COMMAND & RANK FLAGS, 1871-1918
The command and rank flags of the Kaiserlichen Marine (Imperial German Navy) were based on the design of the Prussian admiral's flag of the 1860's: white with a black Iron Cross. In the Prussian Navy, and in the early years of the Imperial German Navy, the same flag was used by all admirals, exact rank being determined by the mast from which it was flown. The shift from sail and wood to steam and steel eventually rendered this system impracticable, so as in other navies additional rank flags were introduced. The basic system followed British practice, with more flags being added as the Navy expanded. There were originally three flag ranks: Admiral, Vice-Admiral and Rear-Admiral. A full Admiral in command of the Navy flew his rank flag with the addition of an imperial crown at the intersection of the cross. When the rank of Grand Admiral (equivalent to Field Marshal in the Army) was created, another rank flag was introduced, with crossed batons and crown over the cross. There were also flags for the Chief of the Imperial Navy Office, the Inspector General of the Navy, and the Chief of the Naval Staff.
Some of these flags were abolished after World War I, but the five lower naval rank flags continued in service with the Reichmarine, as the Navy was called during the Weimar era.
Flag Proportions: Naval command and rank flags of the Imperial German Navy (excluding pennants) were made square.
CHIEF OF THE IMPERIAL NAVY
INSPECTOR-GENERAL OF THE NAVY
CHIEF OF THE NAVAL
GRAND ADMIRAL (Großadmiral)
ADMIRAL (Admiral) COMMANDING THE NAVY
Also the Senior Officer's pennant, depending on how displayed.
OFFICER IN TEMPORARY
COMMAND OF A SQUADRON OR FLOTILLA
BACK to GERMAN EMPIRE Page