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Vukovar-Srijem County (Croatia)

Vukovarsko-Srijemska zupanija

Last modified: 2005-11-05 by dov gutterman
Keywords: vukovar | srijem | county | croatia | zupanija | vukovarsko-srijemska |
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image by Željko Heimer

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One of the richest counties, the County of Vukovar-Srijem was occupied in 1991, and heavily damaged, its capital Vukovar, being a symbol of Croatian resistance in the war, is totally destroyed. A great part of the County is now part of UN Protected Area, and is to be peacefully reintegrated with Croatia.
Željko Heimer

I have bought a book: Csa'ki, Imre: A magyar kira'lysa'g va'rmegyéinek ci'merei a XVIII-XIX. sza'zadban, Corvina, Budapest, 1995 , in which are shown (one big coat of arms in each page!) all the coats of arms of the counties of the Hungarian part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the XVIII. and XIX. centuries.
« Szerém va'rmegye » [Srijem county]: French XIX c. shield, azure three wavy fesses argent surcharged with a grass field vert on which is a deer natural at rest collared or near a tree natural. The shield is surmounted by a royal crown or. The coat of arms was adopted in 1747.
Pascal Vagnat, 28 June 1998

It is used today for Vukovar-Srijem county.
Željko Heimer, 2 July 1998

The County of Vukovar and Srijem (Vukovarsko-srijemska z<upanija) is situated in far easter endo of Croatia, on border with Vojvodina. Region called Srijem (and Srem in Serbian, Szere/m in Hungarian) is on northern bank of Sava river, in a "traingle" formed by its confluance to Donau (Dunav). After the WWII the border between Croatia and Vojvodina (as authonomous region in Serbia) was made right through the middle of Srijem, so leaving eastern Srijem in Vojvodina, and western in Croatia.
The region was considered part of Slavonian kingdom, but was early lost to Osmanlias. The battles from Turks were lead throut the history, and the whole region was liberated finnaly in 1718. In year 1745 the county of Srijem was formed again, and along the Sava river in 1747 was formed Petrovaradin (or 9th) regiment (Petrovaradin is fort in what's today Novi Sad, on Srijem side of Donau). On 6 June1747 the empress Maria Theresia granted the coat of arms to Srijem county [Source 1] (other sources, including the current Decision on the arma and flag [Source 3], call this coa to be from year 1748, probably since the original document was given to the county on 15 January 1748). The coat of arms was described in Latin (which was the official language of Croatian laws of the time): ... in scuto caeruleo coronato representtatur tres fluvii Danubius, Savus et Pacuntium, vulgo Boszud (limites nempe Syrmii), et in solo viridi pone arborem cupressum cervus cubans aureo torque collo circumductus, capite et cornibus erectis in solo graminoso intra dictos fluvios limitaneos; ... [Source 2]. Syrmium is Latin name for Srijem).
If the county flag was ever made, I have not found that it is preserved - however, I have not made contact with local museums where this may happen to be.
In the administrative reform of 1993 the county of Vukovar and Srijem was formed, which considered itself the inheritor of the former Srijem county (Due to the Serb occupation of Vukovar, the temoprarily seat of administration was made in Vinkovci, and still today there are certain offices there). The reborn county soon began with effort to gat her army approved. The coa and flag were discussed in July 1993, when initiative was made to adopt the official decision on them. After consulting relevant expersts and archives, on 6 August 1993 the Decision [Source 3] was made, describing coat of arms in the Art. 5: "The coat of arms of the County of Vukovar and Srijem is essentially the coat of arms of the Srijem county of 1748. The coat of arms is in shape of a shield with blue background, on which there are three rivers represented as three horizontal bars of equal width in silver (Dunav, Sava, Bosut), in central part there is on green loan a deer resting, with golden collar around the neck (symbol of richness), and behing the deer to the sinister grows a Slavonian oak (symbols of natural richness of the region). ..." The rivers are now simplified in layout, being the stright-edged bars, not wavy any more. The tree is now not cypress, but the oak typical for the region.
The flag is what seems on of the most complicated. Defined in Art. 8: "The flag is 200x105 cm in size. The flag is made of longitudinal stirpes 15 cm in width interchangably golde-yellow and white. First and last stripe is golden-yellow. Lower edge of the flag is indented (golden-yellow stripes are 15 cm longer then the white stripes) and form tungues in shape of squares 15x15 cm. In the middle of the flag there is the coat of arms of the County of Vukovar and Srijem 41 cm in width and 46 cm in height. The coat of arms is 32 cm from left and right edge of the flag, and 70 cm from the upper edge of the flag."
It seems from the description that it is the vertical version of the flag that is described. The illustrations that are in appendix of the decision are clear about that. However the description does not say clearly if 200 cm is with or without the tongues? The illustration does not halp much, since it seems longer then any of the possibilities (this is maybe due to xeroxing effect?). I concluded that the tungues are not counted into 200 cm of the "flag field", so the ratio is 21:43 (105x215 cm, including tongues, of course, which are indented 3 units, of course).
The coat of arms and the flag were approved by the Ministry of Administration already on 8 September 1993 [Source 4], so this is by far the earliest modern Croatian county flag (among those on which I have data, of course). Anyway, for whatever reason, I have not noted the use of that flag until 1995 - it may be due to the fact that at that time the county and its liberation came to media focus and I was not looking enough earlier, or maybe it was really shyly used before that.
The horizontal version of the flag is entirely my reconstruction and not based on firm evidence. It seems that the vertical versions are used even in cases when the technice of flag hoisting would ask for a horizontal flag (i.e. on a "standard" flag pole, or on slanted pole on buildings, beside the state flag). This practuce is probably supported not only by legal part (the Decision), but is much cheeper to produce the flam flag for all occasions.
I must take a look at some previously wrongly reported flag designs . They are all errorneus - both yellow-white horizontal bicolour, and verious striped versions of different number of stripes. Those reports were made based on quick spotting in TV reports of the flag in wind, and no wander that they are contradictory. (Actually, one I posted also 7- striped version, which is closest to the fact, even if then I did not include the tongues).
1. Atlagic, M: Grbovi plemstva u Slavoniji 1700-1918, Zrinski, Cakovec, 1982.
2. Lazsowski, E.: Grbovnice hrvatskih zupanija, Starine, JAZU, knjiga XXIX, pp. 217-221, Zagreb 1898.
3. Odluka o grbu i zastavi Zupnaije Vukovarsko-srijemske, Vinkovci, 6. kolovoza 1993. (Decision on the coat of arms and the flag of the County of Vukovar and Srijem, 6-AUG-1993)
4. Rjesenje Ministarsva uprave, Kl: UP/I-017-02/93-01/12, Ur. br. 515- 04-03/1-93-2, Zagreb, 8 rujna 1993 (Approval from Ministry of Administration, 8-SEP-1993).
Željko Heimer, 31 July 1999

My trip to Vukovar yesterday revealed something that I was suspecing for the long time, but I had not written confirmation or reliable reports on the actual use. Namely, the county decisions on the flag of 1993 describe only the vertical flag that include four rectangular tails, in overall ratio 21:43 (i.e. 105 cm x 200 cm plus 15 cm square tails). The horizontal flag is not mentioned. However, the flags in use today in Vukovar are both these vertical flags (which do show considerably wear and tear, so must have been haging there for years) as well as the usual horizontal flags (that are obviously very new and I do not believe that they have been around for the last winter). These new flags are in ratio 1:2, and the coat of arms is rotated as usual for horizontal flags. Beside these flags, it seems that in vukovar are popular long vertical flags, similar to Knatterfahnen, attached to the mast along the long edge, with ratio (I estimate) 4:1. In several spots these flags were hoisted - the flag of Croatia and the flag of Vukovar (BWB trinad with Coat of Arms), on these two together with the County flag.
Željko Heimer, 26 June 2004

The designer of the modern solution of the coat of arms and the flag is Dubravko Matakovic, academic painter; based on the historical pattern. Matakovic is rather famous for his peculiar artistic style in comics that is very popular (You may want to take a look at his web site at <>. No imidiate flag contents there, but you may see some very funny drawings).  By the way, when you check those comics, you may be surprised how heraldically correct the Coat of Arms came out after all.
Željko Heimer, 16 January 2005

I received answer to my e-mail to Dubravko, very kindly... Indeed the designer of the two flags in 1993 was one and the same artist who is also the famous comics artist. He has been commisioned to prepare the modernized versions of the Coat of Arms of the Vukovar-Srijem County and the city of Vinkovci (that were the temporarily capital of the county while Vukovar was occupied 1990-1995). He did that without interfering much into the historical patters he had, but it was apparently his idea to change the cypress (or poplar) into an oak, which is indigineous, while the other is not. He was asked to do the flags too. The guidelines he received was to make the city flag "similar to Bavarian" but with golden and silver lozenges, so he came out with the adopted design. Also he then decided the striped flag for the county to be kind of similar. As he admits, he had no previous knolage of vexillology or the flag design, and considering, it came out very nice - certainly these are among more interesting local flags in Croatia (approved before the ministry prescribed the one-coloured rule for the civic flags in 1994...).
Željko Heimer, 16 January 2005

Horizontal Variant

image by Željko Heimer, 26 June 2004

Coat of Arms

image by Željko Heimer