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Socialist Yugoslavia (1945-1991)

Last modified: 2006-07-22 by ivan sache
Keywords: yugoslavia | coat of arms: yugoslavia | star (red) | torches: 5 (red) | torches: 6 (red) | civil ensign |
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[Federal Peoples' Republic of Yugoslavia]

Flag of Socialist Yugoslavia - Image by Željko Heimer, 19 November 1997

See also:


The successive names of the so-called "Socialist Yugoslavia" were:

  • Democratic Federative Yugoslavia, until 1946;
  • Federative People's Republic of Yugoslavia (Federativna Narodna Republika Jugoslavija), until 1963;
  • Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia (Socijalistiška Federativna Republika Jugoslavija) until 1991.

Flags to be used on land all had 1:2 proportion, whereas those for use at sea were 2:3. Most of them were based on former national flags, removing the national emblem in the middle and putting the star instead of it.
The blue-white-red flag was invented after the First World War, as the only heraldically correct combination of these colours not previously used. Red-white-blue was the other acceptable combination, but was then already long established as the Croatian flag.

Smith [smi75c] claims that the flag with the red star has been used since September 1941. I believe it has been used since July when the uprising started. However, until 1946, the star was (usually) just in the white field, in the "inner diameter equals outer radius" version, and without the yellow fimbriation. The version with the yellow outlined red star was officially adopted on 31 January 1946 and abandoned in the spring of 1991. The flags of the Federal Republics with stars were made a year later (1947).

Željko Heimer, 19 November 1997

National flag of Yugoslavia

The new Constitution of Yugoslavia was adopted on 31 January 1946, as well as the new national flag. This flag was not changed until the early 1990s when the state fell apart.

[Construction sheet for the flag]

Construction sheet for the flag of Yugoslavia - Image by Željko Heimer, 19 November 1997

The star is inscribed in an imaginary circle with diameter 2/3 of the flag length and with the center matching the crossing points of the diagonals of the flag (i.e., the center of the flag). In this way the top point of the star would reach exactly the middle of the blue stripe, while the lower two points would not reach that far, but accordingly less. The width of the yellow fimbriation was never explicitely defined. The flag proportion is 1:2.

The flag was designed by Đorđe Andrejević-Kun. According to Marijan Grakalić's Hrvatski grb (NZMH, Zagreb, 1990), referring to Enciklopedija Jugoslavije (1980), it is supposed that Andrejević-Kun and A. Augustinčić are the authors of the coat of arms of Yugoslavia and that Kun might be the author of the coat of arms of the republics.

Officially, this flag was for use by government and army on land, but practically it was also used by civilians as the national flag.

Source: Pomorska enciklopedija VII: Zastava, Jugoslavenski leksikografski zavod, Zagreb, 1964

Željko Heimer, 19 November 1997

Coat of arms

[Coat of arms, 1946]      [Coat of arms, 1963]

Coat of arms of Yugoslavia - Images by Željko Heimer, 25 October 2003
Left, first version, 1946-1963
Right, second version, 1963-1991

The coat of arms of the new state was designed by the artist Đorđe Andrejević-Kun around 1943, with the date of the Jajce conference added after it. It was officially adopted only in the 1946 Constitution, with a slightly different artistic representation.
The silver circular shield was as a rule omitted, especially in the latter time, but the Yugoslav heraldists (e.g,. Miloš Cirić, in Heraldika 1, Belgrade, 1988) claim that it was an essential part of the coat of arms.

Source: Symbol und Wirtschaft [suw50i]

In 1963 the name of the state was changed to Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia, just as all the people's republics forming it were renamed Socialist republics. Mainly due to the question of the Bosnian Muslims not being represented in the five torches representing the five Yugoslav nations, the number of the torches was increased to six, with a new meaning, which was the number of the constituent republics.
As for the first version, the silver circular shield was often omitted, even in official use, although the heraldists of the period insisted that it should be there.
The national flag was not changed, but the naval flags that included the coat of arms were modified.

Željko Heimer, 25 October 2003

Civil ensign

[Civil ensign]

Civil ensign of Yugoslavia - Image by Željko Heimer, 25 October 2003

The civil ensign is prescribed by the law on establishment of the merchant ensign and inland navigation ensign of FPRY (Zakon o ustanovljenju zastave trgovačke mornarice i brodarstva unutražnje plovidbe FNRJ), adopted on 21 March 1950 and published in Službeni list FNRJ 11/50. The ensign was prescribed to be similar to the national flag, but in proportion 2:3.
The civil ensign was used by all ships except those in military and border guard service, which included the other state services.

Source: Pomorska enciklopedija VII: Zastava, Jugoslavenski leksikografski zavod, Zagreb, 1964

Željko Heimer, 25 October 2003