An elderly Jewish man is photographed on the sidewalk of the Warsaw Ghetto. Construction of the ghetto wall began on 1 April 1940. It was officially established on 16 October 1940. All Jews in the Polish capital and its suburbs were then rounded up and herded into the Ghetto. At this time, the population in the Ghetto was estimated to be 400,000 people, about 30% of the population of Warsaw; however, the size of the Ghetto was about 2.4% of the size of Warsaw. During the next year and a half, thousands more Polish Jews as well as some Romani people (Gypsies) from smaller cities and the countryside were brought into the Ghetto. The Germans closed the Warsaw Ghetto to the outside world on 16 November 1940. The wall was typically 3 m (9.8 ft) high and topped with barbed wire. Escapees could be shot on sight. As conditions worsened with overcrowding, diseases and starvation became commonplace.
In the summer of 1941, Willy Georg, a German Wehrmacht Heer soldier who served as a radio operator and was stationed in Warsaw was issued a day pass by one of his officers. Georg was an accomplished photographer and supplemented his income by taking pictures of his fellow soldiers with his Leica camera. Georg entered the ghetto and went about photographing the daily lives of the Jewish population. He shot four rolls of film and began to shoot a fifth when he was stopped by a detachment of German police. Failing to check his pockets for finished rolls of film, the police confiscated only the film in his camera before escorting him out of the ghetto. Georg developed the four rolls of film himself at a lab in Warsaw and sent them home to his wife in Münster. He kept the existence of these photographs to himself for the next fifty years. In the late 1980s he met Rafael Scharf, a Polish Jew originally from Kraków. Georg gave Scharf his Warsaw Ghetto photographs and in 1993, with Georg’s consent, Scharf then published a selection of these photographs in a book titled In the Warsaw Ghetto: Summer 1941.