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An academic conference ‘Lenses over the camps’

The State Museum at Majdanek has the pleasure of inviting you to take part in an academic conference entitled ‘Lenses over the camps’ on April 9th. During the conference we will hear a dozen or so speakers who will discuss an extremely important aspect of warfare, such as aerial photography.

It is no secret that the Allies were long not interested in the reconnaissance of German concentration camps. The first photographs of these places are to a large extent coincidence. This is how the photographs of Auschwitz-Birkenau were taken. Most of the photographs concerning Majdanek and other German concentration camps were taken by Luftwaffe during reconnaissance flights over areas of great strategic importance occupied by the Soviet army.

The conference is the first academic event concerning photographs taken during reconnaissance flights over concentration and death camps and other extermination sites. The participants will learn how much research potential is hidden in aerial photographers, how extensive the material is and in which archives it is located. The photographs are rich in details, which provide a lot of important information on the topography of not only camps but also cities. The majority of photographs showing the Majdanek camp also show Lublin, the ghetto at Majdan Tatarski and other Lublin objects from the occupation period. It may be particularly interesting to correlate them with other iconographic materials presenting these sites.

The conference is addressed to historians of World War II, but also to enthusiasts of history, aviation and Lublin, as well as to those who would like to learn how to look at old photographs and see things seemingly invisible at first sight.

The event will take place in the Visitor Service Centre of the State Museum at Majdanek on April 9th at 9.30 a.m. If you would like to take part in the conference, please are register via e-mail in advance.


Applications are accepted until April 5th, 2019, only to the following e-mail address:

Registration is done by sending an e-mail with the name, surname and name of the university (department) or school or workplace of the participant. We kindly ask you to title the registration email ‘Konferencja Obiektywy nad obozami – rejestracja’ [‘Lens conference over camps – registration’]. The registration is determined by the order of applications.


9.30 a.m.

Registration of participants

10.00 a.m.

Greeting the participants by the director of the State Museum at Majdanek Tomasz Kranz

10.15 a.m. Krzysztof Tarkowski (State Museum at Majdanek)

History of aerial photography

10.45 a.m.

Sebastian Różycki, Marek Michalski (Warsaw University of Technology)

Collections of aerial photographs in the world

11.15 a.m.

Krzysztof Tarkowski (State Museum at Majdanek)

How to read aerial photos? An example of photographs from the Majdanek concentration camp

11.45 a.m.


12.10 p.m.

Wojciech Płosa (Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum)

Air reconnaissance of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp

12.30 p.m.

Marek Duda (State Museum at Majdanek)

German Luftwaffe over Lublin and the Lublin region in 1944

12.50 p.m.

Marcin Owsiński (Stutthof Museum)

Aerial photos taken at Stutthof and Gulf of Gdansk

1.10 p.m.


2.30 p.m.

Marek Michalski, Sebastian Różycki (Warsaw University of Technology)

Air reconnaissance of the Treblinka extermination camp

2.50 p.m.

Piotr Demczuk, Piotr Bartmiński, Marcin Siłuch (Marii Curie-Skłodowska Univeristy)

Aviation photographer and her influence on the mapping of the site of the former death camp in Sobibór

3.10 p.m.

Krzysztof Banach (Jewish Historical Institute)

The ghetto in Majdan Tatarski on aerial photography

3.30 p.m.

Ewa Koper (Museum and Memorial Site in Bełżec)

What can be seen when nothing is visible? Photos of the extermination camp in Bełżec

3.50 p.m.

Summary, conclusions – conference closing