Buy State Flags from Allstate FlagsBuy US flags from Five Star Flags
This page is part of © FOTW Flags Of The World website


Deutschland, Federal Republic of Germany, Bundesrepublik Deutschland

Last modified: 2006-09-23 by jarig bakker
Keywords: germany | deutschland |
Links: FOTW homepage | search | disclaimer and copyright | write us | mirrors

[Germany] 3:5  image by António Martins
Flag adopted 9th May 1949, as civil ensign 14th Aug 1950

See also:


As the western occupation zones moved to unity in the last years of the 1940s, it became obvious that the governmental entity which would develop would adopt the black-red-gold of the Weimar Republic and indeed, it was established as the National Flag on 9 May 1949, two weeks before the Federal Republic came into existence. Unlike the Weimar period, there has been no serious opposition. Most of the 1949 flags are still in use.
Norman Martin, Feb 1998

The official name of the German flag is Bundesflagge (federal flag). However, this name is mainly used by authorities or in very official announcements. The name given on the page about names of flags, Schwarz-Rot-Gold (black-red-gold), is not very usual; it is more a poetic term. Most Germans simply call the flag Deutschlandfahne (Germany flag).
Carsten Linke, 2 May 1996

Sport sailors in Germany call their national flag Adenauer (first chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany).
Jens Wessel, 3 Jan 2001

National Flag and Civil Ensign / Federal Flag (National- und Handelsflagge / Bundesflagge)

[National Flag and Civil Ensign (Germany)] 3:5  image by António Martins
Flag adopted 9th May 1949, as civil ensign 14th Aug 1950

Identical [except proportions] with the National Flag of the Weimar Republic. Adopted as Federal flag 9 May 1949 and usage extended to civil ensign 14 August 1950. Illustrated in Pedersen 1971 p. 30, Smith 1975, p. 227, Crampton 1990i, p. 43, Album des Pavillons 1990, p. 17 and many other places.
Norman Martin, Feb 1998

Today the black-red-yellow tricolour is used as the national flag and the merchant ensign. The state flag and ensign are the same, but with the shield not really centred but placed toward the hoist. The naval ensign and jack are the same, but swallowtailed.
Pascal Vagnat, 4 Sep 1996

Hanging Flag (Banner)

[National Flag and Civil Ensign, hanging flag variant (Germany)]5:2  image by Marcus Schmöger
Flag adopted 13th Nov 1996

Since 13th November 1996 also the hanging flag (Banner) is legally prescribed, although it was used long before. Legal prescription is the Anordnung über die deutschen Flaggen (Instruction on the German Flags) of 13th November 1996, published in the Bundesgesetzblatt I 1996, p. 1729. The image I made is in proportion 5:2, as this is the most frequently found proportion for hanging flags in Germany. Sources: Laitenberger and Bassier 2000, Friedel 1968 and Bundesministerium des Innern 1956. See also Very long hanging flags.
Marcus Schmöger, 14 Mar 2001

Hanging Flag variants (Banner)

hanging flag variant #1 <1> hanging flag variant #2 <2> images by Thorsten, 5 Apr 2003

I would like to discuss the description of hanging German flags. I can't speak for all regions of Germany (e.g., the main contributor/editor of the Germany page seems to reside in Bavaria), but at least in the northeastern parts of the country (i.e. the former GDR including Berlin, the national capital), (true) vertical flags (i.e., flags hanging from a horizontal bar) are extremely rare.

However, it is very common to hoist very tall and narrow flags (the German term for this kind of flag is "Knatterfahne") on a regular flag pole.
This particular kind of flag is so popular, that many government offices use it exclusively. I can only speculate as to the rationale. Real estate is in short supply in Germany and many office buildings have "their" flagpoles on very narrow sidewalks in front of the building. If "regular" flags of sufficient size would be flown, they might brush against trees, the next flag pole, or the building facade.

Two different variants are used. The most popular option is to "rotate" (and  slightly stretched) the flag. In other words, the black stripe of the German flag would run along the flagpole <1>. In the less frequent variant, the stripes are still arranged horizontally, leading to "stripes" whose individual ratios are roughly 1:1!<2>

In addition to the national flag, govt. buildings usually also fly a (very tall and narrow) European Union flag. State office buildings also fly their state flag. Since my home state is Saxony-Anhalt, I have included the two variants of that flag (which can appear with or without the state CoA, so that there would actually be four variants.)

I noticed that the shade for the yellow stripe on the Saxony-Anhalt state flag is identical to the shade used for the German national flag. This choice seems unfortunate, as the the color is given explicitely as yellow and not gold. Whenever you see a Saxony-Anhalt flag flying next to the German black-red-gold, it is very obvious that the yellow in the Sax-Anh. flag is lighter. (I don't have any official specification, but the yellow from the Belgian national flag seems just about right.).

Perhaps ironically, a tall flag hoisted on a flag pole is given for a fringe political party, when such flags are actually very common, not just for EU, Germany, and states, but many flags hoisted in front of buildings, e.g., political flags, commercial flags etc.
Thorsten, 5 Apr 2003

I regard all these flags *true* vertical flags also, the only problem with all these flags are the proper English terms, as these types of flags (be it Hängefahne, Banner or Knatterfahne) are *very* uncommon in other countries.
Marcus E.V. Schmöger, 9 Apr 2003

Coat-of-Arms (Bundeswappen)

[Coat-of-Arms (Germany)] image by Marcus Schmöger, 16 Mar 2001

If used alone as coat-of-arms, this is the legally prescribed form. However the eagle is used in different forms (e.g. on flags, seals or in the Bundestag). The legal prescriptions are the Bekanntmachung betreffend das Bundeswappen und den Bundesadler (Proclamation on the Federal Coat-of-Arms and the Federal Eagle) of 20th January 1950, published in the Bundesgesetzblatt I 1950, p. 26 and the Bekanntmachung über die farbige Darstellung des Bundeswappens (Proclamation on the Coloured Representation of the Federal Coat-of-Arms) of 4th July 1952, published in the Bundesanzeiger no. 169, 2nd September 1952. The latter contains a coloured table on which the coat-of-arms is depicted. Compare with the 'federal shield' or Bundesschild, also with the eagle in the presidential standard.
Source: Laitenberger and Bassier 2000.
Marcus Schmöger, 16 Mar 2001

Historical use of the current flag

The black-red-yellow tricolour flag has been used at least three times in the history of Germany. It was adopted in 1848, and abolished in 1852; readopted as the flag of the Weimar Republic on August 11th 1919, and abolished and replaced by the Third Reich flag March 12th 1933. It was finally readopted as the modern German flag on 8 May 1949. It was used by the German Democratic Republic until 1959, but had added to it a coat of arms from 1959 to 1989, when the Germanies were reunited.
Mark Sensen, 1996

The black-red-gold is historically associated with "liberal" nationalism in Germany, rather than republicanism per se. It was first adopted by the Frankfurt Parliament in 1848 for the proposed united German Empire. That the 1870 German Empire went for a flag asserting north German traditions (the black and white of Prussia with the white and red of the Hanseatic League) was due to Bismarck wanting a Kleindeutschland [smaller Germany] solution — excluding the Austrian lands, rather than the Frankfurt liberals' Grossdeutschland [greater Germany] which would have included the Austrian lands within the old German Confederation.
Roy Stilling, 5 Oct 1996

Folding the German flag

When I was in the German federal navy (Bundesmarine), in 1992/93, there was only one rule for folding the "Bundesdienstflagge der Seestreitkräfte". In the end, there should be only black in the outside. The reason was, you couldn't see the dirt on the black. Because of the swallowtail, we started to fold it in the middle
along the red stripe.
Another rule was how long the flag was allowed to use. When the eagle was hurt, you had to change it against a new one.
J. Patrick Fischer, 20 Aug 2003

When I was in the (American) Boy Scouts in Germany in the 1960s, our summer camp near Giessen flew both US and German flags, and we were taught when lowering the German flag to fold it so that only black was on the outside.  They never told us why, and we were all kids from military families, so I guess we knew that was the kind of thing you didn't question.
Joe McMillan, 20 Aug 2003


(See also: Flag Days of the World (main page)
27 Jan - Memorial Day for the Victims of National Socialism (half staff)
1 May - Day of Labour (Tag der Arbeit)
5 May - Europe Day
23 May - Constitution Day, 1949
17 Jun - Workers Day (originally an anniversary of protest on 17 June 1953 in East Germany, retained in the unified Germany, but now replaced with 3
     October: Day of German Unity)
20 Jul - Anniversary of the 20th of July, 1944 - failed coup d'etat aimed at ending Hitler's rule.
3 Oct - Reunification Day, 1990
(4 Oct - Day of German Unity (original Workers Day, an anniversary of protest on 17 June 1953 in East Germany, now replaced with 3 October)
c. 17 Nov - Memorial Day (Volkstrauertag) (varies - second Sunday before the start of the advent season) - on this day flags are displayed at half staff.

A detailed account is given by Jörg Karaschewski on the following (German-language) page.