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War Ensign 1938-1945 (Germany)


Last modified: 2017-11-13 by german editorial team
Keywords: reichskriegsflagge |
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[War Ensign 1938-1945 (Third Reich, Germany)] 3:5; image by Olivier Vercammen
Flag adopted February 1938, abolished 1945

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The national war ensign had a red field with a white-black-white bordered black cross with a center disk — thus clearly inspired by the Imperial Ensign. The center disk was somewhat larger and had a white-black bordered swastika instead of an eagle. In the canton there was a white-black-white bordered Iron Cross — instead of the Iron Cross on the black-white-red tricolor. (...) Illustrated in Flaggenbuch 1939 [neu39], plate I, and Davis 1975 [dav75], p. 81.
Norman Martin, Jan 1998

Actual flags usually had on the border a small eagle with a circled swastika with an 'M' underneath (the mark of the Reichszeugmeister) and a size such as '200 × 335' stamped on it.
Norman Martin, 1 Jun 2000

This scan shows the war ensign construction sheet as it appears in Flaggenbuch 1939 [neu39].
Santiago Dotor, 5 Jun 2000

Two different patterns of this flag existed:

  1. 1935-1938: the bars of the center cross do not connect with the rings of the disc and border rings of the white disc are uninterrupted.
  2. 1938-1945: the white disc shifted slightly towards the seam. There are sections of the outer black border of the disc connected to the outer black borders of the cross, and that outer black border is interrupted by the white fimbriation and the central black stripe of the cross.
Marcus Wendel, 20 Sep 2000

There were no two variants of this flag, [but two consecutive flags]. The first Reichskriegsflagge was introduced 7th November 1935. Flaggenbuch 1939 [neu39] shows the later flag which replaced the first in February 1938.
Ralf Stelter, 13 Jan 2001

Reichskriegsflagge - 1st and 2nd pattern

[Reichskriegsflagge - 1st pattern]1st[Reichskriegsflagge - 2nd pattern]2nd images by Olivier Vercammen, 13 Oct 2002

Here are both the 1st and the 2nd patern flags. They came in a few popular sizes: 80x135 / 100x170 / 150x250 / 200x335 / 300x500 ( all centimeters ). They have normaly all a stamp of the constructor and size ( in cm or in meter e.g. 0.80x1.35 ).
Most of them (but not all) have a marking with an eagle over a kapital M, which means the flag was Kriegsmarine approved.
Normaly the small flags have two looped rope lanyards while the larger examples have a looped lanyard at the top and a large rope at the bottom.
Olivier Vercammen, 13 Oct 2002

Imperial war ensign flown on 31st May

Flown at the top of the mainmast on the anniversary of the Battle of Jutland / Skagerrak

[War Ensign 1903-1919 (Germany)] 3:5  image by Carsten Linke

Austro-Hungarian war ensign flown on 31st May by the Prinz Eugen

Flown at the top of the mainmast on the anniversary of the Battle of Jutland / Skagerrak

[Austro-Hungarian war ensign flown on 31st May by the Prinz Eugen (Third Reich, Germany)] 2:3  image by ®eljko Heimer, 22 Sep 1996

Actually the Austro-Hungarian war ensign was used during World War Two as well! It was flown by the German heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen —though only once due to the war— that took over the tradition of the Austro-Hungarian Navy by an order dated 12 June 1940. Source: John R. Angola and Adolf Schlicht, Die Kriegsmarine: Uniforms & Traditions Vol 3.
Marcus Wendel, 16 Oct 2000