This is one of the few personal images included within August Sander’s monumental documentary project ‘People of the 20th Century’. It is a photograph of a death mask of Sander’s son Erich that was made by the Cologne painter and sculptor Hans Schmitz (1896–1977) on Sander’s request. Erich had been active in left-wing political movements in the early 1930s and was persecuted by the National Socialists in 1934. He died tragically in Siegburg prison in 1944, having been denied medical assistance to treat an acute infection. Sander included the photograph in the seventh and final group of images in his project, entitled ‘The Last People’. Together with two photographs from this group that show a man and woman on their deathbeds, the image testifies to Sander’s reflections on the cycle of life and death to which we are all subject.