Last modified: 2006-11-04 by jarig bakker
Keywords: deutsche demokratische republik | ddr |
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image by Jaume Ollé
Flag adopted 1st October 1959, abolished 3rd October 1990 (civil ensign 1973-1990)
From Myers 2001:
In 1949, two new German states arose and immediately laid claim to the same territory and to the best of the German political and cultural heritage. That shared heritage was subject to competing interpretations by the two regimes as they sought to shape public memory and identity in their quest for legitimation. By the late 1950s, the battles to reinterpret German national symbols frequently took place on the streets of Berlin, focal point of the contested German-German border, and in the arenas of international athletic competitions. (...)
Unwilling to signal the permanent division of Germany, the founders of the Federal Republic had declared that while Berlin remained the capital of "Germany," Bonn would serve as a provisional seat of government for the Federal Republic. Thus, both states acknowledged Berlin as the German capital but had vastly different interpretations of the city's meanings for German national identity. Nevertheless, in a rare spirit of cooperation, the officials of East and West Berlin agreed in 1956 to work together to restore the Brandenburg Gate. This cooperation disintegrated in 1958, however, when East Berlin's magistrates decided to restore the Quadriga statue without the Iron Cross on the goddess's staff. In the West, this act served as evidence of the Communists' disregard for the national heritage, whereas the uproar in the West further convinced the Communists that militarism was alive and well on the other side of the German-German border.
As tensions rose between the two Germanies, it became ever more important
for the Communists to distance themselves from the Federal Republic. By
1959, the GDR's leaders found it awkward to continue to share the tricolor
flag with the Federal Republic. For West German leaders, the tricolor represented
the liberal ideals of the nineteenth century, while for East German leaders
it stood for the German revolutionary tradition. Finally, the East German
regime sought to make visible its interpretation of the flag by superimposing
on it the Communists' state seal. This act led to street scuffles in Berlin,
and to West German diplomatic maneuvers aimed at prohibiting the "desecrated"
flag from flying at international sports events. Each side claimed a Cold
War victory whenever its position on the flag issue prevailed. Instead
of uniting the two Germanies, the use and interpretation of national symbols
drove them further apart.
Pascal Vagnat, 8 Nov 2001
Identical with the black-red-gold national flag of the Weimar
Republic. Because it was also adopted by the Federal
Republic, it was only in use from 1949 to 1959.
Norman Martin, Febr 1998
The first constitution of the German Democratic Republic (adopted when
the GDR was founded) did not mention a flag, just that the national colours
were black-red-gold. On 26 Sep 1955 the first flag law was adopted, which
described the flag as black-red-gold in equal stripes. Source: Schurdel
Mark Sensen, 21 Jun 2000
According to Rabbow 1970 the black-red-gold
flag of the German Democratic Republic was adopted 19 Mar 1949. On 26 Sep
1955 the flag, which was identical to the flag of the German
Federal Republic, was reaffirmed (Law on State Coat of Arms and State
flag). On 1 October 1959 the GDR government put the
Arms on the state flag.
Jarig Bakker, 21 Jun 2000
This flag was adopted on 1 Oct 1959, and continued in use as the flag
of East Germany until the reunification of the Germanies on 3 Oct 1990
- one year after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Ratio 3:5. The coat of arms
shows a hammer and compass in a ring of rye, symbolising the working class,
intelligentsia, and farmers.
Carl-Heinz Dirks, 12 Dec 1997
The black-red-gold with the arms (hammer and compass on a red disk surrounded
by a wreath of two ears of wheat) in the center slightly overlapping the
red stripe. In use as state flag 1959-1990, as merchant flag 1973-1990.
Norman Martin, Feb 1998
The coat of arms was added on 1 Oct 1959. At the beginning this flag
was called Spalterflagge. Source: Schurdel
Mark Sensen, 21 Jun 2000
Spalterflagge was by no means an official, but a highly pejorative
Western German term, as Spalter means trying to divide something
Stephan E, 6 Jan 2005
Like the 1959 State Flag, except the arms are 1/3
the height of the flag and set near the upper hoist, overlapping the black
and red stripes equally. In use 1959-1973.
Norman Martin, Feb 1998
During the 10th IAAF World Championships in Athletics - Helsinki 2005
I saw on TV in graphical sumaries of records the flag of East Germany with
vertical stripes next to the name of recordholder from former East Germany.
Petr Holas, 15 Aug 2005
Adopted 27 Oct 1955 and abolished 1 May 1973. Source: a paper by Emil
Dreyer in the Reports of the 15th International
Congress of Vexillology.
Norman Martin, 10 Dec 1999
The German Democratic Republic introduced a postal flag with the regulation
of 27 Sep 1955 (in force 27 Oct 1955). The flag had three equally wide
stripes (not a widened red stripe!) and post horn emblem similar, but not
identical to the one used in the West German
postal flag. The flag was abolished with the regulation of 23 Jan1973
(in force 1 May 1973). Sources: Pfriem 1996,
1999 and Hecker and Hoog 1978.
Marcus Schmöger, 29 Mar 2001
Over the past few days I have made some roundels which are not present
on FOTW. They are on this
Frank George Valoczy, 2 Jul 2003
The German Democratic Republic (G.D.R.) got her sovereignty in the airspace
in 1955. The aircraft marking was a rhombus with flag colors from the national
flag in vertical arrangement. The colors were separated by a white fimbration.
The rhombus had around a wide white hemline. In 1958 the hemline was changed
in black, the white fimbration continued. In 1959 the state coat of arms
was put on. The fimbration was abolished, the hemline remained black.
Upps! There were twelve reallity variants of the aircraft markings.
Jens Pattke, 2 Jul 2003
Let me list a few points I spotted back then (mainly southwest GDR 1981/2/3
and Berlin 1986):
- the flag of the Sorbs was (is) ethnical, not regional
- souvenir pennants of towns showing their arms (including one with historical Berlin variants) were on sale
- souvenir sheets, stickers and the like showing town arms were also on sale
- books and press articles discussing town and village arms appeared.
I gather the use of old regional flags (after all, the symbols of old age regimes) was forbidden after the establishment of the "Bezirke" (government districs). Examples: Brandenburg, Saxony.
Never have I seen any town flag. (Flags seen were GDR; red ones; other
socialist nations including North Korea; mass organizations such as FGDB
and DFD, plus museum items of course and the occasional hand waver.)
Jan Mertens, 1 Aug 2005
I have a West German book (Diercke Lexikon Deutschland) from
1988 about all counties in Germany. It does not show flags, but the Coats
of Arms of all counties, East Geman, too, including a description of them.
It is not a 100 % proof, but it looks like, there were official CoA for
J. Patrick Fischer, 1 Aug 2005
Some impressions I got from reading the books of Erwin Günther:
Municipal coats-of-arms were not infrequently used, but basically on a semi-official basis only, i.e. their use was not much endorsed by the central authorities (official seals had to show the GDR arms, anyway).
The same for flags, but because of the fact that municipal flags were not much used in Germany until around 1950, the municipal flags in the GDR were used rarely, and were pretty much unofficial. As the use of municipal flags was low anyway, there was no need for banning them (if anybody would have wanted this).
Certainly the situation was different for regional flags (i.e. basically the flags of 1945-1952 Länder). Although their use was discouraged, I do not know of any legal prescription officially banning them.
Marcus E.V. Schmöger, 10 Sep 2005