GREATER GERMAN REICH
 


 
FLAGS OF NAZI GERMANY •  1933-45
 

The Third Reich—eventually to be titled the Grossdeutsches Reich (Greater German Reich)—was born on 30 January 1933, when Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor (prime minister) by the aged President Hindenburg. For a time the forms of the Republic were preserved, but when Hindenburg died on 2 August 1934 Hitler became Führer und Reichskanzler (Leader and Reich Chancellor), combining the offices of president and chancellor. This was in accordance with a law promulgated by the cabinet on the previous day, in anticipation of Hindenburg's demise. Thereafter the "coordination" of German society, already underway, accelerated, suppressing the institutions of the pluralistic republic and replacing them with Nazi-controlled organizations.

Like the Soviet Union, the Third Reich was "party-state"; that is, the formal apparatus of government—bureaucracy, judiciary, etc.—was paralleled and increasingly dominated by the party organization. The National Socialist German Workers' Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or NSDAP) was the only legal political party, and its presence was all-pervasive. As far as possible, all aspects of life in Germany were "coordinated," i.e. co-opted by the Party. Independent labor unions, for example, were abolished. In their place was established the Nazi-dominated German Labor Front (Deutschen Arbeitsfront). Youth groups and organizations were absorbed into the Hitler Youth (Hitlerjugend) for boys and the League of German Girls. (Bund Deutsche Mädel). Usually these organizations were endowed with an elaborate paramilitary structure including uniforms, ranks and flags.

Note on Flags and Flag Proportions: The national and government authorities flags of the Reich were made in 3:5 proportions, as were most "general" NSDAP flags, i.e. those intended to be flown outdoors. Organizational standards tended to be slightly rectangular, while most personal standards and command flags were made square.

Other Flags of Nazi Germany: See here for naval and military flags of the Third Reich.
 



 

FLAGS OF THE GROSSDEUTSCHES REICH

 

NATIONAL FLAG & CIVIL ENSIGN
National- und Handelsflagge  •  1933-35

 

NATIONAL FLAG & CIVIL ENSIGN
National- und Handelsflagge  •  1935-45

 

GOVERNMENT AUTHORITIES FLAG
Dienstflagge der Reichsbehörden  •  1933-35

 

GOVERNMENT AUTHORITIES FLAG
Dienstflagge der Reichsbehörden  •  1935-45

 

POSTAL FLAG  •  Reichs-Postamtsflagge  •  1933-35

 

PRESIDENTIAL STANDARD
Standarte der Reichspräsident  • 1933-35

 

STANDARD OF THE FÜHRER AND REICH CHANCELLOR
Standarte der Führer und Reichskanzler  •  1935-45

When Hitler became chancellor, one of his government's first acts was to abolish all variants of the republican black-red-gold flag, replacing them with the black-white-red flag of imperial Germany. The national flag was a plain horizontal tricolor, while the flag for government authorities displayed the eagle from the national coat of arms. There was also a postal flag. Within Germany the national flag was to be flown together with the Nazi Party flag, the former taking precedence. After President Hindenburg's death, however, the tricolor was dropped and a variant of the Party flag, with the swastika offset toward the hoist, became the national flag. The presidential standard, which previously had had a red border, was modified in 1933, the border becoming black-white-red. After Hitler became Führer und Reichskanzler the presidential standard was abolished and a new standard, its design reflecting his new status, was adopted in its place.


FLAGS OF THE NATIONAL SOCIALIST GERMAN WORKERS PARTY

 

FLAG OF THE NSDAP  •  Parteiflagge der NSDAP  •  1920-194

 

BANNER OF THE PARTY ADMINISTRATIVE REGION BAVARIA
Hoheitsfahne der NSDAP Gauleitung "Bayern"  •  1939-1945

 

BANNER OF THE PARTY OLD GUARD
Fahne der "Alten Garde" der NSDAP  •  1939-45

 

GENERAL STANDARD FOR VEHICLES
Allgemeine
Standarte für Fahrzeuge

 

GENERAL PENNANT FOR VEHICLES
 Allgemeiner Wimpel für Fahrzeuge

The flag of the NSDAP was designed by Hitler himself, casting the black-white-red colors of imperial Germany into a radically new form. The red field of the flag was deliberately chosen to provoke the Left, for which the Red Flag was a potent symbol of socialism and revolution. The Hakenkreuz (swastika), an ancient symbol found all around the world, was adopted because of its use by earlier nationalist/racist groups like the Thule-Gesellschaft (Thule Society). Early Party flags varied in their proportions and the orientation of the Hakenkreuz, but by the time of the Nazi seizure of power in 1933 the version shown above was standard. One of the sacred icons of Nazism was the Blutfahne (Blood Banner) carried by the SA during the 9 November 1923 Beer Hall Putsch. When the Bavarian State Police opened fire on the marching Nazis, the blood of the killed and wounded stained this flag. In later years it was kept in the Brown House, the headquarters of the Party in Munich. It was destroyed when an attack on Munich by the Eighth Air Force demolished the Brown House.

The banners for Party regions and districts were more nearly square and were ornamented with silver fringe. In the upper hoist appeared the name of the district or region. The banner of the NSDAP Old Guard (members who'd joined the Party prior to 1933) had gold fringe and bore a representation of the Golden Party Badge that such members were entitled to wear. The general standard and pennant were used together with Party position and rank flags, on vehicles, being displayed at the right front.


STANDARD •  NATIONAL PARTY LEADERS
Standarte eines Reichsleiters  • 1940-41


STANDARD  •  REGIONAL PARTY LEADERS
Standarte einers Gauleiters  • 1941-45


STANDARD  •  DISTRICT PARTY LEADERS
Standarte einers Kreisleiters  • 1938-40

 

PENNANT  •  OFFICE CHIEF  •  REGIONAL ADMINISTRATION
Wimple einer Amtsleiter in Gauleitung  •  1940-41

The leading officials of the Party held the rank of Reichsleiter, which was also bestowed, ex officio, on senior members of the government. For administrative Party purposes Germany was divided into 41 regions (Gaue), each headed by a Gauleiter. These men were mostly of the Party Old Guard and were among Hitler's closest cronies. Each Gau was divided into a number of "circles" or districts, headed by a Kreisleiter. All these officials had standards or pennants, mostly used on vehicles, which went through a number of design changes as reflected above.

 

THE STORMTROOPERS  •  Sturmabteilung (SA)

 

STANDARD FOR STORMTROOPER REGIMENT BERLIN IV  •  Standarte der Sturmabteilung-Standarte Berlin IV

 

BANNER FOR SA BATTALIONS
Fahne für SA-Sturmbanne  •  1933-45


 

GUIDON FOR MOUNTED STORMTROOPER COMPANIES
Flagge für SA-Reiterstürme  •  1933-45

 

GENERAL PENNANT OF THE SA
Allgemeiner Wimpel der SA  •  1935-45

Among the earliest of the Nazi Party's organizations was the Sturmabteilung (Assault Detachment), known informally as the Brownshirts or Stormtroopers. The name was derived from the elite assault units of the German Army during the Great War and many of the SA's original members were in fact war veterans. The brown SA uniform, which became the model for most uniforms of the Nazi Party, was adopted when a quantity of surplus Army uniforms intended for troops in the former German colonies became available at a knock-down price. The SA originated as a small squad of toughs tasked with the defense of Party meetings but by the late 1920s it had grown into a large organization with a paramilitary structure and its own rank titles. During the Kampfzeit—the struggle for power—the SA's street presence and propensity for violence did much to spread the Party's basic message and intimidate opposition parties and groups. Ernst Röhm, the SA Chief of Staff and one of Hitler's closest associates, aspired to develop the SA into a new national army, absorbing the Reichwehr in the process. To this proposal the senior officers of the Reichwehr were adamantly opposed and they pressed Hitler to disavow Röhm's scheme. But though Hitler shared his friend's dislike and distrust of the generals, he needed their professional expertise to carry through his rearmament plans. The issue was resolved by the so-called Blood Purge (30 June-2 July 1934), whereby Röhm and the rest of the SA leadership were liquidated on trumped-up charges of treason and insurrection. The troops of the Reichwehr remained in their barracks while the SS and the police carried out the purge. Thereafter the SA, while it remained one of the largest Nazi organizations, declined in importance. The role that Röhm had hoped the SA would play was gradually assumed by the SS, whose leader, Himmler, proved far more adept at the behind-the-scenes power struggles so characteristic of the Nazi regime.

The basic unit of the SA was the Standarte (regiment), each of which received a flag in the form of a Roman vexillum, with the cloth suspended from a horizontal cross piece. Over this were, in order, a panel bearing the unit designation, a wreath enclosing a swastika, and a gilt eagle. The cloth was red, with red-white-black fringe and tassels, bearing a swastika on a white disc and the motto Deutschland Erwache (Germany Awake). The reverse of the banner had Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei above and Sturmabteilung below the disc. Battalions (Sturmbanne) and companies (Stürme) of the Standarten had rectangular flags or, for mounted units, swallow-tailed guidons. Early models of the flag had no fringe; later silver fringe was added and in 1933it was changed to gold. In the upper hoist of both flags and guidons was the unit designation: Standarte/Sturmbann or Strumbann/Sturm. The general pennant, displaying the SA badge, was mostly used on vehicles.



 


 
1933-36                 COMMAND FLAGS  •  SA CHIEF OF STAFF                 1936-38
Kommandoflaggen  • 
Stabschef SA
 

COMMAND FLAG  •  SA SENIOR GROUP LEADER
Kommandoflagge  •  SA-Obergruppenf
ührer  •  1936-38

 

COMMAND FLAG  •  GROUP LEADER
Kommandoflagge  •  SA-Gruppenf
ührer  •  1936-38

 

COMMAND FLAG  •  SA BRIGADE LEADER
Kommandoflagge  •  SA-Brigadef
ührer
1936-38

 

COMMAND FLAG  •  SA REGIMENT LEADER
Kommandoflagge  •  SA-Standartenf
ührer
1936-38

 

COMMAND FLAG  •  SA BATTALION LEADER
Kommandoflagge  •  SA-
Sturmbannführer
1936-38

SA leaders had command flags or pennants, which mostly were used on vehicles together with the general standard or pennant. These went through a number of changes. The set adopted in 1936 was only slightly modified in 1938, the major change being the adoption of a new flag for the SA Chief of Staff. Since Hitler was the commander-in-chief of the SA, there was no flag for that rank, which was denoted by the standard of the Führer. All the command flags displayed the SA version of the national eagle and, for group leaders and below, a unit designation.

 

OTHER PARTY ORGANIZATIONS

 

GENERAL FLAG  •  HITLER YOUTH
 Allgemeine Flagge der Hitlerjugend (HJ)  •  1935-45

 

GENERAL FLAG  •  NATIONAL LABOR SERVICE
 Allgemeine Flagge der Reichsarbeitsdienst (RAD)  •  1935-45

 

GENERAL FLAG  •  GERMAN LABOR FRONT
 Allgemeine Flagge der Deutschen Arbeitsfront (DAF)  •  1935-45

 

HOUSE FLAG •  NATIONAL SOCIALIST MOTOR CORPS
Hauseflagge der Nationalsozialistisches Kraftfahrkorps (NSKK)

The flags shown above are typical of those granted to the numerous Nazi organizations by which German society was "coordinated." In many cases, e.g. the RAD, there was a whole range of unit standards, rank flags, etc. Most were based on the design of the basic Party flag.

 



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