While the traditional view of the great British and German transatlantic ocean liners stresses the nationalism of the period, the shipping companies themselves seem to have been more concerned with the bottom line than with the construction of national monuments. The steamship lines competed as fiercely with their domestic rivals as with foreign challengers and seem to have indulged the nationalistic symbolism thrust upon their ships only to the extent required to maintain royal favor, public support, and government subsidies.
But having encouraged the idea that they were servants of the national interests, the steamship companies may have cooperated in their own eventual demise as private enterprises. In 1930, the German government forced the Hamburg Amerika line and the Norddeutscher Lloyd to merge; HAPAG-Lloyd was created, and eventually the Swastika was hoisted from the masts of German liners. And in 1933 the British government demanded the merger of Cunard and White Star as a precondition for the government funding required to complete Hull 534, which had lain, half built, at the John Brown Company shipyard on the river Clyde for almost two years, a casualty of the Great Depression. The companies agreed, Hull 534 became the Queen Mary, and on January 1, 1934 the White Star Line ceased to exist.