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Deutsche Lufthansa 1952-1963 (East Germany)

Deutsche Lufthansa der DDR GmbH

Last modified: 2012-03-31 by german editorial team
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[Deutsche Lufthansa der DDR GmbH 1952-1963 (East Germany)] 3:5
by Jens Pattke
Flag adopted 1952, abandoned 1963

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With the division of Germany, the Deutsche Lufthansa Sowjetischer AG was established in 1954 in the Soviet occupation zone, assuming responsibility over civil air traffic in the Soviet zone. In 1955, the Sowjetischer AG ('Soviet plc') was handed over to the East German state. The airline then assumed the official name Deutsche Lufthansa der DDR GmbH ('German Lufthansa of the GDR Ltd'). In 1952, this East German Lufthansa adopted a flag. It was blue with three stripes in the German colors in the middle and, on its centre, the emblem of the airline, a yellow crane on a blue disc, doubly fimbriated yellow. The crane followed the same design as the 1926 Lufthansa one.

Jens Pattke, 4 April 2001

The Deutsche Lufthansa GmbH was founded in 1952 in the German Democratic Republic. This airline was 100% property of the Soviet occupation government. The aim was to claim to be the legal successors, and hence the ownership, of the former Deutsche Lufthansa AG created in 1926. Thus a flag for the East German Lufthansa was already adopted in 1952, even though at that time the company had not a single airplane.

However, the Deutsche Lufthansa AG was refounded in 1953 in the three western occupation zones (West Germany). This airline was now a state-owned company of the Federal Republic of Germany. The western Allies thus prevented the legal takeover of the former (1926-1945) Lufthansa by the East German authorities.

Since the Soviet Union did not receive the assets of the former Lufthansa, it had to rent three Soviet airplanes to the German Democratic Republic, so that the Deutsche Lufthansa GmbH der DDR could take over air traffic in 1954. This was the real foundation of the East German airline, even though the company (and its flag) existed since 1952.

The East German Lufthansa was handed over in 1953 by the Soviets to the East German state, to become a state-owned company. Only then did it become a really (East) German airline. Interflug was founded in 1958 as a second East German airline to operate charter flights, while the Deutsche Lufthansa GmbH der DDR kept operating the regular flights.

Legal litigation started in Bern in 1962 between East and West Germany over the trade mark Lufthansa. The court gave this name to the Federal Republic of Germany which implied that the East German airline had to change its name. This is how Interflug assumed also the regular flights and the East German Lufthansa ceased to exist. The Deutsche Lufthansa GmbH der DDR was dismantled in 1963 and its flag was abandoned.

Jens Pattke, translated by Santiago Dotor, 19 April 2002