Franz von Papen listening to a Violin Recital, Berlin
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Behold the (momentarily placid) mean mug of one of the most influential players of the Third Reich.

There’s no reflection in the mirror behind him, so that’s either gotta be about the angle, or more likely, means he’s a vampire.

Franz von Papen had served as Chancellor of Germany shortly prior to WWII, a position which allowed him to crumble the Weimar Republic and introduce extreme conservative policy in its place. But his days as chancellor didn’t last long. He was ousted by Kurt von Schleicher (who, ironically, had helped put him in office in the first place). Seeking revenge on Schleicher, Papen allied himself with Adolf Hitler and advocated for Hitler’s appointment as chancellor. There was definitely something in it for Papen, since Hitler made him Vice Chancellor once in power. Probably because they had matching mustaches and thought it would be cute.

Alfred Eisenstaedt was Jewish, yet he covered a good deal of the Nazis’ rise to power while working for the Associated Press. This photo was taken in 1934, a year before Eisenstaedt fled Germany for the US (with just a bit of time to spare before WWII commenced in 1939). It must have taken a lot of nerve to photograph scary scoundrels like Papen, Hitler and Joseph Goebbels (Hitler’s propaganda minister) as they steadily tightened their fearsome grip on Germany.

Eisenstaedt had a knack for capturing formidable characters in candid, natural states. Here, Papen sits in a relatable reverie, listening intently to a music as if alone in the room. One might almost wish to join him--if he weren’t, you know, a perpetrator of genocide.



  1. The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. “Franz von Papen, German Statesman.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Accessed August 27, 2017.
  2. Zhang, Michael. “‘Eyes of Hate’ Captured in Portrait of Nazi Politician by Jewish Photographer.” PetaPixel. March 31, 2013. Accessed August 27, 2017.
  3. Levy, Claudia. “Alfred Eisenstaedt, 96, Dies.” The Washington Post. August 25, 1995. Accessed August 27, 2017.