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Third Reich 1933-1945 (Germany)

Flags used 11th March 1933 - 15th September 1935

Last modified: 2005-09-17 by santiago dotor
Keywords: third reich | nationalsocialist | president | pilot | postal | disc (white) | swastika | cross: swastika (black) | hakenkreuz | iron cross | cross: formy (black) | bordure (white) | bugle |
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[Civil Flag and Ensign 1933-1935 (Germany)] 3:5     
by António Martins
[Swastika Flag 1933-1935 (Germany)] 3:5
by Mark Sensen and António Martins
Flags adopted 14th March 1933 as co-national flags, used jointly until 15th September 1935

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Civil Flag and Ensign 1933-1935

National- und Handelsflagge

[Civil Flag and Ensign 1933-1935 (Germany)] 3:5
by António Martins

The Nazis reinstated the schwarz-weiss-rot flag when they came to power in 1933 — the black-red-gold of the Weimar Republic (and modern-day Germany) being associated by the right-wingers with Germany's defeat in 1918. However the Swastika Party Flag was flown alongside it, including on merchant ships where it flew from the starboard yard-arm. In 1935 anti-Nazi activists boarded a German ship in New York harbour and tore down the Swastika flag. The American authorities refused to take any action on the grounds that only a political flag had been tampered with, not the national colours. The Reichstag subsequently unanimously declared the swastika flag the [sole] national flag of Germany in September 1935.

Roy Stilling, 9 April 1996

The national flag and the merchant ensign were both the black-white-red tricolour at first (1933-1935), then the red flag with the white disk containing the Hakenkreuz which from 1935 to 1945 fulfilled these functions.

Pascal Vagnat, 4 September 1996

I believe the ratio of all Imperial German flags and ensigns, except the war ensign (Kaiserliche Kriegsflagge) was 2:3 not 3:5. However, when the 1871-1918 flag was readopted in 1933 as co-national flag (together with the swastika flag), did it keep the 2:3 ratio (and the swastika a 3:5 one), or was it enlarged to 3:5?

Santiago Dotor, 29 March 2001

Actually the new flags were not introduced officially until 14 March 1933, although this usage may have formally started earlier.

Norman Martin, 17 November 2001

Swastika Flag


[Civil Flag 1933-1935 (Third Reich, Germany)] 3:5      [Civil Ensign 1933-1945 (Third Reich, Germany)] 3:5
both by Mark Sensen and António Martins

Hitherto the party flag of the Nazi Party, the swastika flag was declared to be jointly the national flag with the black-white-red and was to be flown jointly with it. On merchant ships the black-white-red flew from the stern. The colours were those of the Second Reich, and before that the Prussian-dominated North German Confederation. They combined the black over white of Prussia and the red and white of the Hanseatic League (see also the red and white flags of the modern states of Bremen and Hamburg).

Norman Martin, 1998

It is clear that only the centered version was used on land 1933-35. The only version used or authorized at sea at any time 1933-45 was the off-centered version.

Norman Martin, 14 September 1999

Retired Naval Officers' Civil Ensign 1933-1935

Flagge für ehemalige Marineoffiziere als Führer von Handelsschiffen

[Retired Naval Officers' Civil Ensign 1933-1935 (Germany)]
by Jaume Ollé
Flag adopted 1933, abolished 1935

The black-white-red tricolour with a double-bordered Iron Cross in the black stripe at the hoist, thus the Weimar merchant flag with the Iron Cross (which it replaced) with the black-red-gold canton (but not the Iron Cross) removed. It was in use 1933 to 1935.

Norman Martin, 1998

Pilot Flag 1933-1935


[Pilot Flag 1933-1935 (Germany)] 2:3
by Santiago Dotor
Flag adopted 4th July 1867, abolished 1922, readopted 1933, abolished 1935

Like the previous pilot flag, but with the plain black-white-red flag instead of the former merchant flag in the center, thus a reversion to the Imperial pilot flag. This flag remained in use until 1935.

Norman Martin, 1998

Armed Forces State Flag March-April 1933

Dienstflagge der Wehrmachtbehörden zur See

[Armed Forces State Flag March-April 1933 (Germany)] 3:5
by Tom Gregg

The black-white-red tricolour with the national eagle in the center of the white stripe. Except for the form of the eagle, this is the same as the flag of the Governors of German East Africa and Kiaochao of the Imperial era. This flag was official for vessels of the armed forces not entitled to fly the ensign from 11th March to 22nd April 1933, when it was superseded by the Government Authorities flag [state flag and ensign]. Considering the short period of time involved, it is dubious as to whether and how often it was actually flown.

Norman Martin, 1998

The "military authorities flag" was established by the Verordnung über die Hoheitszeichen der deutschen Wehrmacht of 14 March 1933:

Die Dienstflagge der Reichsbehörden zur See, soweit sie von Behörden der Wehrmacht geführt wird, wie die Reichskriegsflagge, jedoch im weißen Streifen der Reichsadler an stelle des Eisernen Kreuzes.
The same ordinance changed the design of the war flag by eliminating the black-red-gold canton. It appears to have been superceded by the new Reichsdienstflagge established by the Zweite Verordnung über die vorläufige Regelung der Flaggenführung of 22 April 1933, although it is not explicitly mentioned. Even though I do not have a copy of the ordinance of 31 October 1935, I am pretty sure the "military authorities flag" did not last that long, firstly, because my notes say so —although they do not mention an authority—, but also because the flag publication of the interior ministry of 1934 [Reichsministerium des Innern 1934] does not illustrate it. If that is nevertheless not so, the "military authorities flag" certainly did not survive the 1935 change.

Norman Martin, 13 December 2001

Postal Flag 1933-1935


Like the State Flag and Ensign 1933-1935 except with a gold posthorn replacing the eagle, thus very similar to the Imperial era Postal Flag, except for the crown.

Norman Martin, 1998

Adopted 31 March 1933. Abolished 19 September 1935. Source: a paper by Emil Dreyer in the Reports of the 15th International Congress of Vexillology.

Norman Martin, 10 December 1999

The similarity with the 1893-1919 flag (just leaving away the crown) is very striking, even the post horn is essentially the same. There was no postal flag in the period 1935-1936. Sources: Meyer 17 1960, Dreyer 1999 and Hecker and Hoog 1978.

Marcus Schmöger, 29 March 2001