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Photo archives Lilienthal


"At the end I want to ask you not to take my achievements for more than they are. Through the photographic pictures, where you can see me flying high above in the sky, one can get the impression that the problem is already solved. That is not at all the case. I have to admit that it will still take quite a lot of work to turn this simple gliding into a long-term human flight. The achievements so far are for human flight nothing more than the first insecure steps of a child meant to imitate the walk of men."

Otto Lilienthal (in a lecture in Nov, 1894)

One of the most important sources of our knowledge about Lilienthal's flight techniques is the great number of surviving photographs. The 145 known photographs from the period between 1891 to 1896, which were made during Lilienthal's test flights, are documents of aviation history as well as of the history of photography. 112 show Lilienthal in flight. Because of sensitive film material and high shutter speed "momentum photography", the production of "moving pictures" as a preliminary stage of cinematography became possible. By Lilienthal's request he was regularly joined by photographers in order to document the development of his flight techniques. Most of his photographers (probably all of them) are well known. In some cases, the pictures are of excellent quality. Lilienthal used his most beautiful flight photographes in his annual reports. Today almost all the negatives (glass) are missing. Large collections (Positives - for the most part albumin prints) are in the Deutsches Museum in Munich and in the Otto Lilienthal Museum. Some additional photos are in other archives.

All known photographs of the test flights are listed here. The usage of the digital information, photographs, in the form presented on this website is permitted for non-commercial purposes under following conditions:

  1. Reference the following source:
    Archives Otto-Lilienthal-Museum /
  2. Please inform us about your intended usage at the usage to following address:

A press photo for use with content relation to the Otto Lilienthal museum is available for free download here .

Photos from the photo library:
All photographs which belong to the Otto Lilienthal Museum, are available either as drum or flatbed scans (depending on the original) at a resolution greater than or equal to 1200 dpi, and can be ordered here.

The following people and institutions played a major rule in the creation of the archives:

  • Mrs. Arens-Kröger (granddaughter of Otto Lilienthal)
  • Ministry for Science, Education and Culture of the Federal State Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
  • "Nordkurier" Publishing House


Chronological Photo archives

Photos 18911891
18 photographs taken by Carl Kassner at the Windmühlenberg (windmill hill) in Derwitz/Krilow near Potsdam. The date of the first successful flight is just as unknown as the date of one of the the seemingly two photo series. Lilienthal had already shown the pictures during his speech at the "Society for Promoting Aviation" on the 16th of November. Kassner was a meteorologist at the Prussian Meteorological Institute. The members of that institute played an important role in the society. Kassner became a member in 1892 as well.


Photos 18921892
8 photographs, which were probably taken on the 7th of August in Südende near Berlin, are preserved. The photographs show the new apparatus from both sides with wings taut.


Photos 18931893
From 1893, two series of photographs are known: 18 pictures taken by Ottomar Anschütz (and one by Kistenmacher) at the flight station "Maihöhe" in Steglitz (today, part of Berlin), and 8 photographs taken by Alex Krajewsky in the "Rhinow Hills" (near the villages Stölln and Rhinow in Brandenburg).


Photos 18941894
On the 16th of August and on the 14th of September Anschütz took photographs at Lilienthal's "flight hill". Krajewsky also made photographs at this location. Besides the Normal Apparatus, the small Wing-flapping Machine is also shown. Some photographs which are not exactly marked can be presumably assigned to this three series.


Photos 18951895
55 preserved photographic prints are classified as dating from the year 1895. Richard Neuhauss took photographs of the normal apparatus, of both biplanes and of the "Vorflügelapparat" (glider with wing tip controller) on the 29th of May, on the 29th of June and on the 7th and 19th of October. Besides these, photographs taken by Regis, Krajewsky and Preobrashenski also exist. All photographs were made at the "Flying-Hill" in Lichterfelde.


Photos 18961896
Presumably only three preserved photographs taken by the American Robert W. Wood and two photographs of the crashed glider can be classified as dating from the year 1896. Wood took some photographs at the "Gollenberg" (hill) near Stölln on the 2nd of August, one week before Lilienthal's crash. The photographs of the crashed glider were taken in the yard of Lilienthal's engineering works.


Photos 1896additional selected photographs