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Unidentified flags (Germany)

Last modified: 2009-11-21 by
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German tank flag

[German tank flag] image sent by Mary Oldring, 11 Oct 2002

Maybe you can help me. I don't know what this is called. This flag was removed from a German Tank in Holland during WWII.
Any info you might have would be gratefully appreciated.
Mary Oldring, 11 Oct 2002

I believe that the yellow flag with a blue cross found on a German tank is Swedish. Soldiers from Sweden was fighting on both sides in WW2, so the crew on that tank propebly was from Sweden. I have seen that flag as an alternative flag in Sweden before.
Ted Nordin, 24 Aug 2007

This is a pre-WWII German aircraft identification flag, based upon the Nationalist insignia of the Spanish Civil War.
It was used by ground units to help friendly aircraft identify vehicles readily from the air. Designed to be stretched over a flat area of the vehicle that faced upwards.
It was used in much the same manner as the “^” insignia was used by coalition forces in the Gulf War to prevent friendly units from being mistaken for the enemy.
Ken Bassford, 15 Oct 2009

flag used on military vehicles with "Balken-cross"

[flag used on military vehicles] image by Geir Stenshagen, 20 Aug 2004

Attached you can find a flag that my wife asked me about (her rough sketch, so the proportions might be off). One of her colleagues brought it to work, thinking it was a Danish flag (I'm Norwegian with Danish mother. I'm currently living in the US).
I know it's a flag from the Third Reich, and that it was used on military vehicles and must come from the iron cross. Was this something that was scrapped when they adapted to new regulations in 1935? I was not able to find it anywhere on your web page, and was wondering if you had more information about it. The flag seems to be handmade, and my guess is that it's probably a souvenir brought back by an American soldier. (it was found after they cleaned out a house where her old aunt used to live).
Geir Stenshagen, 20 Aug 2004

I seem to recall that it was an identification flag to be placed over panzer tanks for identification from the air, so that they weren't targetted by 'friendly fire'.
James Dignan, 21 Aug 2004

I recently received a WWII flag from a US serviceman who obtained it while fighting in the Battle of the Bulge (in Patton's 3rd army). It's approx. 5'x7', a thin
cotton, and the black cross is printed on white cloth. One side of the flag has an eyelet on each corner. The pattern is on one side only. I have had no success in
finding any likenesses on the web or in books. Would you have any idea as to the history and use of this design?
Grant Olson

My father was a B-17 pilot for the 351st Bomb Group out of Polebrook, England. He was shot down on 22 June, 1944, over Rouen, France and became a POW
at Stalag Luft III. As the allied forces advanced, they were marched to Mooseberg. In April, they were liberated by Patton's 3rd army. During this time in Germany,
he obtained a flag, that I have not been able to identify. It is approx. 3'x6' with a white circle with a black cross in the middle. The cross is similar to the marking
found on Me109 and Fw190 German fighters.
Rob, 7 Dec 2002

This flag was a typical WWII German airplane recognition symbol for tanks. This item was never used as flag, it was only used to save German tanks from friendly
fire. During the war there was also the "normal" swastika flag in use for airplane recognition on tanks.
Jörg M. Karaschewski, 23 Mar 2004

It appears that the long recurring mystery about this flag is solved, or starting to be. Up to now, we have had several reports of similar flag specimens, mostly from
the US. The fact that this flag is not documented in any source - at least none has been reported in FOTW - and that most reports came from people browsing or
moreover selling such an item in Internet (e.g., eBay) raised suspicion that it was a modern concoction of a flag which was never produced before 1945.

I came across the following in Roger James Bender and Warren W. Odegard, "Uniforms, Organization and History of the Panzertruppe", R. James Bender
Publishing, San Jose CA, 1980, p. 284:

     "In anticipation of recognition problems between the Army and Luftwaffe support units during the upcoming invasion of France and the Netherlands,
     the German General Staff issued the following order in March 1940 (3). "A swastika flag and orange smoke are to be utilized by all troops for
     recognition purposes when in a combat zone. The swastika flag is, according to circumstances, to be spread out on the ground, to be waved to and fro,
     or to be stretched across a vehicle. (...)
     "The swastika flag discussed above was either a standard national flag or a special issue flag with a metal grommet at each corner for tying down
     purposes. Later in the war, the use of the Balken cross flag (white circle with a Balken cross in its center rather than a swastika, on a red field)
     gradually replaced the swastika flag. It should be noted that these flags were rarely used in the final stages of the war because the Allies held undisputed
     air superiority over most fronts."

     Footnote (3) says: "(3) Ob.d.H./Gen.St.d.H./Ausb.Abt. (Ia) Nr. 450/40g vom 8.3.1940. This order was altered slightly by Order #363, dated April 2,
     1941, in AHM, April 21, 1941"

So it appears that the so-called Balken cross flag (a) actually did exist, though it was never hoisted as a proper flag, (b) its use started after the 1940 campaign in
France, possibly during or after the 1941 invasion of Russia and (c) was not used after, say, mid 1944. (This is probably a reason why Allied veterans could not
spot it after Normandy, except for those held as POWs at Stalag Luft camps.)
Santiago Dotor, 25 Mar 2004

[See also the discussion on this FOTW-page and this German page - Ed.]

old German flag

old German flag image by Michael Skowitz, 13 Feb 2003

I have a particular flag (3`x5`) that was given to me by a friend in the military who served in Germany, where he bought the flag. Neither he nor I know what it is but upon researching the FOTW site we have found that the black, white, red was the old German flag and the flag perhaps could be a reference to old Germany. The flag has a cross on it. I have recreated the flag, and enclosed in the email an image of it. I would be grateful of any help.
Michael Skowitz, 13 Feb 2003

It might be a proposal for a warflag of the North German Federation (Norddeutscher Bund) drawn by prince Adalbert. You can see five similar examples on p.65 of source but not this one.
source: Jörg-M. Hormann; Dominik Plaschke: "Deutsche Flaggen Geschichte, Tradition, Verwendung", Bielefeld/Hamburg 2006; ISBN 3-89255-555-5
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 12 June 2007


Uhlan-flag image sent by Bill Garrison, 24 Mar 2003

This is an original rare Prussian Royal Uhlan Flag as spotted on Ebay. There is written:
Original rare Prussian Royal Uhlan Flag (Unteroffiziersfahne) from 1917, the motiv on the flag shows the royal Eagle.
Soldiers on horseback from the Royal Uhlan Regiment (2nd Hannover) already carried this banner in the  time period from 1871 - 1920. The condition of the Uhlan-flag is very good, size approx. 70 x 35 cm with four fixing-eyes on the flag.
Bill Garrison, 24 Mar 2003

Prussian cuirasser NCO lance pennant

Prussian cuirasser NCO lance pennant image sent by Santiago Dotor, 10 Mar 2004

Looking for lance pennants (Polish vs. US cavalry) I found this website: "The Kürassier NCO's lance pennant is made from white linen with a printed Preußen [Prussian] Eagle. Enlisted lance pennants were made in the state colors. Only NCO pennants utilized the state Wappen [arms].
Bill Garrison, 24 Mar 2003

German environment flag from poster

German environment flag from poster image by J. Patrick Fischer, 29 Apr 2003

I found this flag on a poster in the German consulate of Guangzhou/PR China. I only know, that it was about a competition about environment.
J. Patrick Fischer, 29 Apr 2003

Thüringen Corps

[Thüringen Corps flag] image by David C Curran, 16 Jun 2003

I have been in Heidelberg Germany for over 15 years and just last week I saw a flag like the one attached. I thought it was the old Northern German Empire Flag but then it's just the same as the Kamchatka Territory (Russia) upside-down. It was displayed on a flagpole projecting from the building (ratio 3:2) and also banner style from a freestanding pole (ratio 5:2). The building had the sign: Thüringen Corps. I still am trying to find out what that is or who they are. It doesn't seem to be a new organization. What do you know?
David C Curran, 16 Jun 2003

There is most probably a totally different solution, and the four-coloured flag (yellow-red-black-yellow) was the one that pointed to that for me. These are flags of Burschenschaften/Studentenverbindungen (students' associations). As Heidelberg is an important university town, there are also a lot of these Burschenschaften around. Each of these have their colour combinations (two, three or four colours), including rare colours such as pink in many cases. These colour combinations are
displayed as sashes mainly, but also as striped flags on the buildings belonging to the Burschenschaft. The Burschenschaften had been playing an important role in German history (and the German flag's history) around 200 years ago. Nowadays they are basically small, unsignificant groups with (mostly) right-conservative, in some cases even right-radical, political opinion. There had been several scandals here in Munich and the rest of Bavaria with NPD members being also member of one of the Burschenschaften. Although most of them are just conservative and not radical, the distinction is not always easy.

The Studentenverbindung in this case is the "Corps Thuringia" (names are traditionally latinized, i.e. not "Thüringen" but "Thuringia"). see this website. On the website you see their coat-of-arms, that displays the colours black-red-white (bendwise) in one quarter, as well as in a pennant.
Marcus E.V. Schmöger, 16 Jun 2003

Flag on a painting

I have found a flag which I have been unable to indentify. It appears in the 1926 painting 'The Pillars Of Society' by George Grosz (a German Expressionist artist). It looks very similar to the North German Confederation / German Empire flag 1867-1918 except in the middle of the white stripe, it has a black stripe which extends from the left side to about the middle of the flag.
Kieran Ball, 19 Jun 2003

This could be the Naval Reserve Ensign (flown by merchant vessels commanded by Naval Reserve officers). It was a horizontal black-white-red tricolour with an Iron Cross at the hoist.
Miles Li, 19 Jun 2003

Cannabis / Hemp flag

[Cannabis / Hemp flag] image sent by Marcus Schmöger, 2 Sep 2003

In yesterday's newspaper (Süddeutsche Zeitung 1 Sep 2003, p. 39) there was a photo of a demonstration here in Munich (mainly organised by the Green party and its youth organization), pleading for the legalization of Cannabis / Hemp. The photo showed an interesting flag: on a field of interwoven green hemp leaves on white, a red disk with a bigger green hemp leave. Anybody knows this flag (inscription is "hemp", so I guess it might have appeared in some English-speaking countries).
Marcus Schmöger, 2 Sep 2003

German military pre-1919 UFE

[German military pre-1919 UFE] image sent by Shawn Tabor, 3 Dec 2003

I've attached a JPEG of a flag that I believe to be from the German military pre-1919. I was wondering if anyone there recognizes this flag and/or its history. Besides the cover of a predominant yellow field with a Black Cross with a circle in the middle and a hard to see design there is a black E in the upper right hand corner. Marked underneath the flag is 2.A.E.K.
Shawn Tabor, 3 Dec 2003

I have the original file (60 kB), if you want to try to see the "hard to see design". I am afraid on my laptop I cannot make out much of the design - perhaps a sheaf of wheat???
Rob Raeside, 4 Dec 2003

The flag might not be a military flag, although it slightly resembles the black cross on a silver background of a German military war ensign. I would rather suggest it might be the flag of a civil German shipping company, probably the name of the company starting with the letter E.
Nahne Bienk, 24 May 2008

We do not even know if it is German at all. We just have the guess of the original contributor.
Although the idea of it being some shipping company flag is not too far-fetched (and certainly more convincing than the "military flag" idea), I am a bit distracted by the inscription beneath the flag drawing (2.A.E.K.). The numbering certainly points in the military direction, the whole design not really, but rather in the shipping company or yacht club direction.
So unless someone comes up with a convincing idea, what 2.A.E.K. means, I'd suggest to move this UFE to a generic UFE page instead of the German one (we don't know if it is German, nor if it is military, nor if it is pre-1919).
Marcus E.V. Schmöger, 25 May 2008

At the bottom of the picture, the inscription "A.E.K." can be read. Well, "AEK Athens" is the name of a greek football team, whose colors are, curiously, yellow and black, as in the flag represented.
Maybe the meaning of this flag is completely different?
A. Parra, 24 Oct 2009

The soccer club was founded in 1924 and the German UFE dates back to 1919, thus it is improbable (if not impossible) for the Greek sport club AEK to have a flag prior to its foundation.
Esteban Rivera, 6 Nov 2009

Unknown German colonial flag

During my search for German colonial flags I found a picture with a flag like that one of the "Deutsch Ostafrikanische Gesellschaft" (German East-African Society). But this flag shows an emblem in the centre. Any idea to he origin of this flag?
Jörg Karaschewski, 13 Jan 2004

At first it would be useful to know, whether a photo or a painting would be the primary source. If it's a painting, it might show a fantasy flag created by the artist, who is granted his special freedom.
Though having problems with the resolution, I think that I have recognized the following elements: black centred cross, red canton with 5 white stars, in the centre within a black edged roundel the base of the badge of Togo (palm tree with two snakes).
According to Hormann/Plaschke and Schurdel the German colonial flags were just a bit more than proposals made by Dr. Wilhelm Solf (1862-1936) together with Johann Albrecht Duke of Mecklenburg (1857-1920). As Germany lost WWI it also lost its protectorates and the colonial flags had nearly no chance of ever being hoisted. The colonial flags however were black over white over red tricolours with the base of badges in the middle of the white stripe.
An (official) flag like that being depicted here seemed to have never existed.
According to both sources from above the depicted flag without the roundel was the flag of the German East Africa Company, according to Hormann/PLASCHKE also called "Petersflagge". These authors also claim, that there existed a German colonial movement after WWI targeting the regain of German protectorates. So that flag may be a propaganda flag of a section of this movement. If there were 4-point stars within the canton, the flag could be dated between 1933 and 1945. The NSDAP ordered 4-point stars for some reasons I don't know. I believe however that the image shows an example with 5-point stars.
Jörg-M. Hormann; Dominik Plaschke: "Deutsche Flaggen Geschichte, Tradition, Verwendung", Bielefeld/Hamburg 2006; ISBN 3-89255-555-5
Harry D. Schurdel: "Flaggen & Wappen Deutschland", Augsburg 1995; ISBN 3-89441-136-8; p.225ff.
Hormann /Plaschke also depict a coloured version of badge of Togo (white background, green elements). The description of the chiefs on p.87 however doesn't match the images on p.85. So this information might be doubtful.
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 12 June 2007

Red swallowtail with black eagle

[Red swallowtail with black eagle] image sent by James Dignan, 6 Nov 2005

A friend of mine just came back from a trip to Germany, and brought a couple of small handwaves back with him for my collection.
One of them has me puzzled. it may well be simply a mock "pseudo-flag" rather than being a replica of a real flag, but I thought I'd run it past the experts :). It's a red swallowtail with a very German-looking black eagle in the centre (imagine a Scandinavian-style state flag for German Albania, and you'll get the idea!).
James Dignan, 6 Nov 2005

This image of eagle is identical (only black and reversed) to a polish coat of arms of communist era (1945-90).
It's origin is from 1927. (Second Republic: crowned eagle); in 1945-90 period (People's Republic of Poland) eagle lost his crown; since 1990 (Third Republic) the crown has been restored.
The 1927 grafic form (as it's used today) author is professor Zygmunt Kaminski. I have no idea why polish-style (but black) eagle had been put on red flag (turned to fly-end) in Germany, but this grafic form of eagle is not used elswhere but only in Poland.
Maciej Borowski, 1 Dec 2007

Unknown Luftwaffe (?) Flag

[Unknown Nazi Flag] image sent by Pete Loeser, 12 May 2008

I have a flag that I cannot identify and it doesn’t seem to be on your website, at least anywhere I could find.  Its colors suggest German Air Force, but I couldn’t find anything that looked like it.
Obviously, it is some sort of Nazi flag.  It has been suggested to me that it is a Slavic Officer’s flag, or an Italian Nazi flag, but these were just guesses.  I haven’t had much luck identifying it.  Do you have anybody knowledgeable who might recognize it?
Pete Loeser, 12 May 2008

This is a complete guess, but the colours suggest Ukraine - possibly a Nazi occupation flag of some kind from the Ukraine or Carpatho-Ukraine? Or - perhaps more plausible - a flag of one of the Waffen-SS units made up of pro-Nazi (or, rather, anti-Soviet) Ukrainians?
James Dignan, 13 May 2008

...or Sweden.
Marc Pasquin, 14 May 2008

The flag's ID is as follows:
F22 Southern (Italian) Luftwaffe Command Flag
This is a version of one of the Luftwaffe standards that Goering used, the blue and gold colors indicate a southern or Italian theatre command. Mussolini's personal flag also reflected the blue and gold color scheme.
The flag's information was found here: .
Matt B., 17 Feb 2009

It is Luftwaffe Southern Command Flag (Fictitious).
This questionable replica flag claims to be a based on one of the Luftwaffe parade standards that Goering used. This is supposed to be the back side of the standard and used by either a southern or Italian theatre command. Another possible source is the parade dress uniform buckles of the Herman Goering Panzer unit. Modern replica flag manufacturers have released it and mistakenly calling it the "German Blue Ruck" and even as a "Slavic Officers Flag" in the modern 3x5' format. No real proof can be found that it ever really existed.
I found this out after consultation with Brian Davis (author of Flags of the Third Reich). I’m afraid the Matt B.’s identification is based on misinformation that I myself am responsible for.
Peter Loeser, 30 Mar 2009

Unknown table flag

[Unknown table flag] image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 4 Sep 2008

Description of flag: It is a table flag, a white over red horizontal bicolour. In the centre of the flag is a grey, masoned gate with an open door, eight windows and a triangular roof.
Source: I spotted this flag on 28 May 2004 in Hamburg St.Pauli

I’ve been trying to identify this flag for more than 4 years without any success. I spotted this flag in a pub in St.Pauli together with many houseflags of shipping companies. First I asked Josef Nüsse. He didn’t believe that this one could be a houseflag. He thought instead it might be a municipality flag. As some other German collegues also had no idea, let’s have a try on the UFE-list. I believe that the flag is about 60 years old. The colour of the gate might be “stone-grey”. As I have never before seen a flag with “stone-grey” figures that’s not for sure.
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 4 Sep 2008

Unknown yacht club pennant

[Unknown yacht club pennant] image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 10 Sep 2008

Description of pennant: It is a yellow triangular pennant divided by a red cross shifted to the hoist. The intersection point of crossbars is superimposed by a blue diamond containing a yellow compass rose.
Source: I spotted this carsticker on 27 March 2007 in HH-Borgfelde
This car sticker probably belongs to a German yacht club, located near Hamburg but not in Hamburg itself.
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 10 Sep 2008

Another unknown yacht club pennant

[Another unknown yacht club pennant] image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 27 Feb 2009

Unknown yacht club
It is a blue pennant with a thin yellow bordure and two white chevrons pointing to the fly.
Source: I spotted this car-sticker on 3 April 2006 in Hamburg-Farmsen.
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 27 Feb 2009

German-American Bund in New Jersey

[German-American Bund in New Jersey] image by Vinson Nash, 17 Dec 2008

I was recently watching the film "Third Reich in Color" and during several scenes showing activities of the German-American Bund in New Jersey during the late 1930s several members were shown carrying a flag that I had not seen before and cannot identify.  The flag was a dark blue with a white circle surrounding what appeared to be a black gear shaped object with what looked to be a red letter "D" in a german-looking font.  The flag had yellow/gold fringe.  I doesn't look to be what was apparently the official flag for them.  I thought perhaps you might have seen it before.
Vinson Nash, 17 Dec 2008

Flag of Hannover?

[Flag of Hannover?] <obverse> [Flag of Hannover? - reverse] <reverse> images sent by Matthew Brown, 29 Oct 2009

I recently discovered this flag at a small auction house in Australia and I am trying to establish where it came from. I think it is WW1 era, and the horse represents the house of Hannover? With the crown of the king?
Allegedly the flag was captured by Australian forces?
I've attached some photo's and would love any information you might have?
Matthew Brown, 29 Oct 2009

This surely cannot possibly be anything to do with the kingdom of Hannover, which was abolished and absorbed into the kingdom of Prussia in, I believe, 1867 or thereabouts.
Peter Johnson, 31 Oct 2009

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