Forgotten Nazi Forced Labour Camps: Arbeitslager Riese (Lower Silesia, SE Poland) and the Use of Archival Aerial Photography and Contemporary LiDAR and Ground Truth Data to Identify and Delineate Camp Areas

Aleksander Kamola , Sebastian Różycki , Paweł Bylina , Piotr Lewandowski , Adam Burakowski


The “Riese” project was a huge construction project initiated by German Nazi authorities, which was located in the northeast of the Sowie Mountains (Ger. Eulengebirge) in southwestern Poland. Construction of the “Riese” complex took place in 1943–1945 but was left unfinished. Due to the lack of reliable sources, the exact intended function of the Riese complex is still unknown. The construction was carried out by prisoners, mostly Jews, from the main nearby concentration camps, KL Gross-Rosen and KL Auschwitz-Birkenau. Thanks to the discovery in the National Archives (NARA, USA) of a valuable series of German aerial photographs taken in February 1945, insight into the location of labour camps was obtained. These photographs, combined with LiDAR data from the Head Office of Geodesy and Cartography (Warsaw, Poland), allowed for the effective identification and field inspection of the camps’ remains. The location and delimitation of the selected labour camps were confirmed by an analysis of the 1945 aerial photograph combined with LiDAR data. These results were supported by field inspection as well as archival testimonies of witnesses. The field inspection of the construction remains indicated intentionally faulty construction works, which deliberately reduced the durability of the buildings and made them easy to demolish. The authors believe that it is urgent to continue the research and share the results with both the scientific community and the local community. The authors also want to emphasize that this less-known aspect of Holocaust history is gradually disappearing in social and institutional memory and is losing to the commercial mythologization of the Riese object.
Author Aleksander Kamola
Aleksander Kamola,,
, Sebastian Różycki (FGC / DPTSIS)
Sebastian Różycki,,
- Department of Photogrammetry, Teledetection and Spatial Information Systems
, Paweł Bylina (FGC / CSMES)
Paweł Bylina,,
- Chair of Spatial Management and Environmental Science
, Piotr Lewandowski
Piotr Lewandowski,,
, Adam Burakowski
Adam Burakowski,,
Journal seriesRemote Sensing, ISSN 2072-4292
Issue year2020
Publication size in sheets1
Keywords in Englishconcentration and labour camps; taboo heritage; archival aerial photography; LiDAR; GIS
ASJC Classification1900 General Earth and Planetary Sciences
Internal identifier16/2020
Languageen angielski
Score (nominal)100
Score sourcejournalList
ScoreMinisterial score = 100.0, 29-07-2020, ArticleFromJournal
Publication indicators Scopus Citations = 0; WoS Citations = 0; Scopus SNIP (Source Normalised Impact per Paper): 2017 = 1.559; WoS Impact Factor: 2018 = 4.118 (2) - 2018=4.74 (5)
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