The East German passport of an Interflug-Pilot

Airline history German passport Interflug pilot

Deutsche Lufthansa was Germany’s flag carrier until the end of World War II. Following the allied conquest, all planes in the country were captured, and the airline stopped operations in 1954. Nonetheless, Lufthansa’s name was soon trademarked in West Germany, followed by Deutsche Lufthansa’s trademarking in East Germany. Officials in East Germany were concerned about potential legal complications with a name close to the initial trademarking over the border. As a result, it established Interflug in 1958 just in case there were any issues. Deutsche Lufthansa was eventually disbanded in 1963 due to weak financials. Its operations were then transferred over to Interflug to handle.

Photo: Ralf Manteufel via Wikimedia Commons

Interflug was located at Berlin Schönefeld Airport and primarily operated a fleet of recognizable Soviet planes over the years. The Ilyushin Il-18, Il-62, Tupolev Tu-134, and Tupolev Tu-154 were among the models available. There were, however, a few more additions along the road. The Czechoslovak Aero Ae-45, for example, entered in 1956 before departing in 1961. In 1989, an Airbus A310 joined Interflug during its latter years. Then a Dash 8-100 emerged the next year. Following reunification in 1990, however, these units saw little action since the company was quickly liquidated. German passport Interflug pilot

Two Tu-134As with the aircraft identifiers DDR-SDH and DDR-SDI of the Ministry of State Security were also stationed at Schönefeld. These aircraft flew with Interflug identification and livery. Officially, today, with their appearance as civilian Interflug aircraft, overflight permits were easier to obtain. Among other things, they were used to repatriate GDR citizens who had committed crimes abroad. The plane was owned by Interflug, which was also responsible for maintenance, repair, and technical handling. Both aircraft were operationally subordinate to Transport Air Wing 44 of the NVA Air Force.

The airline primarily served countries that were members of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance during its years of operation (COMECON). This was an economic union that mainly included countries from the Eastern Bloc and other communist countries worldwide. As a result, the operator served many of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia locations, including Moscow, Minsk, Kyiv, Leningrad, Ljubljana, Split, and Zagreb. It also flew to several cities in both East and West Germany.

The airline also served to other distant COMECON countries worldwide and various other short and medium-range trips to European, North African, and Middle Eastern cities. It began flying to Havana, Cuba, and Hanoi, Vietnam, in 1975.

Altogether, Interflug was notably unprofitable in its latter years, but it did have a potentially lucrative route map. Following the fall of the Berlin Wall, Lufthansa was interested in purchasing 26% of the airline. Eventually, this move was blocked by antitrust groups. Furthermore, British Airways made an offer, but the United Kingdom’s flag carrier instead formed Deutsche BA.

Following unification, the airline couldn’t find any suitable investors, and it was liquidated in April 1991. Before its final days, it held 39 planes and employed 2,900 people. Several prospective buyers preferred to let the carrier dissolve to develop the market with their assets. A Tu-134 performed Interflug’s last flight, Vienna to Berlin on April 30th, 1991.

Staff selected for Interflug had to pass a detailed background check as those people were privileged to fly also abroad, and the airline/government had to ensure they all returned.

The passport and further documents

After 31 years of German reunification, I am excited to present this East German (GDR) passport of an INTERFLUG PILOT, which comes with additional documents of his career in the only national airline of East Germany. The documents displayed here belonged once to flight captain HERMANN ENTRICH, born 1934 and a long-time member of the airline from, at least, 1959 onwards until the end of the airline.

This document is outstanding and extraordinarily rare, considering this man was not only an early member of the GDR LUFTHANSA / INTERFLUG but also a FLIGHT CAPTAIN!

Very glad to have this document set in my collection.

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