The Anti-Defamation League said in a statement Tuesday that, as Lufthansa was a German company, “it has a special responsibility to educate its staff” and criticized the company’s apologies.
“This no excuse does not admit guilt or identify banned passengers as Jews,” the Anti-Defamation League said.
Max Weingarten and Eli Meisels, both Orthodox Jews, were also on their way to the cemetery in Hungary and were allowed on both flights. They said they were dressed “more casually” than the other Jewish passengers, in trousers and shirts. Mr. Weingarten wore a skullcap and Mr. Meisels a baseball cap.
They said they were among the first passengers to board the plane in Frankfurt because they had first class seats. They did not realize that other people had been blocked from the flight and were surprised when they were told boarding was complete, about two minutes after sitting down.
Mr. Weingarten, 36, called an acquaintance who had also traveled first class but was not on the plane, and the man told him gate agents had blocked boarding for Jews.
“This made us feel absolutely horrified,” said Mr. Weingarten. “Obviously right away, all these images, films, books that we read from 1939 to 1944 popped up and many of these images now go through our heads.”
Mr. Meisels, 27, wore a mask for the entire flight from New York. Mr. Weingarten said he removed the mask for parts of the flight, although no Lufthansa workers asked him or any other first-class passengers to wear a mask.