In his monumental photographic project ‘People of the 20th Century’, August Sander attempted to chronicle social worlds in radical transformation in his native Germany. More than 500 photographs are organised into seven groups that represent the social structures and employment divisions of the day. This portrait is from the portfolio entitled ‘Types and Figures of the City’, which depicts figures on the fringes of society, within the sixth group, ‘The City’. Its title, ‘Disabled Ex-Serviceman’, indicates that the subject is one of the many German soldiers crippled in service in World War I who were abandoned by the state to a life of abject poverty after their return home. The image is an example of the way in which Sander sought to use photography as a weapon for social and political reform by calling attention to issues of social injustice and exclusion.