Wonderboy

    I’m 65 years old. I don’t have too many years left. I do know that if there is reincarnation, as I suspect there is, I DO NOT want to come back to this planet. It was screwed up when I got here and it will be screwed up when I leave. I think there is more of this “behavior” waiting in the future. “American” Indians, Negros, Jews, Irish, what are they called, Daleks in India not to mention a collection of intolerant religions.

    WHO among you are truly good and righteous? WHO can say they have caused no harm?

    We are little monkey things on a ball of rock zipping around a giant Galaxy in a giant Universe and we think we are SO SPECIAL!

    Give me a break. There’s gotta be something better and more civilized.

  • Wonderboy

    That’s Dalits in India! Sorry…

  • Kelly Thornton

    Well that is the VERY question I pose to people all the time….Why are they so hated throughout history by nearly everyone they come in contact with? Makes you think doesn’t it?

  • Kelly Thornton

    Resistance and rebellion from what? Oh wait…I get it. They move in, think they have the right to be there and further more the right to run the show and the same formula is repeated. Exactly the case in Palestine right now. Good point!

  • calculator

    Oh! Wait! The Federal Reserve System, Goldman-Sachs and AIPAC.

  • PLO terror

    except that the PLO use their own citizens as targets to accomplish the goals. but yea, they’re civilized if you count their own mistreatment of their people and the crap they cause. blame everyone else for everything bad. whine whine whine

  • jebus

    jesus is a zombie, hence the resurrection of the erection. wrgaggggghhh