I've seen it before, of course; it's quite well-known, a photograph of Nazi propaganda minister Josef Goebbels at a League of Nations summit in 1933 by the famed Alfred Eisenstaedt. This isn't even a particularly good reproduction: it's small and low-definition, which means you miss out on the terrifying sunken lines beneath Goebbels' eyes and the impossible, palpably heavy blackness of his suit. But you can still very much get the idea.
And what's the idea?
Well, despite its poetic prettiness (I even succumbed to it in that goofball entry), I've never liked the notion that evil has a face, that books can be judged by their cover, that a look that can make you run screaming should make you run screaming. Appearances deceive, surface is not depth, and first guesses are not always best guesses. But sometimes...
Just look at him. Look at the face of raw, unalloyed, pure, calculated, deliberate hatred. See how his hands grip the edges of his chair like gnarled, shattered crab-claws, as if holding him in place, as if, were he to relax his clutch for even a moment, he'd spring forward, up, and out, thrashing, flailing, destroying. Look at the blunt, terrible blackness of him, a living shroud, a real thing that no costumer has ever been able to match on film, how he makes of a simple tasteful suit a cloak of death. Look at his serpentine smile, so forced and tight that the barely upturned V of his mouth is instantly recognizable as a sneer of contempt no matter how he tries to disguise it (and he barely tries). And look, just look at those eyes. thaitea thinks in the original photo, the photographer deliberately darkened the area under his eyes to enhance the sinister reptilian cast; maybe it's true. But even without the venomous half-circled pouches of flesh below, the eyes radiate hate. Behind them churns a brain from another world, a thing so incomprehensible to normal men that Mel Brooks has long obsessed over producing a film set entirely inside Goebbels' mind, a surrealist nightmare that would dwarf his work on The Elephant Man. The eyes are filled with poison; they want to stop the heart of the insolent Jew who dared interrupt his important work for the Reich.
Goebbels' toady, the pornographer of hate Alfred Rosenberg, was infamous for the gross caricatures of Jews he placed in all his publications, vile cartoons that attempted to portray the Jew as a slobbering, sex-crazed subhuman consumed by greed and bloodlust. But Rosenberg's propaganda was a crude failure that even devoted Nazis found embarrassing and juvenile. Sometimes evil does have a face; and for all of Rosenberg's attempts to capture it, all he needed to do was take a simple candid photograph of his master.