Deutsche Luft Hansa
|Hubs||Berlin Tempelhof Airport|
Deutsche Luft Hansa A.G. (from 1933 styled as Deutsche Lufthansa and also known as Luft Hansa, Lufthansa, or DLH) was a German airline, serving as flag carrier of the country during the later years of the Weimar Republic and throughout the Third Reich.
Even though Deutsche Luft Hansa was the forerunner of modern German airline Lufthansa (founded in 1953), there is no legal connection between the two.
Deutsche Luft Hansa was founded on 6 January 1926 in Berlin. The name of the company was a composite of "Deutsche Luft" ("German Air" in German), and "Hansa" (after the Hanseatic League, a powerful medieval trading group). The airline was created by a merger between Deutscher Aero Lloyd (an airline formed in 1923 as a co-operation between the shipping companies Norddeutscher Lloyd and Hamburg America Line) and Junkers Luftverkehr, the in-house airline of Junkers. This action was taken due to an initiative of the German government which hoped to reduce the amount of financial support it provided to the two partly state-owned airlines, which were both plagued by heavy debts at that time.
The foundation of the airline coincided with the lifting of restrictions on commercial air operations imposed on Germany by the Treaty of Versailles. This allowed the route network to be quickly expanded to cover major European cities. The initial fleet consisted of 162 aircraft, nearly all of them outdated World War I types, and the company had 1,527 staff. The most important airfield for DLH was Berlin Tempelhof. From there a Fokker F.II took off on 6 April 1926 for the first scheduled flight to Zürich via Halle, Erfurt and Stuttgart. In the same year, Deutsche Luft Hansa acquired a stake in Deruluft, a joint German-Soviet airline, and launched non-stop flights from Berlin to Moscow, which was then regarded as an exceptionally long distance. Shortly after that flights to Paris were commenced. Deutsche Luft Hansa was one of the first airlines to operate night flights, the first of which connected Berlin with Königsberg using Junkers G 24 aircraft. This route proved so successful that the night train connection was discontinued some years later. During its first year, the airline operated more than six million flight kilometres, transporting a total of 56,268 passengers and 560 tons of freight and mail.
Over the following years, the domestic network grew to cover all the important cities and towns of Germany. More international routes were added through co-operation agreements. With the newly founded Iberia in Spain its the longest scheduled route was 2,100 kilometres from Berlin to Madrid (though with several stopovers). The establishment of Syndicato Condor in Brazil served the airline's interests in South America where there were important German minorities at that time. The first East-West crossing of the Atlantic Ocean (from Baldonnel Aerodrome in Ireland to Greenly Island, Canada) was made by the Luft Hansa pilots Hermann Köhl and Ehrenfried Günther Freiherr von Hünefeld and the Irish pilot James Fitzmaurice using the Junkers W 33 aircraft Bremen in April 1928. The airline launched scheduled multi-leg flights to Tokyo. A Heinkel HE 12 aircraft was launched (by catapult) off the NDL liner Bremen during her maiden voyage crossing the Atlantic in 1929, shortening the mail delivery time between Europe and North America.
Even though the early years of the decade saw a difficult financial situation due to the Great Depression, Deutsche Luft Hansa further expanded its international route network in South America, and launched scheduled flights from Germany to the Middle East. Politically, the company leaders were linked to the rising Nazi Party; an aircraft was made available to Adolf Hitler for his campaign for the 1932 presidential election free of any charge. Erhard Milch, who had served as head of the airline since 1926, became a high-ranking official at the Aviation Ministry when Hitler came to power in 1933.
A key interest of Deutsche Luft Hansa at that time was the reduction of mail delivery times. In 1930, the Eurasia Corporation was established as a joint-venture with the Chinese transport ministry, granting Luft Hansa a monopoly position for mail transport between Germany and China, as well as access to the Chinese market. To this end, the Shanghai-Nanjing-Beijing route was launched in the following year using Junkers W 34 specially deployed there. A record was set in 1930 when the mail route from Vienna to Istanbul (with stopovers in Budapest, Belgrad and Sofia) was completed in only 24 hours. By comparison, the first transatlantic passenger flight by the airline (from Warnemünde to New York City using a Dornier Wal flying boat) took roughly one week.
After several years of testing, the first scheduled postal route between Europe and South America was inaugurated in 1934. For this purpose, catapult-launched Wal flying boats were used. These were replaced by the Dornier Do 18 in 1936 making operations in non-visual conditions possible. The European network saw the introduction of the Junkers G.38 (at that time the largest passenger aircraft in the world) on the Berlin-London route via Amsterdam, as well as the Junkers Ju 52/3m and Heinkel He 70, which allowed for faster air travel. This was promoted by so-called "Blitz Services" (German: Blitzstrecken) between Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne and Frankfurt. In 1935, the first aircraft not manufactured in Germany were introduced into the Luft Hansa fleet: two Boeing 247s and one Douglas DC-2.
The grip on the domestic South American markets was further tightened in 1937, when the Sociedad Ecuatoriana de Transportes Aéreos (SEDTA) and Lufthansa Perú were founded as Luft Hansa co-operations in Ecuador and Peru respectively, operating Junkers W 34 aircraft. The Middle Eastern network was expanded with the launch of the Berlin-Baghdad-Tehran route in the same year. In 1938 the Focke-Wulf Fw 200 long range aircraft was introduced making it possible to fly non-stop between Berlin and New York and from Berlin to Tokyo with only one intermediate stopover. This last year prior to the outbreak of World War II turned out to be the most successful one in the history of the airline, with 19.3 million flight kilometres on the scheduled European routes and a total of 254,713 passengers and 5,288 tons of mail transported.
On 1 April 1939, Deutsche Luft Hansa launched scheduled transatlantic flights between Port Natal, South Africa and Santiago de Chile using Fw 200 aircraft, a route which had previously been operated by Syndicato Condor. With Bangkok, Hanoi and Taipeh, further Asian destinations were added to the route network.
During the 1930s, Luft Hansa aircraft had also been deployed on a number of experimental and survey missions, most notably for developing the best airborne crossing of the South Atlantic, and during the Third German Antarctica Expedition in 1938-39, when two Dornier Wal aircraft performed a photographic survey of 350,000 square kilometres, an area which became known as New Swabia.
During World War II
With the outbreak of the war on 1 September 1939 all civilian flight operation of Luft Hansa came to an end, and the aircraft fleet came under command of the Luftwaffe, along with most staff as well as maintenance and production facilities. There were still scheduled passenger flights within Germany and to occupied or neutral countries, but bookings were restricted and served the demands of the warfare. During the later years of the war, most passenger aircraft were converted to military freighters.
The Luft Hansa co-operations in foreign countries were gradually dismantled: Deruluft ceased to exist in March 1940, and by November of that year, the Eurasia Corporation had to be shut down following an intervention by the Chinese government. Syndicato Condor was nationalized and renamed Cruzeiro do Sul in 1943, in an attempt to erase its German roots.
The last scheduled flight of Deutsche Luft Hansa from Berlin to Munich took place on 21 April 1945, but the aircraft crashed shortly before the planned arrival. Another (non-scheduled) flight was performed the next day, from Berlin to Warnemünde, which marked the end of flight operations. Following the surrender of Germany and the ensuing Allied occupation of Germany, all aircraft in the country were seized and Deutsche Luft Hansa was dissolved. The remaining assets were liquidated on 1 January 1951.
Lufthansa, today's German flag carrier, acquired the name and logo of the 1926-1945 airline upon its foundation in 1953 and considers the former airline to be part of its history, even though there is no legal link between the two companies. Between 1955 and 1963, the newly founded East German national airline operated under the same name but, having lost a lawsuit with the West German company, it was liquidated and replaced by Interflug.
European passenger flights
From 1926 until the outbreak of World War II in 1939, Deutsche Luft Hansa built up an extensive network centred on its base at Berlin Tempelhof Airport covering many German cities and towns , as well as the major European cities. There were early interline agreements which granted Luft Hansa passengers access to the flight network of leading European airlines of that time and vice versa. The agreements were with air lines including Aerotransport, Ad Astra Aero, Adria Aerolloyd, Aero Oy, Air Union, Balair, CIDNA, CSA, DDL, Imperial Airways, KLM, Lignes Aeriennes Latécoère, LOT, ÖLAG, Malert, SABENA, SANA, SGTA, and Ukrvozdukhput, as well as Syndicato Condor from Brazil and SCADTA from Colombia.
During World War II
Due to the war and the de facto end of commercial air transport in Germany, Luft Hansa operated scheduled passenger flights only on some trunk domestic trunk routes and international services on a limited number of routes to occupied or Axis-affiliated countries. These routes deteriorated during the war as Germany came closer to defeat.
As of 1940/41, the following destinations were served. At that time, interline agreements were in force with Iberia, Aeroflot, Malert, LARES (Romania), Aero Oy (Finland), DDL (occupied Denmark), ABA (Sweden), and CSA (occupied Czechoslovakia).
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (June 2011)|
Over the years of its existence, Deutsche Luft Hansa operated the following aircraft types:
|Arado V I||1929||1929||1 only, cargo, lost in crash|
|Blohm & Voss Ha 139||1938||1940||cargo floatplane|
|Blohm & Voss BV 142||1939||1940||cargo|
|Dornier Do 18||1937||1939||cargo flying boat|
|Dornier Do R||1928||1932||flying boat|
|Dornier Komet III||1926|
|Dornier Wal||1926||1940||cargo flying boat|
|Focke-Wulf A 32||1934||from NOBA|
|Focke-Wulf A 33||1937||1 only|
|Focke-Wulf A 38|
|Focke-Wulf Fw 200||1938||1945|
|Heinkel He 12||1929||cargo|
|Heinkel He 58||1930||cargo|
|Heinkel He 70||1934||1938||cargo|
|Heinkel He 116||1938||cargo|
|Junkers G 24||1926||1938|
|Junkers G 31||1928||1936||8 aircraft|
|Junkers G.38||1931||2 only, one written off after crash in 1936.|
|Junkers Ju 46||1933||1939||cargo|
|Junkers Ju 52||1932||1945|
|Junkers Ju 60||1934||1940|
|Junkers Ju 90||1938||1940|
|Rohrbach Ro VIII||1931|
|Udet U-11||1926||1929||1 only|
Accidents and incidents
- On 22 April 1927, a Deutsche Luft Hansa Fokker FG-3 (registered D-729) crashed at Floh due to engine failure, killing the pilot and passenger.
- On 27 July 1927, a Deutsche Luft Hansa Junkers F.13 (registered D-206) crashed at Amoneburg after attempting a forced landing due to engine failure, killing all five on board.
- On 23 September 1927, a Deutsche Luft Hansa Dornier Merkur (registered D-585) crashed at Schleiz en route to Munich from Berlin after a wing separated in flight, killing all six on board.
- On 26 May 1928, a Deutsche Luft Hansa Junkers F.13 (registered D-583) crashed at Radevormwald due to pilot error, killing three of five on board.
- On 26 September 1928, a Deutsche Luft Hansa Fokker FG-3 (registered D-180) crashed at Heroldbach due to engine failure, killing all three on board.
- On 1 December 1928, a Deutsche Luft Hansa Junkers G 31 (registered D-1473, named Rhineland) crashed at Letzlingen in a snowstorm, killing three of four on board, including pilot Heinrich Doerr.
- On 6 November 1929, a Deutsche Luft Hansa Junkers G 31 (registration D-903, named Oberschlesien) en route from Croydon to Schipol crashed in thick fog at Godstone, Surrey, United Kingdom, resulting in the deaths of seven of the eight people on board.
- On 19 December 1929, a Deutsche Luft Hansa Arado V I (registered D-1594, named Tenerife) force-landed 40 mi from Berlin, killing two of three on board.
- On 7 July 1930, a Deutsche Luft Hansa Dornier Wal (registered D-864) force-landed in a storm in the Atlantic off Bornholm, Denmark en route from Stettin to Norway due to engine failure; the aircraft was capsized by a wave while under tow three hours later; five of eight on board died.
- On 6 October 1930, a Deutsche Luft Hansa Messerschmitt M 20 (registered D-1930) struck a hill near Dresden en route to Vienna from Berlin, killing all eight on board.
- On 14 April 1931, a Deutsche Luft Hansa Messerschmitt M 20 (registered D-1928) broke apart in mid-air and crashed near Letschen, killing two of three crew; all seven passengers survived.
- On 13 June 1931, a Deutsche Luft Hansa Dornier Merkur (registered D-1455) crashed at Saarbrucken after a loss of control caused by engine failure, killing all four on board.
- On 29 July 1932, a Deutsche Luft Hansa Junkers Ju 52 (registration D-2201, named Oswald Boelke) collided in mid-air over Munich with a DVS Udet U 12a (registration D-1296).
- On 29 October 1932, a Deutsche Luft Hansa Junkers W33 (registered D-2017, named Marmara) was on a freight flight from Croydon Airport to Cologne when it crashed off the Kent coast.
- On 2 November 1932, a Deutsche Luft Hansa Junkers F.13 (registration D-724) crashed in mountainous terrain near Echterpfuhl after a wing separated, killing all five on board.
- On 11 December 1933, a Deutsche Luft Hansa Focke-Wulf A 17 (registration D-1403) crashed on landing at Hamburg after striking an obstacle, killing six of ten on board.
- On 24 December 1935, a Deutsche Luft Hansa Heinkel He 70 (registration D-UVOR) crashed at Breslau due to pilot error, killing all three on board.
- On 15 February 1936, a Deutsche Luft Hansa Dornier Wal (registered D-ADYS) disappeared over the South Atlantic with four on board.
- On 13 June 1936, a Deutsche Luft Hansa Junkers Ju 160 (registered D-UPYM) crashed at Hannover due to engine failure, killing one of six on board.
- On 26 July 1936, a Deutsche Luft Hansa Junkers G.38 (registered D-AZUR, formerly D-2000) crashed at Dessau due to mechanical failure during a test flight; the pilot survived, but the aircraft was written off.
- On 1 November 1936, a Deutsche Luft Hansa Junkers Ju 52 (registered D-APOO, named Heinrich Kroll) crashed into mountains near Tabarz while en route to Erfurt from Frankfurt, killing 11 of 15 on board.
- On 17 November 1936, a Deutsche Luft Hansa Junkers Ju 52 (registered D-ASUI, named Hans Berr) crashed into a mountain near Lauf an der Pegnitz while on approach to Nurnburg-Marienburg Airport on a Leipzig-Marienburg passenger service, killing four of 16 on board. The pilot became disorientated in heavy snow and poor visibility. 
- On 20 May 1937, a Deutsche Luft Hansa Heinkel He 70 (registered D-UXUV) crashed on takeoff from Stuttgart, killing all four on board.
- On 26 November 1937, a Deutsche Luft Hansa Junkers Ju 52 (registered D-AGAV, named Emil Schäfer) crashed in fog into a hangar on takeoff at Croydon Airport, killing all three on board.
- On 4 January 1938, a Deutsche Luft Hansa Junkers Ju 52 (registered D-ABUR, named Charles Haar) crashed in a snowstorm at Frankfurt en route from Milan due to wing icing, killing all six on board.
- On 1 October 1938, a Deutsche Luft Hansa Junkers Ju 52 (registered D-AVAB) crashed into a mountain near Graubünden en route to Milan from Frankfurt, killing all 13 on board. A postal bag from the aircraft was found in a glacier in 1952.
- On 26 November 1938, a Deutsche Luft Hansa Junkers Ju 90 (registered D-AIVI, named Pruessen) struck a palm tree and crashed at Bathurst (now Banjul), Gambia after double engine failure during take-off while on a tropical trial flight, killing 12 of 15 on board.
- On 9 August 1940, a Deutsche Luft Hansa Douglas DC-2 (registered D-AIAV) crashed near Lämershagen en route to Hannover due to pilot error, killing 2 of 13 on board.
- On 8 November 1940, a Deutsche Luft Hansa Junkers Ju 90 (registered D-AVMF, named Brandenburg) crashed at Schönteichen en route to Budapest from Berlin due to tail icing, killing all 6 crew and 23 passengers on board.
- On 1 March 1941, a Deutsche Luft Hansa Junkers Ju 52 floatplane (registered D-AQUB) crashed on landing in Hommelvik Bay off Trondheim due to waves and later sank. Three of 12 on board drowned.
- On 15 January 1944, a Deutsche Luft Hansa Junkers Ju 52 (registered D-ADQW, named Harry Rother) crashed at Belgrade, Serbia due to pilot error, killing all five on board.
- On 21 February 1944, a Deutsche Luft Hansa Junkers Ju 52 (registered D-AWAS, named Joachim Blankenburg) went missing off Eretria, Greece with 16 on board; the wreckage was never found.
- On 17 April 1944, a Deutsche Luft Hansa Junkers Ju 52 (registration D-AOCA) was shot down during an Allied fighter sweep and crashed near Belgrade, killing three of five on board. The aircraft was one of two that were shot down.
- On 21 April 1944, a Deutsche Luft Hansa Douglas DC-3 (registration D-AAIG) crashed near Fredrikstad, Norway after a signal flare started a fire on board, killing nine of 20 on board.
- On 9 August 1944, a Deutsche Luft Hansa Junkers Ju 90 (registration D-AURE, named Bayern) burned out on the ground at Stuttgart during an Allied bombing raid, there were no casualties as no one was on board.
- On 2 September 1944, a Deutsche Luft Hansa Junkers Ju 52 (registration D-AUAW, named Gerhard Amann) was shot down over Belgrade, killing all five on board.
- During the war, on 27 September 1944 at 20:30 local time, a Deutsche Luft Hansa Focke-Wulf Fw 200 (registered D-AMHL) was shot down by a Bristol Beaufighter near Dijon. The aircraft had been on a scheduled passenger flight from Stuttgart to Barcelona with five passengers and four crew members on board, all of which were killed.
- On 16 October 1944, Deutsche Luft Hansa Flight 7, a Junkers Ju 52 (registered D-ADQU, named Hermann Stache), crashed into a mountain in Flatdal, Seljord, Norway in poor visibility conditions, killing all 15 people on board, including discharged Frontkämpfer Kjell Marthinsen, son of Nazi police general Karl Marthinsen.
- On 17 October 1944, a Deutsche Luft Hansa Junkers Ju 52 (registration D-ASHE, named Friedrich Dahmen) was attacked by British fighters and force-landed at Komitat Komorn, Hungary, killing one of nine on board.
- On 29 November 1944 at 10:25 local time, a Deutsche Luft Hansa Focke-Wulf Fw 200 (registered D-ARHW) was accidentally shot down by a German "patrol boat" off the Swedish coast during a flight from Berlin to Stockholm, killing the six passengers and four crew members on board.
- On 20 April 1945, during the Battle of Berlin, a Deutsche Luft Hansa Junkers Ju 52 (registered D-ANAJ) was shot down by Soviet fighters while on a Berlin-Munich-Prague evacuation flight, killing 3 crew and 15 passengers on board, including film director Hans Steinhoff. Two passengers survived.
- On 21 April 1945, during the Battle of Berlin, a Deutsche Luft Hansa Focke-Wulf Fw 200 (registered D-ASHH, Hessen) escaped from Berlin for a flight to Munich, but crashed near Obertraubling in Bavaria, killing the sixteen passengers and five crew members. The loss was the worst accident involving an aircraft of that type and also for the airline.
- Lufthansa Chronicle
- "First Tranatlantic air line", Popular Science, February 1933
- "Sedta Cuts Rates". Time Magazine. January 27, 1941. Retrieved 2007-09-14.
- Deutsche Luft hansa 1927 timetable at timetableimages.com
- Deutsche Luft Hansa 1932 timetable at timetableimages.com
- Accident description for D-1473 at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 29 March 2013.
- "Luft Hansa disaster", Flight, 15 November 1929
- Accident description for D-2201 at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 29 March 2013.
- "Airport News - Croydon". Flight (3 November 1932): p1027.
- Accident description for D-AZUR at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 13 December 2012.
- Accident description for D-APOO at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 13 December 2012.
- Accident description for D-ASUI at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 13 December 2012.
- Accident description for D-AGAV at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 13 December 2012.
- Accident description for D-ABUR at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 29 March 2013.
- Accident description for D-AVAB at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 13 December 2012.
- Accident description for D-AIVI at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 13 December 2012.
- Accident description for D-AIAV at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 13 December 2012.
- Accident description for D-AVMF at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 13 December 2012.
- Accident description for D-AQUB at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 13 December 2012.
- Accident description for D-ADQW at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 29 March 2013.
- Accident description for D-AWAS at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 13 December 2012.
- Accident description for D-AURE at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 29 March 2013.
- Accident description for D-AUAW at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 29 March 2013.
- Accident description for D-AMHL at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 13 December 2012.
- 1944 crash at the Aviation Safety Network
- Nøkleby, Berit. Politigeneral og hirdsjef. Karl A. Marthinsen (in Norwegian). Oslo: Aschehoug. pp. 102–103. ISBN 978-82-03-29226-2.
- Accident description for D-ASHE at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 29 March 2013.
- ASN Aircraft accident Focke-Wulf Fw 200 D-ARHW Målkläppen at the Aviation Safety Network
- Accident description for D-ANAJ at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 13 December 2012.
- ASN Aircraft accident Focke-Wulf Fw 200KB-1 D-ASHH Piesenkofen Aviation Safety Network
- German article on the 1945 aircrash