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Dithmarschen County (Schleswig-Holstein, Germany)

Kreis Dithmarschen

Last modified: 2003-10-04 by
Keywords: schleswig-holstein | kreis dithmarschen | dithmarschen county | coat of arms (knight: yellow) | coat of arms (knight: horseback) | coat of arms (horse: white) | coat of arms (horse: comparisoned) | stripes: 7 (red- |
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[Dithmarschen County (Schleswig-Holstein, Germany)] 3:5 | stripes 2+1+2+1+2+1+2 ?
by Stefan Schwoon
Flag adopted 17th May 1972, coat-of-arms adopted 31st July 1971

See also:


The official description is in the Hauptsatzung (the statutes) of the county, found at the Dithmarschen official website:

Hauptsatzung des Kreises (...) vom 23. Januar 1998
§ 1
Wappen, Flagge, Siegel
(§ 12 KrO) (...)
(2) Das Kreiswappen zeigt in Rot auf silbernem galoppierendem Pferd mit goldenem Zaumzeug und blauer Satteldecke einen golden gerüsteten, sein silbernes Schwert über dem Kopf schwingenden Reiter mit silbernem Helmbusch.
(3) Die Kreisflagge zeigt im weißen Liek das Kreiswappen (mit Schild) sowie im roten fliegenden Ende drei weiße Balken.
A depiction of the flag is at this commercial webpage and a better illustration of the arms is at this webpage. Ralf Hartemink's International Civic Arms website, which I used as a basis for the arms, has the colors slightly wrong. Date of adoption: 17.05.1972, according to Dirk Schönberger's Administrative Divisions of the World website.

The rider is believed to be either a knight of Holstein or St. George, see the longer explanation (in German) in this webpage.

Dithmarschen used to be a sort of free peasants' state which for a long time retained independence from Holstein (Battle of Hemmingstedt, 1500) until it was finally conquered in 1559. It is interesting that the Dithmarschers still use these arms which were introduced by Holstein!

The fact that both the Lower Saxony arms and those of Dithmarschen feature a white jumping horse on a red field and the fact that Dithmarschen is geographically close to Lower Saxony might give rise to the idea that the arms are related, but I have found nothing to support this idea.

Stefan Schwoon, 31 January 2001

The relation of the flags of Dithmarschen and Steinburg with the former Royal Danish arms [shown at Arnaud Bunel's Héraldique européenne website] is not surprising since these areas were in the possesion of the Danish king for a long time, and the royal Danish arms featured the arms of Holstein, Stormarn and Dithmarschen. On a related note, the flag and arms of Celle has an even more striking relation to the Danish arms.

Stefan Schwoon, 5 February 2001

This webpage shows the Hauptsatzung texts on the county's arms and flag [with some changes and a more recent date]:

My translation:
The flag was adopted on 17th May 1972. The coat of arms was adopted on 30th July 1971.

Jens Pattke, 21 and 23 May 2001

These may be the latest formal adoptions of this coat of arms, but it is much older than that. This arms was part of the Danish royal arms centuries ago (in Danish the area is called Ditmarsken). According to Linder and Olzog 1996, p. 355, the arms with the knight were used for Dithmarschen for the first time in 1580. However, some minor details in the blazon seem to have changed since then. In 1848, a flag with this knight upon it was used by young Ditmarschians who wanted to cut Schleswig-Holstein away from the Danish crown.

Elias Granqvist, 25 May 2001

From Ralf Hartemink's International Civic Arms website:

The arms are identical to the [previously adopted] arms of Süderditmarschen and were granted on July 31, 1971. The arms were granted in 1963 [sic].

Ditmarschen [sic] was a free republic from the 13th until the 16th century. After the conquest in 1559 by Adolf of Gottorf, Duke of Holstein, his brother Johann of Haldersleben and his nephew King Frederick II of Denmark, Ditmarschen was split in Norder- and Süderditmarschen. Both new territories had until 1867 rather much political freedom. (...)

The knight in the present arms appeared [soon] after 1559 in the arms of the Dukes of Holstein for the new territory. It was not popular in Ditmarschen, as it showed a knight of Holstein. However, in the 18th century the governors of both Ditmarschens started to use the knight as a symbol. Finally in the 19th century it was adopted as the symbol of Ditmarschen by the population. Both counties started to use the knight in their seals in the 1930s.

Literature: Stadler 1964-1971 and Reissmann 1997.

Santiago Dotor, 23 October 2001