The Flag of Germany

History of the German Flag The history of the German flag is as complex as the history of the country itself. Just as the country has included various regions and divisions, so has the flag developed, changed, solidified, and then changed again. The current design of three equal bars of black, red, and yellow or gold first appeared in the early 1800’s and since then has been supplanted and then re-adopted many times. It was first widely used as a banner of the 1848 revolutions and then adopted by parliament in 1850. From 1866 to 1918, the flag and colors changed again to black, white and red, and then the Weimar Republic also adopted it after World War I and it remained the national flag under that government until 1933. After World War II, it was again adopted by West Germany. East Germany adopted the triband design, but added the country’s coat of arms in 1959. When the two halves of Germany were reunited in 1990, the coat of arms was dropped from the flag and the united country now uses the triband in black, red, and gold. The Meaning of its Colors and Symbols Germany has had two different sets of national colors: black, red and gold, and black, red and white. During those times when the black, red, and gold has not been used, it has been replaced by the black, red and white. The black, red, and gold of the current flag has its origins in the early 19th century wars against Napoleon. Other than that, nobody can say what the colors really mean, only that they are deeply connected to the history and identity of Germany. The red sometimes represents the Hanseatic League, an alliance of German states, and the black often stand for Austria, which has often been synonymous with southern Germany. The three colors are also sometimes considered to stand for student or revolutionary groups throughout history, and embraced as the colors of German independence and spirit. Different Variations of the Flag of Germany The major difference between the current flag and others that have alternated with it is the change of colors. When it’s not black, red and yellow, it’s black, red and white. The most well-known example of those alternate colors is the flag of Nazi Germany, in use from 1933 to 1945, which featured a red background, white circle, and black swastika inside the circle. In other incarnations, the flag simply bore a black, white, and then red stripe in much the same design as the current flag, but in a different order. Other designs have displayed the three-color combination in the form of a cross or with a coat of arms. One interesting design from the Cold War features the current flag with a blank white circle in the center, symbolizing the cutting out of the East German coat of arms—the flag is a statement against the artificial division of the German state and the German people.