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 in his first trip abroad.
On 29th September, Goebbels gave his peace speech, defending the Nazi's seizure of power. Being an extraordinary orator, he won the respect of diplomats with his speech 'An Appeal to the Nations', and the appraisal of international journalists in the subsequent press conference.
Not being aware that Eisenstaedt was a German-born Jew, 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.
However, Goebbels learned of the Jewish origin of that photographer and when Eisenstaedt approached Goebbels, the politician's expression changed completely. Instead of smiling, he scowled for the camera, dominating the photo with his fierce personality and penetrating eyes.
Eisenstaedt later shared the following thoughts about the 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.
Eisenstaedt is also known by his photograph shoot on August 14, 1945 of 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".