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Subnational Flags 1919-1935 (Germany)

Last modified: 2004-01-17 by
Keywords: weimar republic | subnational |
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Several states existed in the era of the so-called Weimar Republic. I include in this time all the states between the fall of the Empire and the start of the Third Reich (1918-1933). For some period during these years such states existed and had flags. Also the communist states had flags. (...) A few states existed for only around two years, in the confused era after the First World War (November 1918-1920).

Jaume Ollé, 24 August 1998

As for other Communist flags used in Germany around 1918-1919, the red flags never officially replaced the other flags. They were used during attempts to create Soviet-style states which, in some cases, co-existed for some times with the official governments.

Mario Fabretto (?), 24 August 1998

Terminology: Reich, Freistaat etc.

[Some German federal states] adopted the title Freistaat after the abdication of their monarchs in 1918-1919. They were however always intended to be states of the Deutsches Reich [official title] which in fact was the Weimar Republic. The German habit of using terms that suggest confederation or independence to describe federal arrangements and terms (e.g. Reich to describe a republic) confuses things.

Norman Martin, 9 February 2001

This can depend on the fact, that not all terms are directly interchangable between words in different languages. For instance, Reich does not mean a country which is a monarchy but an "(independent) country". Heiliger Römischer Reich is in English called Holy Roman Empire. If this would be translated "back" to German, it could become "Heiliger Römischer Kaiserreich". A Kaiserreich is an empire in the meaning "a country whose head of state is an emperor" [as happened with the German Empire 1871-1918].

Similarly, Freistaat was used as a synonym to Republik (republic). Literally, it means "free state", but this does not imply "independent state". What the state was "free" from, was a monarch. Compare also with the Irish Free State, which had the King of Great Britain as its head of state as it was a member of the Commonwealth, but was "free" from London's political influence.

Elias Granqvist, 10 February 2001

Reich in German means "a large/great country", nothing more, nothing less. Freistaat was a German translation for "republic" (source: Der Sprach-Brockhaus, 1951). Today there are still "free states" in Germany: Freistaat Bayern, Freistaat Sachsen etc. but nowadays the term Freistaat is used more as a title, I think. The meaning "free from a monarch" is quite correct, but today sometimes there is the impression (not only mine) that Bavaria took the title Freistaat Bayern to show or to suggest that in reality they feel free from the German federal government.

Ralf Stelter, 10 February 2001

German States, alphabetically

German States, by size

Ordered according to the Wahlen in der Weimarer Republik website (clickable map here):

I took this order from the official German statistical reviews e.g. the Statistisches Jahrbuch für das Deutsche Reich (Statistical Yearbook for Germany) or the official statistics of the Reichstagswahlen. There the states are obviously ordered by the number of inhabitants. So this has no relation to any status of the states (the official order of the states during the time of the German Empire was along the status, beginning with the kingdoms, the grand duchies and so on). E.g. according to the census of 1925, Anhalt was placed before Bremen, but the results of the next census placed Bremen before Anhalt and in the 1934's yearbook the official statistics took over this order.

Andreas Gonschior, 30 January 2002