During WWII, a number of German companies received financial backing and slave labourers from the government at the time. Companies such as Hugo Boss, Volkswagen and Lufthansa.

A thread on Airliners.net from 1999 mentions a documentary showing Lufthansa planes flying with the Swastika on their tail. I found this image online:

What is the story behind Lufthansa's involvement with the National Socialist Party? Did they indeed receive large monetary backing from the then-government?

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    $\begingroup$ Nazis just changed the national flag. Any German airline would have no choice in the matter. They may have received money from the government being run the Nazi party, sure, but that doesn't mean they would stop flying when a new party took over. They just change the flag back. $\endgroup$
    – p1l0t
    Mar 17, 2014 at 21:47

2 Answers 2


NSDAP was the elected ruling party in Germany from 1933 to 1945 (only the first part of it elected though); thus Lufthansa was given government money, not "Nazi"-money. During this time, they made the Swastika the flag of Germany. American Airlines sport the American flag all over their tail, and I'm sure they (at some point) have received government money as well. If you replace every occurrence of "Nazis" in your question (including title) with "government", you'll notice it becomes slightly less provocative, and the parallels to other airlines and other countries become readily apparent.

When the war started, I would assume the military requisitioned all the assets they needed including airplanes and services from Lufthansa. I'm not much of an historian though, so I can't give you any details, but I'm sure they're out there to find. I realize this doesn't really answer your question (Lufthansa's involvement with the German government), the point I'm trying to make is that it's very hard to answer, as with any airline and any government.


Look up the idea of a national airline, a flag carrier, and drop your attitude that for whatever reason they should have been banned from operating because they had been such.

Aeroflot carried the flag of the USSR proudly, the USSR killed more people than Nazi Germany ever did. Totally irrelevant. They're their country's flag carrier, so they show the flag.

Anyway, this has nothing to do with anything military. Lufthansa was state owned at the time (and indeed into the 1990s), so of course they flew the then current flag of the state, which for a decade happened to include the Swastika.

Also, the post-WW2 Lufthansa is a different company from the pre-WW2 Lufthansa. It was incorporated in 1953 and purchased the name Lufthansa on the open market as a trade name, an old and proud name in European aviation, a name associated with quality and reliability.

They still bear the national flag of Germany to this date, albeit a smaller one. But at the time it was very common for airlines to show the national flag very large and proud on the tail fin or fuselage.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks a lot for your answer! This makes a lot of sense, and answers the question of the flag being flown; but it doesn't touch on any financial support they received. You mentioned the "new" Lufthansa was formed in '53. Was the "old" Lufthansa forced to close down? $\endgroup$ Mar 18, 2014 at 1:06
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    $\begingroup$ @DannyBeckett after WW2 Germany for several years did not exist. Lufthansa was indeed shut down as a result (as were all agencies of the German government). Financial support? They were a government agency, effectively. Thus their finances were part of the government finances. $\endgroup$
    – jwenting
    Mar 18, 2014 at 7:45
  • $\begingroup$ Mmmm, this response is perhaps just a tad inflammatory. I will admit, I didn't see the orignial wording on the question as Danny has been kind enough to work with us to make it less about "Nazis" and more about how a wartime government subsidized an airline, which is a legitimate question. I downvoted this answer, and until it's less argumentative and more to the point of the actual question, that vote will stay down. $\endgroup$
    – Jay Carr
    Mar 20, 2014 at 13:47
  • $\begingroup$ @JayCarr You can see the original version of the question by clicking the "edited 7 hours ago" link, and looking through the revisions. My original post is here. $\endgroup$ Mar 20, 2014 at 21:48
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    $\begingroup$ @jwenting "drop your attitude", "USSR killed more people than Nazi Germany ever did", "an old and proud name in European aviation", "very large and proud on the tail...". All emotionally charged statements which, in context, are inflammatory. They add nothing to the answer except a sense of righteous indignation. Granted, perhaps the original question warranted that. But, the question has been edited and no longer requires a backlash of any sort. Again, until this answer is edited to be less emotionally charged, I stand by my down vote. $\endgroup$
    – Jay Carr
    Mar 21, 2014 at 13:14

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