Last modified: 2011-06-24 by german editorial team
Keywords: third reich | nationalsocialist | swastika (black) | hakenkreuz |
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image by Mark Sensen
Flag adopted March 1933 as co-national flag, September 1935 as national flag
Flags used between 1935-1945
The second period of Nazi era flags starts late in the year 1935. The popular mythology ascribes this to an incident which occurred in New York on 26 Jul 1935 in which a group of (allegedly Communist) demonstrators attacked the German liner Bremen and threw its Swastika flag in the river. When the German chargé d'affaires protested to the State Department, among the comments allegedly made, was that the national flag had not been interfered with, but only the party flag.
Personally, I doubt the importance of the incident in German flag history and prefer the explanation which notes that by 1935, [President von] Hindenburg was dead, the Army had come to terms with the Nazis and the German Nationals [Party] had ceased to be an important political factor.
In any event, in 1935 the Nazis again changed almost all of the German flags, specifically:
On 5 Oct 1935, some flags were adopted:
"The Nazi flag laws [were] the Law for the Protection of the National Symbols of 19 May 1933, and the Reich Flag Law [Reichsflaggengesetz] of 15th September 1935 (the Nuremberg Flag Law)...The Law for the Protection of the National Symbols had given powers to Goebbels as Reich Minister of Enlightenment and Propaganda to control flag usage, and the Reich Flag Law made the use of the national symbols more specific, established the swastika as the national flag and allowed for a new Reichskriegsflagge." Source: Flagmaster [flm] no. 078:
Mark Sensen, 14 Jan 1997
An English translation of the law is available in: "Nazi and Conspiracy Aggression Volume IV, Office of the United States Chief Counsel for Prosecution of Axis Criminality, Washington, DC : United States Government Printing Office, 1946."
The document is available at The Avalon Project at Yale Law School online.
[Translation of Document 2079-PS]
1935 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, Page 1145
Reich Flag Law, 15 Sep 1935
The Reichstag has unanimously ratified the following law which is hereby announced:
The colors of the Reich are black, white, and red.
The Reich and national flag is the swastika flag. It is also the merchant flag.
The Fuehrer and Reich Chancellor designates the design of the Reich War Flag and the Reich Service Flag.
The Reich Minister of the Interior releases the necessary legal and administrative regulations for the execution and completion of this law as long as it does not interfere with the jurisdiction of the Reich Minister of War.
This law becomes valid on the day of announcement.
Nurnberg 15 Sep 1935, on the Reichparteitag of Freedom
Adolf Hitler - The Fuehrer and Reich Chancellor
Frick - The Reich Minister of the Interior
Von Blomberg - The Reich Minister of War and Supreme Commander of the Wehrmacht
Ivan Sache, 24 Nov 2005
Images by Mark Sensen
National- und Handelsflagge / Hakenkreuzfahne, also Jack. This flag is unchanged from [the] 1933 swastika flag and became the national and merchant flag, replacing the black-white-red tricolor. The same pattern was also used as jack, replacing the 1933 jack. This can be found in countless books, the best for exactness being Flaggenbuch 1939 [neu39],
plate II under Deutsches Reich, which contains exact proportions.
As the merchant flag and jack, the white disk was placed somewhat closer
to the hoist.
Norman Martin, Jan 1998