The flag of Germany (german: Flagge Deutschlands) is a tricolour
consisting of three equal horizontal bands displaying the national colours of Germany
, and gold
). The flag was first sighted in 1848 in the German Confederation
; with it being officially adopted as the national flag of the Weimar Republic
from 1919 to 1933, and again being in use since its reintroduction in West Germany
back in 1949.
Since the mid-19th century, Germany has two competing traditions of national colours, black-red-gold and black-white-red. Black-red-gold were the colours of the 1848 Revolutions
, the Weimar Republic
of 1919–1933 and the Federal Republic (since 1949). They were also adopted
by the German Democratic Republic
(1949–1990) (albeit defaced
with its "socialist" coat of arms
from 1959 until reunification in 1990).
The colours black-white-red appeared for the first time in 1867, in the constitution of the North German Confederation. This nation state for Prussia and other north and central German states was expanded to the south German states in 1870–71, under the name German Empire
. It kept these colours until the revolution of 1918–19. Thereafter, black-white-red became a symbol of the political right. The national socialists (Nazi Party) re-established these colours along with the party's own swastika flag
in 1933. After World War II, black-white-red was still used by some conservative groups or by groups of the far right
– as it is not forbidden, unlike proper national socialist symbols
Black-red-gold is the official flag of the Federal Republic of Germany. As an official symbol of the constitutional order, it is protected against defamation
. According to §90 of the German penal code, the consequences are a fine or imprisonment up to five years.
The German association with the colours black
, and gold
surfaced in the radical 1840s, when the black-red-gold flag was used to symbolise the movement against the Conservative Order
, which was established in Europe
after Napoleon's defeat.
There are many theories in circulation regarding the origins of the colour scheme used in the 1848 flag. It has been proposed that the colours were those of the Jena Students' League (), one of the radically-minded banned by in the Carlsbad Decrees
. The colours are mentioned in their canonical order in the seventh verse of August Daniel von Binzer
's student song ("On the Dissolution of the Jena Students' League") quoted by in his ''Academic Festival Overture
''. Another claim goes back to the uniforms (mainly black with red facings and gold buttons) of the Lützow Free Corps
, which had mostly university students and was formed during the struggle against the occupying forces of Napoleon. Whatever the true explanation, those colours soon came to be regarded as the national colours of Germany during that brief period. Especially after their reintroduction during the Weimar period
, they have become synonymous with liberalism
in general. The colours also appear in the mediaeval .
The German national flag
or (), containing only the black-red-gold tricolour, was introduced as part of the (West) German constitution
Following the creation of separate government and military flags in later years, the plain tricolour is now used as the German civil flag
and civil ensign
. This flag is also used by non-federal authorities to show their connection to the federal government, e.g. the authorities of the German states
use the German national flag together with their own flag
The government flag
of Germany is officially known as the (state flag of the federal authorities) or for short. Introduced in 1950, the government flag is the civil flag defaced
with the ("Federal Shield"), which overlaps with up to one fifth of the black and gold bands.
The is a variant of the coat of arms of Germany
, whose main differences are the illustration of the eagle and the shape of the shield: the is rounded at the base, whereas the standard coat of arms is pointed.
The government flag may only be used by federal government authorities and its use by others is an offence, punishable with a fine. However, public use of flags similar to the (e.g. using the actual coat of arms instead of the ) is tolerated, and such flags are sometimes seen at international sporting events.
In addition to the normal horizontal format, many public buildings in Germany
use vertical flag
s. Most town halls fly their town flag together with the national flag in this way; many town flags in Germany exist only in vertical form. The proportions of these vertical flags are not specified. In 1996, a layout for the vertical version of the government flag was established, that coincidentally matched the pattern of the "conventional" black-red-gold flag of the Principality of Reuss-Gera
() from 1806 to 1918: the is displayed in the centre of the flag, overlapping with up to one fifth of the black and gold bands.
When hung like a banner or draped, the black band should be on the left, as illustrated. When flown from a vertical flagpole, the black band must face the staff.
Since the German armed forces () are a federal authority, the is also used as the German war flag
on land. In 1956, the (Flag of the German Navy
) was introduced: the government flag ending in swallowtail
This naval flag is also used as a navy jack
Article 22 of the German constitution, the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany
The federal flag shall be black, red and gold.
[Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany (23 May 1949)]
English version (December 2000) (PDF)
See Article 22. Retrieved on 24 February 2008.
Following specifications set by the West German government in 1950, the flag displays three bars of equal width and has a width–length ratio of 3:5;
the tricolour used during the Weimar Republic had a ratio of 2:3.
At the time of the adoption of the flag there were no exact colour specifications other than ''"Black-Red-Gold''".
However on 2 June 1999, the federal cabinet
introduced a corporate design
for the German government which defined the specifications of the official colours as:
rarely distinguishes between gold and yellow; in heraldry
, they are both ''Or
''. For the German flag, such a distinction is made: the colour used in the flag is called gold, not yellow.
When the black–red–gold tricolour was adopted by the Weimar Republic as its flag, it was attacked by conservatives
, and the far right
, who referred to the colours with spiteful nicknames such as (black–red–yellow) or even (black–red–mustard).
When the Nazis came to power in 1933, the black–white–red colours of pre-1918 Imperial Germany were swiftly reintroduced, and their propaganda machine continued to discredit the , using the same derogatory terms as previously used by the monarchists.
On 16 November 1959, the Federal Court of Justice
() stated that the usage of "black–red–yellow" and the like had "through years of Nazi agitation, attained the significance of a malicious slander against the democratic symbols of the state" and was now an offence.
[ Federal Court of Justice of Germany (16 November 1959). 3 StR 45/59.]
As summarised by heraldist Arnold Rabbow in 1968, "the German colours are black–red–yellow but they are called black–red–gold."
Following federal decree
on 22 March 2005, the flag must be flown from public buildings on the following dates. Only 1 May and 3 October are public holidays.
Election days for the Bundestag
and the European Parliament
are also flag days in some states, in addition to other state-specific flag days. The public display of flags to mark other events, such as the election of the president
or the death of a prominent politician (whereupon flags would be at half-staff), can be declared at the discretion of the Federal Ministry of the Interior
When flags are required to be flown at half-staff, vertical flags are not lowered. A black mourning ribbon is instead attached, either atop the staff (if hung from a pole) or to each end of the flag's supporting cross-beams (if flown like a banner).
The Holy Roman Empire
(800/962 – 1806, known as the ''Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation'' after 1512) did not have a national flag, but black and gold were used as colours of the Holy Roman Emperor
and featured in the imperial banner: a black eagle
on a golden background. After the late 13th or early 14th century, the claws and beak of the eagle were coloured red. From the early 15th century, a double-headed eagle
Principality of Reuss-Greiz
When Heinrich XI, Prince Reuss of Greiz
was appointed by Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor
to rule the then-new Principality of Reuss-Greiz
on 12 May 1778, the flag adopted by the ''Fürstentum Reuß-Greiz'' was the first-ever appearance of the black-red-gold tricolour in its modern arrangement in any sovereign state within what today
comprises Germany – the Reuss elder line that ruled the principality used a flag whose proportions were close to a "nearly square"-shape 4:5 hoist/fly
ratio, instead of the modern German flag's 3:5 figure.
In 1804, Napoleon Bonaparte
declared the First French Empire
. In response to this, Holy Roman Emperor Francis II
of the Habsburg dynasty
declared his personal domain to be the Austrian Empire
and became Francis I of Austria. Taking the colours of the banner of the Holy Roman Emperor, the flag of the Austrian Empire was black and gold. Francis II was the last Holy Roman Emperor, with Napoleon forcing the empire's dissolution in 1806. After this point, these colours continued to be used as the flag of Austria
The colours red and white were also significant during this period. When the Holy Roman Empire took part in the Crusades
, a war flag
was flown alongside the black-gold imperial banner. This flag, known as the "Saint George Flag", was a white cross on a red background: the reverse of the St George's Cross
used as the flag of England
, and similar to the flag of Denmark
Red and white were also colours of the Hanseatic League
(13th–17th century). Hanseatic trading ships were identifiable by their red-white pennants, and most Hanseatic cities adopted red and white as their city colours (see Hanseatic flags
). Red and white still feature as the colours of many former Hanseatic cities such as Hamburg
With the end of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, many of its dukes and princes joined the Confederation of the Rhine
, a confederation of Napoleonic client states. These states preferred to use their own flags. The confederation had no flag of its own; instead it used the blue-white-red flag of France
and the Imperial Standard of its protector, Napoleon
During the Napoleonic Wars
, the German struggle against the occupying French forces was significantly symbolised by the colours of black, red, and gold, which became popular after their use in the uniforms of the Lützow Free Corps
, a volunteer unit of the Prussian Army
. This unit had uniforms in black with red facings and gold buttons. The colour choice had pragmatic origins, even though black-red-gold were the former colours used by the Holy Roman Empire.
At the time, the colours represented:
Members of the corps were required to supply their own clothing: in order to present a uniform appearance it was easiest to dye all clothes black. Gold-coloured buttons were widely available, and pennon
s used by the lancer
s in the unit were red and black. As the members of this unit came from all over Germany and included a modest but well known number of university students and academics, the Lützow Free Corps and their colours gained considerable exposure among the German people.
The 1815–16 Congress of Vienna
led to the creation of the German Confederation
, a loose union of all remaining German states after the Napoleonic Wars. The Confederation was created as a replacement for the now-extinct Holy Roman Empire, with Francis I of Austria
—the last Holy Roman Emperor—as its president. The confederation did not have a flag of its own, although the black-red-gold tricolour is sometimes mistakenly attributed to it.
Upon returning from the war, veterans of the Lützow Free Corps founded the fraternity in Jena
in June 1815. The Jena eventually adopted a flag with three equal horizontal bands of red, black, and red, with gold trim and a golden oak branch across the black band, following the colours of the uniforms of the Free Corps.
The famous gymnast and student union (') founder Friedrich Ludwig Jahn
proposed a black-red-gold banner for the Burschen. Some members interpreted the colours as a rebirth of the Imperial black-yellow colours embellished with the red of liberty or the blood of war. More radical students exclaimed that the colours stood for the black night of slavery, the bloody struggle for liberty, and the golden dawn of freedom. In a memoir, Anton Probsthan of Mecklenburg, who served in the Lützow Free Corps, claimed his relative Fraulein Nitschke of Jena presented the Burschenschaft with a flag at the time of its foundation, and for this purpose chose the black-red-and-gold colours of the defunct secret society ''Vandalia''.
Since the students who served in the Lützow Free Corps came from various German states, the idea of a unified German state began to gain momentum within the and similar Burschenschaft that were subsequently formed throughout the Confederation. On 18 October 1817, the fourth anniversary of the Battle of Leipzig
, hundreds of fraternity members and academics from across the Confederation states met in Wartburg
(in modern Thuringia
), calling for a free and unified German nation.
The gold-red-black flag of the Jena featured prominently at this Wartburg festival
. Therefore, the colours black, red, and gold eventually became symbolic of this desire for a unified German state. The Ministerial Council of the German Confederation, in its determination to maintain the status quo, enacted the Carlsbad Decrees
of 1819 that banned all student organisations, officially putting an end to the .
In May 1832, around 30,000 people demonstrated at the Hambach Festival
for freedom, unity, and civil rights. The colours black, red, and gold had become a well established symbol for the liberal, democratic and republican movement within the German states since the Wartburg Festival, and flags in these colours were flown en masse at the Hambach Festival. While contemporary illustrations showed prominent use of a gold-red-black tricolour (an upside-down version of the modern German flag), surviving flags from the event were in black-red-gold. Such an example is the , the flag flown from Hambach Castle
during the festival: a black-red-gold tricolour where the red band contains the inscription (Germany's rebirth). This flag is now on permanent display at the castle.
Revolution and the Frankfurt Parliament
In the Springtime of the Peoples
during the Revolutions of 1848
, revolutionaries took to the streets, many flying the tricolour. The Confederation's Bundestag, alarmed by the events, hasted to adopt the tricolour (March 9th, 1848). Liberals took power and made the Bundestag call for general elections for a German parliament, the national assembly. This Frankfurt Parliament
declared the black-red-gold as the official colours of Germany and passed a law stating its civil ensign was the black-red-yellow tricolour.
Also, a naval war ensign used these colours.
In May 1849, the larger states actively fought the revolution and the Frankfurt parliament. In late 1850, the German Confederation
was definitely restored under Austrian-Prussian leadership. The tricolour remained official but was no longer used before 1863 at a conference of the German governments. Afterwards, the most pressing issue was whether or not to include Austria in any future German nation, as Austria's status as a multi-ethnic empire complicated the dream of a united Greater Germany—the solution. Alternatively, there was the (Lesser German) solution for a Germany that encompassed only German lands and excluded Austria. The Prussian–Austrian duality within the Confederation eventually led to the Austro-Prussian War
in 1866. During the war, the southern states allied with Austria adopted the black-red-gold tricolour as their flag, and the 8th German Army Corps also wore black-red-gold armbands.
The Kingdom of Prussia
and its predominately north German allies defeated Austria and made way for the realisation of the Lesser German solution a few years later.
North German Confederation and the German Empire (1867–1918)
Following the dissolution of the German Confederation, Prussia formed its unofficial successor, the North German Confederation
, in 1866 with the signing of the Confederation Treaty
in August 1866 and then the ratification of the Constitution of 1867
. This national state consisted of Prussia, the largest member state, and 21 other north German states.
The question regarding what flag should be adopted by the new confederation was first raised by the shipping sector and its desire to have an internationally recognisable identity. Virtually all international shipping that belonged to the confederation originated from either Prussia or the three Hanseatic city-states of Bremen
, and Lübeck
. Based on this, Adolf Soetbeer
, secretary of the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce, suggested in the on 22 September 1866 that any planned flag should combine the colours of Prussia
(black and white) with the Hanseatic colours
(red and white). In the following year, the constitution of the North German Confederation
was enacted, where a horizontal black-white-red tricolour was declared to be both the civil and war ensign.
[ See Article 55.]
King Wilhelm I of Prussia
was satisfied with the colour choice: the red and white were also taken to represent the Margraviate of Brandenburg
, the Imperial elector state
that was a predecessor of the Kingdom of Prussia.
The absence of gold from the flag also made it clear that this German state did not include the "black and gold" monarchy of Austria. In the Franco-Prussian War
, the remaining southern German states allied with the North German Confederation, leading to the unification of Germany
. A new constitution of 1871 gave the federal state the new name of German Empire and the Prussian king the title of Emperor. The German Empire
retained black, white, and red as its national colours.
[ See Article 55.]
An ordinance of 1892 dealt with the official use of the colours.
The black-white-red tricolour remained the flag of Germany until the end of the German Empire in 1918, in the final days of World War I
Weimar Republic (1918–1933)
Following the declaration of the German republic in 1918 and the ensuing revolutionary period
, the so-called Weimar Republic
was founded in August 1919. To form a continuity between the anti-autocratic movement of the 19th century and the new democratic republic, the old black-red-gold tricolour was designated as the national German flag in the Weimar Constitution
[ See Article 3.]
Only the tiny German principalities of Reuss-Greiz
– where the use and layout of the ''schwarz-rot-gold'' design had originated some 140 years earlier –, Reuss-Gera
and its republican successor
had upheld the 1778-established tradition, and had always continued to use the German colours of black
, and or
(gold) in their flag. As a civil ensign, the black-white-red tricolour was retained, albeit with the new tricolour in the top left corner.
This change was not welcomed by many people in Germany, who saw this new flag as a symbol of humiliation following Germany's defeat in the First World War. In the , the old colours continued to be used in various forms. Many conservatives wanted the old colours to return, while monarchists and the far right were far more vocal with their objections, referring to the new flag with various derogatory names (''see Colour
above''). As a compromise, the old black-white-red flag was reintroduced in 1922 to represent German diplomatic missions abroad.
The symbols of Imperial Germany became symbols of monarchist and nationalist protest and were often used by monarchist and nationalist organisations (e.g. ''Der Stahlhelm, Bund der Frontsoldaten
''). This included the (war flag of the Reich), which has been revived in the present for similar use. Many nationalist political parties during the Weimar period—such as the German National People's Party
(see poster) and the National Socialist German Workers Party
(Nazi Party)—used the imperial colours, a practice that has continued today with the National Democratic Party of Germany
On 24 February 1924, the organisation was founded in Magdeburg
by the member parties of the Weimar Coalition
) and the trade union
s. This organisation was formed to protect the fragile democracy of the Weimar Republic, which was under constant pressure by both the far right and far left. Through this organisation, the black-red-gold flag became not only a symbol of German democracy, but also of resistance to political extremism. This was summarised by the organisation's first chairman, Otto Hörsing
, who described their task as a "struggle against the swastika
and the Soviet star
In the face of the increasingly violent conflicts between the communists and Nazis, the growing polarisation of the German population and a multitude of other factors, mainly the drastic economic sinking, extreme hyperinflation and corruption of the republic, the Weimar Republic collapsed in 1933 with the Nazi seizure of power () and the appointment of Adolf Hitler
as German chancellor
Nazi Germany and World War II (1933–1945)
was the co-official national flag along with the tricolour flag (1933–1935).]]
After the Nazi Party
came to power on 30 January 1933, the black-red-gold flag was swiftly scrapped; a ruling on 12 March established two legal national flags: the reintroduced black-white-red imperial tricolour and the flag of the Nazi Party.
On 15 September 1935, one year after the death of Reich President Paul von Hindenburg
and Hitler's elevation to the position of ''Führer
'', the dual flag arrangement was ended, with the exclusive use of the Nazi flag as the national flag of Germany
. One reason may have been the "''Bremen''
incident" of 26 July 1935, in which a group of demonstrators in New York City boarded the ocean liner SS ''Bremen'', tore the Nazi Party flag from the jackstaff
, and tossed it into the Hudson River
. When the German ambassador protested, US officials responded that the German national flag had not been harmed, only a political party symbol. The new flag law
was announced at the annual party rally in Nuremberg, where Hermann Göring
claimed the old black-white-red flag, while honoured, was the symbol of a bygone era and under threat of being used by "reactionaries".
[Statement by Hermann Göring, quoted in the (17 September 1935) (in German)]
The design of the Nazi flag was introduced by Hitler as the party flag in mid-1920, roughly a year before (29 July 1921) he became his political party's leader: a flag with a red background, a white disk and a black swastika
in the middle. In ''Mein Kampf
'', Hitler explained the process by which the Nazi flag design was created: It was necessary to use the same colours as Imperial Germany, because in Hitler's opinion they were "revered colours expressive of our homage to the glorious past and which once brought so much honour to the German nation." The most important requirement was that "the new flag ... should prove effective as a large poster" because "in hundreds of thousands of cases a really striking emblem may be the first cause of awakening interest in a movement." Nazi propaganda clarified the symbolism of the flag: the red colour stood for the social, white for the movement's national thinking and the swastika for the victory of Aryan humanity and the victory of productive humanity.
An off-centred disk version of the swastika flag was used as the civil ensign on German-registered civilian ships and was used as the jack on (the name of the German Navy
, 1933–1945) warships. The flags for use on sea had a through and through
image, so the "left-facing" and "right-facing" version were each present on one side while the national flag was right-facing on both sides.
From 1933 to at least 1938, the Nazis sometimes "sanctified" swastika flags by touching them with the (blood flag), the swastika flag used by Nazi paramilitaries during the failed Beer Hall Putsch
in 1923. This ceremony took place at every Nuremberg Rally
. It is unknown whether this tradition was continued after the last Nuremberg rally in 1938.
At the end of World War II
, the first law enacted by the Allied Control Council
abolished all Nazi symbols and repealed all relevant laws. The possession of swastika flags is forbidden in several countries
since then, with the importation or display of them forbidden particularly in Germany
After World War II (1945–1949)
After the defeat of Germany in World War II, the country was placed under Allied administration
. Although there was neither a national German government nor a German flag, German ships were required by international law to have a national ensign of some kind. As a provisional civil ensign of Germany, the Council
designated the international signal pennant Charlie
representing the letter C ending in a swallowtail
, known as the C-Pennant (). The Council ruled that "no ceremony shall be accorded this flag which shall not be dipped
in salute to warships or merchant ships of any nationality". Similarly, the Japanese civil ensign
used immediately following World War II was the signal pennant for the letter E ending in a swallowtail, and the Ryūkyūan civil ensign
was a swallowtailed letter D signal pennant.
West of the Oder–Neisse line
, the German states were reorganised along the lines of the zones of occupation
, and new state governments were established. Within the American zone, the northern halves of the former states of Württemberg
were merged to form Württemberg-Baden
in 1946. As its flag, Württemberg-Baden adopted the black-red-gold tricolour. The choice of these colours was not based on the historical use of the tricolour, but the simple addition of gold to Württemberg's colours of red and black. Coincidentally, Baden's colours were red and yellow, so the colour choice could be mistaken for a combination of the two flags. In 1952, Württemberg-Baden became part of the modern German state of Baden-Württemberg
, whose flag is black and gold.
Two other states that were created after the war, Rhineland-Palatinate
(French zone) and Lower Saxony
(British zone), chose to use the black-red-gold tricolour as their flag, defaced with the state's coat of arms. These two states were formed from parts of other states, and no colour combinations from these previous states were accepted as a new state flag. This led to the use of the black-red-gold for two reasons: the colours did not relate particularly to any one of the previous states, and using the old flag from the Weimar Republic was intended to be a symbol of the new democracy.
Divided Germany (1949–89)
With relations deteriorating between the Soviet Union
and the United States
, the three western Allies met in March 1948 to merge their zones of occupation and allow the formation of what became the Federal Republic of Germany, commonly known as West Germany
. Meanwhile, the eastern Soviet zone became the German Democratic Republic, commonly known as East Germany
During the preparation of the new constitution for West Germany, discussions regarding its national symbols took place in August 1948 during a meeting at Herrenchiemsee
. Although there were objections to the creation of a national flag before reunification with the east, it was decided to proceed. This decision was primarily motivated by the proposed constitution by the eastern SED
in November 1946, where black-red-gold were suggested as the colours for a future German republic.
thumb|left|150px|upright|GDR flag at a 1955 boxing international
While there were other suggestions for the new flag for West Germany,
the final choice was between two designs, both using black-red-gold. The Social Democrats
proposed the re-introduction of the old Weimar flag, while the conservative parties such as the CDU
and the German Party
proposed a suggestion by Josef Wirmer, a member of the (parliamentary council) and future advisor of chancellor Konrad Adenauer
. Wirmer suggested a variant of the 1944 "Resistance" flag (using the black-red-gold scheme in a Nordic Cross
pattern) designed by his brother and 20 July
The tricolour was ultimately selected, largely to illustrate the continuity between the Weimar Republic and this new German state. With the enactment of the (West) German constitution
on 23 May 1949, the black-red-gold tricolour was readopted as the flag for the Federal Republic of Germany.
In 1955, the inhabitants of the French-administered Saar Protectorate
voted to join West Germany. Since its establishment as a separate French protectorate in 1947, the Saar had a white Nordic cross on a blue and red background
as its flag. To demonstrate the commitment of the Saar to be a part of West Germany, a new flag was selected on 9 July 1956: the black-red-gold tricolour defaced with the new coat of arms
, also proposed on this day. This flag came into force on 1 January 1957, upon the establishment of the Saarland
as a state of West Germany.
While the use of black-red-gold had been suggested in the Soviet zone in 1946, the Second People's Congress in 1948 decided to adopt the old black-white-red tricolour as a national flag for East Germany. This choice was based on the use of these colours by the National Committee for a Free Germany
a German anti-Nazi
organisation that operated in the Soviet Union
in the last two years of the war. In 1949, following a suggestion from Friedrich Ebert, Jr.
, the black-red-gold tricolour was instead selected as the flag of the German Democratic Republic upon the formation of this state on 7 October 1949.
[ See Article 2.]
From 1949 to 1959, the flags of both West and East Germany were identical. On 1 October 1959, the East German government changed its flag with the addition of its coat of arms
In West Germany, these changes were seen as a deliberate attempt to divide the two Germanies. Displaying this flag in West Germany and West Berlin—where it became known as the (divider-flag)—was seen as a breach of the constitution and subsequently banned until the late 1960s.
From 1956 to 1964, West and East Germany attended the Winter
and Summer Olympic Games
as a single team, known as the United Team of Germany
. After the East German national flag was changed in 1959, neither country accepted the flag of the other. As a compromise, a new flag was used by the United Team of Germany from 1960 to 1964, featuring the black-red-gold tricolour defaced
with white Olympic rings
in the red stripe. In 1968 the teams from the two German states entered separately, but both used the same German Olympic flag. From 1972 to 1988, the separate West and East German teams used their respective national flags.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall
in November 1989, many East Germans cut the coat of arms out of their flags, as Hungarians had done in 1956
and as Romanians
would soon do during the fall of Ceaușescu
. The widespread act of removing the coat of arms from the East German flag implied the plain black-red-gold tricolour as symbol for a united and democratic Germany. Finally, on 3 October 1990, as the area of the German Democratic Republic was absorbed into the Federal Republic of Germany, the black-red-gold tricolour became the flag of a reunified Germany
. In 1998, the Foundation for the Reappraisal of the SED Dictatorship
was formed. The duty of this organisation, directly responsible to the federal government, is to examine the consequences of the former East German regime. As its logo, the foundation used an East German flag with the Communist coat of arms cut out.
The old black-white-red tricolour of the German Empire is still used by monarchist
s and those members of German royalty who long for the peaceful reintroduction of a German democratic monarchy.
of monarchist organisation . See German section for more detailed text. Retrieved on 24 February 2008.
This use of the old flag is almost completely overshadowed by its prevalent use by the far right; since the aforementioned ban on all Nazi symbolism
(e. g. the swastika), the ''Schutzstaffel
's'' (SS) double sig rune
, etc.) is still in effect within today's Germany, the far right have been forced to forego any Nazi flags and instead use the old imperial flag, which the Nazis themselves banned in 1935.
In Germany, the use of the flag and other national symbols has been relatively low for most of the time since the Second World War — a reaction against the widespread use of flags by the Nazi Party and against nationalistic fervour in general, especially that of the Nazis. During the 2006 FIFA World Cup
, which took place in Germany, public use of the national flag increased dramatically. This explosion in the flag's occurrence in day-to-day life was initially greeted by many Germans with a mixture of surprise and apprehension.
The decades-old fear that German flag-waving and national pride was inextricably associated with its Nazi past was dismissed by the end of the tournament by Germans and non-Germans alike.
As many Germans regarded showing the own flag as part of their support for the own team in the tournament, most flags disappeared after the end of a tournament, sometimes due to government decisions.
By the time of Germany's World Cup victory in 2014
, usage of the German flag increased periodically.
In the period that followed, the display of German flag colours, even outside stadiums, was regularly limited to the period of major sporting events.
With the rise of nationalist currents (Pegida
, etc.) and their showing of the German flag as a symbol of their nationalism, the flag again became more widespread in everyday life.
Mainstream society remains hesitant to use the colours, though.
* Coat of arms of Germany
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