What Do the Colors of the German Flag Mean?

The national flag of Germany is a tricolor with three horizontal bands.

The tri-colored German flag has a history and symbolism inextricably linked to the complex identity of the Federal Republic of Germany. The flag is a horizontal tricolor in Germany national colors of black, red, and gold. It was designed and first hoisted in the Weimar Republic in 1919, which was the name of Germany from that time until 1933.

History of the German Flag

The national colors in Germany have varied over time. Both black-white-red and black-red-gold have served as traditional German colors at different points in history. The red-black-gold triciolor flag designers dates back as early as 1778, and was popularized by the German Confederation in 1848. However, when the confederation failed, the flag was no longer used. When the Prussian king united Germany and became emperor in 1871, he adopted a black-white-red flag for the German Empire. This tricolor, which came to be known as imperial colors, served until the defeat of the Second Reich during the First World War. In 1919, the newly formed Weimar Republic adopted the black-red-gold flag. The colors are referred to as German republican colors. When the Nazis came to power in 1933, Hitler adopted the imperial colors and added the Nazi party swastika as the national flag. After Germany's defeat by the Allies in 1945, Nazi symbols were scrubbed from the German national identity. West Germany, then known as the Federal Republic of Germany, reinstated the old black-red-yellow flag in May 1949. The coat of arms, which includes an eagle, was placed at flag's center. East Germany, the communist German Democratic Republic, used a similar flag but later added its coat of arms in 1959. When Germany reunited in 1990, the united country continued to use the symbols adopted by West Germany.

Symbolism of the German Flag

Germans associate the colors of the modern flag with freedom and unity since they were adopted by the first attempt in the united German republic. In the Weimar Republic, following the First World War, the colors black, red, and gold represented the colors of the centrist, republican and democratic political parties. which had formed a coalition to avoid ascension to power by war-mongering or pacifist extremists.

Types of German Flags

  • Civil flag: also the national flag of Germany, consisting of only black-red-gold, and is used as the federal flag, as well as by non-federal state governments to show affiliation.
  • Government flag: used by the federal government, it is similar to the civil flag but includes the Federal Shield, which is similar to the coat of arms.
  • German war flags: since the military is a branch of the federal government, the government flag is used as the war flag on land. The German naval jack is a swallow-tailed government flag.

Attitude Towards the German Flag

After World War II, the use of nationalistic symbols in Germany, such as the flag, was widely frowned upon. The disuse of nationalistic material in public has been attributed to its misuse by the Nazis. In fact, many Germans were apprehensive when many of their compatriots publicly used the flag during the 2006 FIFA World Cup, which Germany hosted. However, the fear that national pride and public displays of patriotism were linked to Nazism were proven unfounded.

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