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Flag of Germany

History of the German flag
Pictures of the 16 German states flags

The flag of Germany has three equal horizontal bands displaying our national colours black, red and gold. Additionally, each German state has its own state flag.

flag of germany
Civil Flag

The German national flag is known as the Bundesflagge (federal flag).
It is also called civil flag because non-federal institutions and citizens are allowed to fly this flag as well.
State Flag of Germany
State Flag

The state or government flag includes the shield with the coat of arms (Bundesschild).
This flag is for the sole use of federal authorities. The official name of the government flag is Bundesdienstflagge (state flag of the federal authorities).

german bundesschild
germany's coat of arms
Don't confuse the Bundesschild (left) with the coat of arms (right).
It is tolerated that flags including the coat of arms are used by the general public lawfully.
Apart from the horizontal version of the black-red-gold tricolour vertical flags are often used. State parliament buildings, town halls and other public buildings often fly the vertical flag along with their local flags. Vertical flags on flagpoles should have the black band faced to the mast.

History of the flag of Germany

The colours black, red and gold have been a symbol in German history since the Middle Ages. Although a German flag was not always common during the centuries, emperors of the Holy Roman Empire used a golden shield with a black eagle with a red beak and red claws.

After the end of the Holy Roman Empire and the Napoleonic Wars the colours black, red and gold represented the desire for an united Germany and freedom for all citizens.

Flag of the german empire
The first black-red-gold tricolour appeared in the 19th century. The Frankfurt Parliament of 1848 proposed it as the flag for an united and democratic Germany.

However, with the foundation of the German Empire (1871-1918), a black-white-red tricolour became the flag of the empire (Deutsches Reich). It was also the German flag during the Nazi regime from 1933 to 1945, along with the swastika.

The Weimar Republic (1919-1933) reintroduced the black-red-gold flag again.

After World War II the black-red-gold tricolour became the flag of both German states, although East Germany added its coat of arms to the flag in 1959.

Since the German reunification in 1990 the plain black-red-gold tricolour has been the flag of the united Germany.

old photo of frankfurt national assembly

Frankfurt National Assembly of 1848

Flag Days in Germany

The use of the German flag is not very common in my country.
65 after the terror of the Nazi regime many Germans still feel apprehensive about showing too much national pride. Who can forget the pictures of large gatherings with flying flags which was an important part of nationalistic furore and Nazi propaganda?

Therefore, the national flag is mostly used on public building, by the authorities on the official flag days, or if the Federal Minister of the Interior announces a special event to fly the flag.

The use of the flag of Germany by the general public is rare and usually reserved for international sporting events.
The 2006 Soccer World Cup, held in Germany, was a big exception. For four weeks the entire country turned into a sea of black-red-gold flags as we celebrated a wonderful sport event together with international guests.
Since then flying the tricolour has been reduced to the official flag days again.

  • 27th January - commemorates the liberation of the Ausschwitz concentration camp and the Victims of National Socialism.
  • 1st May - International Worker's Day (Tag der Arbeit)
  • 9th May - Europe Day
  • 23rd May - Constitution Day, anniversary of the German constitution 1949
  • 17th June - Anniversary of the Uprising in East Germany in 1953
  • 20th July - Anniversary of the failed assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler in 1944
  • 3rd October - Tag der Deutschen Einheit - Anniversary of German reunification in 1990
  • National day of mourning (Volkstrauertag) - which is two Sundays before the first Advent - Commemoration of all killed during wartime
Only the first of May and the 3rd October are public holidays.

Below is a list of the German State Flags

flag of baden-wurttemberg


flag of bavaria


flag of berlin


flag of brandenburg


flag of bremen


flag of hamburg


flag of hessen


flag of lower saxony


flag of mecklenburg estern pomerania

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania

flag of north rhine westphalia

North Rhine-Wesphalia

flag of rhineland palatinate


flag of saarland


flag of saxony-anhalt


flag of saxony


flag of schleswig-holstein


flag of thuringia


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