After practicing photography during his military service, August Sander opens his own studio in the early 1900s in Cologne. Close to the avant-garde movements, he soon decides to go on a major documentary observation of his country: Menschen des 20. Jahrhunderts (Men of the 20th Century). Although his images seem cold and detached, they nonetheless accurately depict what the faces of Germany are. He thus illustrates the buoyant time of his country from the disappearance of the Weimar Republic to the advent of National Socialism, capturing workers, aristocrats, artists, soldiers and farmers as well as gypsies, vagabonds and other society marginals - ‘In photography, there are no shadows, one cannot light’. It is because he not only emphasizes the wealthy but also the modest and the non-conformist that August Sander is blacklisted by the Nazis that detest his true social attention far from their mystified racial glorification. He thus brings an end to his project in 1933 and will finally completely abandon it in the late 1940s in the ruins of World War II. With his individual portraits, the German photographer managed to incarnate a revealing and sometimes troubling analysis of his era, a crucial take on memory that will later influence Walker Evans and Edward Steichen’s Family of Man, in 1955.