Lufthansa is one of the oldest and most important airlines still in business.
The company was founded as Deutsche Luft Hansa AG on 6 January 1926 when the Norddeutsche Lloyd, Junkers Luftverkehr AG and Deutsche Luft Hansa fused to become one company. This was initiated by the German government, because they were hoping to reduce the subvention they were paying to these indebted companies due to the ban on building found in the Treaty of Versailles.
In December 1917 Hapag, Luftschiffbau Zeppelin and AEG founded the Deutsche Luft-Reederei (DLR) which operated their first scheduled flight in February 1919. In 1923 DLR fused with several other new companies to be the Deutsche Aero Lloyd.
The Norddeutsche Lloyd merged with several other companies like Albatros GmbH, Junkers Flugzeugwerke AG and Ostdeutsche Landwerkstätten to Lloyd Ostflug GmbH which soon became Junker-Luftverkehr AG.
(Companies that fused in order to form the Luft Hansa in 1926)
When Luft Hansa AG was founded in 1926 they owned 162 aircraft, most of which used to belong to the army during World
War I. Berlin-Tempelhof was the most important airport. The first scheduled flight started from there to Halle, Erfurt,
Stuttgart and Zurich on 6 April 1926, which also means that this was the first international route.
By they summer they already operated on a wide spreading network, connecting Germany and neighbour countries. At the same time Luft Hansa started trials with flying at night which then lead to them moving post and cargo at night from May onwards.
This is not the Lufthansa we know today, but it laid the foundation for everything to follow. The Luft Hansa AG invented the logo of a yellow crane in front of a darf blue background and flag which still represent Lufthansa today. There have been slight changes to the colours and design, but overall the recognition value is still intact and the same colours are still being used. This shows how the company tried to stick to certain values though the years and is still up to date.
(Changing design: logos from Luft Hansa in1927, Lufthansa in 1954 and an updated version from 1964)
Post War Changes
During World War II most of Luft Hansa’s fleet belonged to the German Wehrmacht, enabling the government to have control over the company and its actions. There is now evidence that Luft Hansa was also involved in forced labour, suppressing minorities and exploiting them. They were in charge of repairing damaged aircraft. Being under the government’s thumb they could only join in on what all authorities were involved in. Over the course of the war Luft Hansa was forced to close down more and more international routes due to arousing conflicts between the countries.
Luft Hansa was also taking part in the “Rosinenbomber”, throwing things like chocolate, chewing gum and probably raisins out of most aircraft over East Berlin, before landing in West Berlin.
(“Tante Ju” a Ju 20 used as a “Rosinenbomber”)
After the war the company tried to take up a normal civil schedule again but couldn’t because of the victorious nations did not allow the manufacturing or use of any aircraft. The Wirtschaftswunder and the Cold War soon enabled German companies to get back to aviation. Luft Hansa offered a good service for little money which lead to Luft Hansa being back on the market.
In 1953 the government started the Aktiengesellschaft für Luftverkehrsbedarf, later known as LUFTAG, consisting of several aviation companies. On 6 August 1954 the heads of LUFTAG, changed its name to Deutsche Lufthansa AG, with a seed capital of 50 mio DM. Only a month later, on 17 September, LUFTAG bought the rights off the old Luft Hansa AG including the logo and flag. By the end of 1954 the new founded Lufthansa AG already employed a little fewer than 600 people.
Lufthansa was able to start a trial schedule on 1 March 1955 which lead to a fixed schedule on 1 April operating within