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Czechoslovakia 1918-1920

Last modified: 2005-03-12 by jarig bakker
Keywords: czechoslovakia | czech republic | slovakia | europe | proposal | stamp | chalice |
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[Flag of Czechoslovakia 1918-1920] by Mark Sensen, 02 July 1996. See also:

Flag of Czechoslovakia 1918-1920

The historical flag for the Czech countries is horizontal white over red (i.e. the Bohemian Landesfarben in the Habsburg Empire, based on the arms - white double-tailed lion on red), and was unofficially used until some years ago. This was also the first flag of Czechoslovakia when this state was born in 1918 (independence proclaimed 14 november). On 29 february 1920 a blue triangle on the hoist was added.
Mark Sensen 02 July 1996

The statement that the Czechoslovak independence was proclaimed at 14 november 1918 is not true.
It was proclaimed on 28 October 1918 after the announcement of the Austro-Hungarian attempt of peace negotiation with the Entente. The very same day is up till now a public holiday in the Czech Republic, and probably in the Slovak Republic too.
Tomá¹ Jakl, 18 Sep 2001

Czechoslovak pre-1918 flag?

[Czechoslovak pre-1918 flags?] From the Flags on Stamps page.

There is a flag that I do not remember being discussed here, shown on a Czech stamp of 1998, looking like a "federation of Thailand and Micronesia" flag. This is what Graham Knight says about it on that site: "The stamp depicts a World War 1 recruiting poster used in the USA and it shows various contemporary Czech and Slovak flags. The red flag with the rampant lion is a banner of the Bohemian coat of arms. Behind are 2 examples of the Resistance flag (five horizontal stripes - red, white, blue, white, red, the blue being of double width). This  flag was designed by V Preissig for Milan Stefanik, a Slovak Nationalist member of the National Council which the Allies had recognised as the Czechoslovak government in exile. The flag was  identified with the National Council but was not adopted as the national flag when the National Committee declared the independence of Czechoslovakia on 28 October 1918 in Prague. The other flags not shown in full include, at furthest right, a Slovak flag depicting the Slovak arms, a double cross in white. These arms were taken from those of Matica Slovensk, a Slovak patriotic society, which had taken them from "Hungary Modern", the dexter part of the arms of Hungary. One of the flags furthest to the rear shows a black eagle's wing-part of a banner of the arms of Silesia which depict an eagle (Silesia formed the Czech lands along with Bohemia and Moravia.) In front of it is a banner of the Moravian arms-a red and white chequered eagle on a blue field. I cannot identify the flags placed behind these flags."
Graham Knight.

The flags, apart that of the National Council, are BOAs of 4 components of Czechoslovakia: Bohemia (white lion on red), Moravia (white and red checquered eagle on blue), Silesia (Back eagle on yellow) and Slovakia (white cross on a  mountain on a red over blue field)"
Jean-Francois Blanc.

This stamp was released in 1998 (80th anniversary of foundation of Czechoslovakia) and as mentioned, motive is from recruiting poster used in the USA (WW1 - prob. 1917). The unidentified flags on the stamp are probably the Hussite war flags. Here is most used flag - white chalice in the red field. This flag was used by Jan Zizka z Trocnova, but others Hussite leaders have their own modifications of this motive, e.g. red chalice in the black field or red chalice with small black cross in the white field.
Marek Hlávka, 28 Aug 2000

This stamp is in the Yvert-stampcatalogue #189 of the series 189/190 - and # 204 in the Stanley Gibbons catalogue.
B. Lagarrigue, 25 Apr 2003

A 1918 proposal for a Czechoslovakian flag

[1918 Czechoslovakian proposal] by Jarig Bakker, 22 Feb 2005

At the Historical museum of the National Slovakian museum of Bratislava, I found a reproduction of a display "birth of Czechoslovakian Republic" showing a rather special flag for Czechoslavakia..
Joan-Francés Blanc 19 March 1998

I think I saw this flag mentioned as the flag of a Czechoslovakian unit in the post-WWI war against the young Soviet Russia. In other words, the flag of one of the 'white' armies. I think I saw this in a museum in Prague, but I have no recollection of which one.
Ole Andersen, 17 Feb 2000

The so-called "©tefánik Flag" became the official banner or flag of the Czechoslovak National Council, and was primarily used as the Czechoslovak War Flag after the General inspected the Legion units in Siberia at the end of 1918. It consisted of a white stripe above a red one. The letter "ÈS" in yellow color were inscribed in the center. There was a relatively wide blue border at the top, bottom and outside edges and a blunt blue wedge along the remaining side. The General himself explained the flag's symbolism thus: "The war flag of the Czechoslovak army is plain: colors: white, red, blue, blue like a wedge which we have used to smash an iceberg of misunderstanding, disfavor, resentment and malice. Our white and red colors appear on a blue background as they may appear on a blue sky, from which, God willing, the cloud of subjugation has been banished forever"."
Source: "Czech State and Military Symbols, 1996".
Jarig Bakker, 22 Feb 2005

Proposals for the Czechoslovak national flag (1919)

In "Flags in South Africa and the world" (Proceedings of the XVIIth International Congress of Vexillology), a paper by Ales Brozek, entitled "Several unpublished proposals for the design of the Czechoslovak national flag" (pp. 142-147) gives interesting details on the genesis of the Czechoslovak (now Czech) national flag.

Flag designs of the artist Jaroslav Jares (1919), found by A. Brozek in archives of the Jares family. There is no text with the original drawings so it is not known whether all the proposals were meant for the national flag or for other types of flags. All proposals use the pan-slavic colors (blue, white and red). The black triangle with a red chalice or sun may refer to the Hussite
movement (XVth century) named after the reformist Jan Hus, whose flags were thought to contain these colours and devices.
I have numbered them <cz!jj1.gif> to <cz!jj12.gif> There is no <cz!jj4.gif> in the series because this proposal matches exactly the Czechoslovak national flag,  Displaying this proposal in exhibitions was the source of an urban legend according to which Jares created the national flag by winning a flag contest in 1920. Jares can probably be credited with the idea of the triangle at the hoist (in one of his earlier proposal from November 1918) but could not have influenced the Arms Committee in 1919-1920 in the definitive choice of the national flag.

Flag designs of the minister of railways Isidor Zahradnik (19 December 1919), found by A. Brozek in the archives of the Premonstratensian monastery in Prague. As a member of the Constitutional Committee, Zahradnik did not like the flag with the triangle at hoist issued in October 1919. His alternative proposals were influenced by the American flag and the flag used by the Czechs and Slovaks in America. Zahradnik finally supported the flag adopted on 30 March 1920 and can be credited for its adoption.
Ivan Sache, 14 Feb 2000

What did the five stars stand for? Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia, Slovakia and Ruthenia?
Santiago Dotor, 16 Feb 2000

I have re-read carefully Ales Brozek's paper and he does not give an explanation for the stars. Since Brozek refuses in his paper any temptation to interpretation not based on facts, I guess that Zahradnik did not leave any written or oral explanation of his drawing. Anyway, Santiago's hypothesis seems plausible.
Ivan Sache, 18 Feb 2000

Jaroslav Jares (1919) proposals

[Jaroslav Jares first proposal] by Ivan Sache, 14 Feb 2000

The chalice was/is a major symbol of the Hussite reformers. One of their chief grievances against the Roman Catholic Church was its insistence that the laity could receive only bread in the Eucharist, the wine being reserved to the clergy. The Hussites or Utraquists (from the Latin word for "both") demanded that communion be given in both species - hence their use of the wine chalice as a symbol of the movement. The chalice is carved on the front of at least one of the main Hussite (or maybe formerly Hussite) churches in Prague. Using the chalice as a symbol of Czechoslovakia might have been anathema to Slovak Catholics of the 1920s, many of whom considered Bohemian and Moravian Catholics to be at least tainted by the heresy of the Hussites.
Joseph McMillan, 14 Feb 2000

Today, a burning chalice is used by the (Boston-based) Unitarian Universalist Association and by Unitarians and Universalists elsewhere too. It appears that the UUA uses the burning chalice in a flag.
Ole Andersen, 14 Feb 2000

Jaroslav Jares second proposal by Ivan Sache, 14 Feb 2000

[Jaroslav Jares third proposal] by Ivan Sache, 14 Feb 2000

[Jaroslav Jares fifth proposal] by Ivan Sache, 14 Feb 2000

[Jaroslav Jares 6th proposal] by Ivan Sache, 14 Feb 2000

[Jaroslav Jares 7th proposal] by Ivan Sache, 14 Feb 2000

[Jaroslav Jares 8th proposal] by Ivan Sache, 14 Feb 2000

[Jaroslav Jares 9th proposal] by Ivan Sache, 14 Feb 2000

[Jaroslav Jares 10th proposal] by Ivan Sache, 14 Feb 2000

[Jaroslav Jares 11th proposal] by Ivan Sache, 14 Feb 2000

[Jaroslav Jares 12th proposal] by Ivan Sache, 14 Feb 2000

Isidor Zahradnik (19 December 1919) proposals

[Isidor Zahradnik first proposal] by Ivan Sache, 14 Feb 2000

[Isidor Zahradnik second proposal] by Ivan Sache, 14 Feb 2000

[Isidor Zahradnik third proposal] by Ivan Sache, 14 Feb 2000