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National symbol of unity, freedom, democracy for Germans

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Germany flag is a tricolour flag that represents the Federal Republic of Germany. Germany is a country located in Central Europe. It is the second-most populous country in Europe after Russia and also the largest member state in the European Union. Germany’s capital and most populated city is Berlin, while its financial centre is Frankfurt.

The country was once the seat of the Nazis who waged the Second World War, under the leadership of Adolf Hitler. After the war, Germany was divided into two political entities – the Federal Republic of Germany, generally known as West Germany, and the German Democratic Republic, known as East Germany. Berlin retained its four-power status. On October 3, 1990, both West and East Germany joined together to become the now-known Federal Republic of Germany.

Germany is described as a great power with a strong economy, which is the largest in Europe. A global power in industrial, scientific and technological sectors, it is the world’s fourth-largest economy by nominal GDP and the fifth-largest by PPP. Germany is a member of the United Nations, European Union, NATO, Council of Europe, G7, G20, and OECD.

What is Germany’s flag?

What is Germany's flag?

The German flag is a tricolour flag that consists of three equal horizontal bands displaying the national colours of Germany: black, red, and gold. As a symbol of the nation’s constitutional order, the flag is protected from defamation. Offenders can be fined or sentenced to prison for up to five years, according to §90 of the German penal code.

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Germany flag history

Medieval period (800/962 – 1806)

Medieval period (800/962 – 1806)

Germany was under the Holy Roman Empire, known as the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. However, the empire did not have a national flag. So, it adopted black and gold colours, featuring a black eagle on a golden background. The claws and beaks of the eagle were later coloured red after the late 13th or early 14th century.

In the early 15th century, the flag featured a double-headed eagle. However, Heinrich XI, Prince Reuss of Greiz, the Principality of Reuss-Greiz, created the first-ever appearance of the black-red-gold tricolour in its modern arrangement.

Napoleonic control (1806)

Napoleonic control (1806)

After the fall of the Roman Empire in 1806, the formation of the Confederation of the Rhine, which was made up of the 16 German states, was made under Napoleonic control. However, there was no flag. Therefore, Napoleon used the blue-white-red Flag of France. However, Russia, Britain and their allies defeated Napoleon and created a German Confederation in 1816.  Francis I of Austria, who was the last Holy Roman Emperor, became its president.

Returning from the war, veterans of the Lützow Free Corps founded the Urburschenschaft fraternity in Jena in June 1815. The Jena Urburschenschaft finally adopted a flag with three equal horizontal bands of red, black and red, with gold trim and a golden oak branch across the black band. It was inspired by the colours of the uniforms of the Free Corps.

Revolution (1848 – 1852)

Revolution (1848 - 1852)

The Liberals took power and a national assembly was formed after the revolutions in 1848. The Frankfurt Parliament made the black-red-gold tricolour with the double-headed eagle banner in the top left-hand corner as the official colours of Germany. In late 1850, the German Confederation was restored under Austrian-Prussian leadership. The flag continued to be used until 1863.

North German Confederation and the German Empire (1867–1918)

North German Confederation and the German Empire (1867–1918)

Prussia, under Otto von Bismarck, was heavily influential in the dissolution of the Confederation. It formed its unofficial successor, the North German Confederation, in 1866. The North German Confederation later became known as the German Empire in 1871, under the rule of Wilhelm I, the King of Prussia.  Under his reign, the constitution of the North German Confederation was enacted, with a horizontal black-white-red tricolour declared to be both the civil and war ensign. The flag remained until the end of the German Empire in 1918.

Weimar Republic (1918–1933)

Weimar Republic (1918–1933)

In 1918, Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated the throne, leading to the creation of a power vacuum following Germany’s defeat. Hence, the Social Democratic Party took control and created the Weimar Republic. They also restored the old black-red-gold tricolour, which many Germans saw as an insult after the nation was defeated in World War 1.

Nazi and World War II (1933–1945)

Nazi and World War II (1933–1945)

The Nazi Party took power on January 30, 1933, and banned the black-red-gold flag. On March 12, 1933, the government established two legal flags: reintroducing the black-white-red imperial tricolour national flag and the flag of the Nazi Party. Hitler’s elevation to the position of Führer brought the dual-flag arrangement to an end. The Nazi flag, designed with a red background, a white disk and a black swastika in the middle, was officially declared the national flag of Germany.

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Post-World War II (1945–1949)

Post-World War II (1945–1949)

Following Hitler’s Germany’s defeat in the Second World War, the Nazi flag was abolished. Germany itself was divided into five zones of occupation. However, a national flag was still needed for ships sailing on international waters. Therefore, a C-Pennant was commissioned as the German civil and naval ensign.

East Germany and West Germany (1949–1990)

Flag of East Germany
Flag of East Germany
Flag of West Germany
Flag of West Germany

Following the defeat of the Nazis, Germany was divided into two separate states: the German Democratic Republic, also known as East Germany and the Federal Republic of Germany also known as West Germany. The black-red-gold tricolour became the Flag of the Republic of Germany while the German Democratic Republic adopted the black-red-gold tricolour with the National Emblem of the German Democratic Republic in the centre. In this flag, the hammer represents the workers, the compass a symbol of the intelligentsia while the ring of rye represents the farmers.

1990 – present

Following the collapse of the Soviet Empire in 1990, the two German nations were unified and the flag of the Federal Republic of Germany was officially adopted as the national flag. For years, Germans were guilt-ridden by World War II and rarely displayed their national flag.

However, the 2006 FIFA World Cup hosted by Germany saw an increase in the number of people waving the flag. When Germany finally won the World Cup in 2014, the use of German flags in public increased.

Germany flag meaning

The German flag represents unity, freedom and democracy.

Germany flag colours

The German flag consists of the tricolours of black, red, and gold.

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