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Czechoslovakia 1918-1920

Last modified: 2011-05-27 by andrew weeks
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[Flag of Czechoslovakia 1918-1920] image by Mark Sensen, 2 Jul 1996. See also:

Flag of Czechoslovakia 1918-1920

The historical flag for the Czech countries is horizontal white over red (i.e. the Bohemian Landesfarben in the Habsburg Empire, based on the arms - white double-tailed lion on red), and was unofficially used until some years ago. This was also the first flag of Czechoslovakia when this state was born in 1918 (independence proclaimed 14 november). On 29 february 1920 a blue triangle on the hoist was added.
Mark Sensen 02 July 1996

The statement that the Czechoslovak independence was proclaimed at 14 november 1918 is not true.
It was proclaimed on 28 October 1918 after the announcement of the Austro-Hungarian attempt of peace negotiation with the Entente. The very same day is up till now a public holiday in the Czech Republic, and probably in the Slovak Republic too.
Tomáš Jakl, 18 Sep 2001

Proposals for the Czechoslovak national flag (1919) - introduction

In "Flags in South Africa and the world" (Proceedings of the XVIIth International Congress of Vexillology), a paper by Ales Brozek, entitled "Several unpublished proposals for the design of the Czechoslovak national flag" (pp. 142-147) gives interesting details on the genesis of the Czechoslovak (now Czech) national flag.

Flag designs of the artist Jaroslav Jares (1919), found by A. Brozek in archives of the Jares family. There is no text with the original drawings so it is not known whether all the proposals were meant for the national flag or for other types of flags. All proposals use the pan-slavic colors (blue, white and red). The black triangle with a red chalice or sun may refer to the Hussite movement (XVth century) named after the reformist Jan Hus, whose flags were thought to contain these colours and devices.
I have numbered them <cz!jj1.gif> to <cz!jj12.gif> There is no <cz!jj4.gif> in the series because this proposal matches exactly the Czechoslovak national flag,  Displaying this proposal in exhibitions was the source of an urban legend according to which Jares created the national flag by winning a flag contest in 1920. Jares can probably be credited with the idea of the triangle at the hoist (in one of his earlier proposal from November 1918) but could not have influenced the Arms Committee in 1919-1920 in the definitive choice of the national flag.

Flag designs of the minister of railways Isidor Zahradnik (19 December 1919), found by A. Brozek in the archives of the Premonstratensian monastery in Prague. As a member of the Constitutional Committee, Zahradnik did not like the flag with the triangle at hoist issued in October 1919. His alternative proposals were influenced by the American flag and the flag used by the Czechs and Slovaks in America. Zahradnik finally supported the flag adopted on 30 March 1920 and can be credited for its adoption. The 5 stars, inspired by the flag of the United States, probably represented Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia, Slovakia and Ruthenia.
Ivan Sache, 14 Feb 2000

I visited Czeck Army Museum and took several photos of old flags and proposed flags - 1919 and 1920 national flag proposals
- J.Jarese (1919)
- Flag designs of J.Benda (1919)
- six proposals with yellow by J.Kursa (1920)
- six stars on blue triangle
- 1920 proposal by V.V.Stechem
Nozomi Kariyasu, 24 Jul 2009

flag of the Czechoslovak National Council in 1916

I wonder if you know the Osprey Publishing series of books on military subjects? These sometimes include illustrations of unusual flags (indeed a few volumes are entirely devoted to flags). A recent example is "The Czech Legion 1914-20" by David Bullock (Men-at-Arms, no.447, 2009). Page 3 depicts in monochrome a contemporary painting which includes what is stated to be "a flag of the aspirant state of Czechoslovakia approved by the Czechoslovak National Council in 1916" and which is not in your database. I am afraid I lack the technology to reproduce it for you. It is white over red, and in each corner, at an angle of 45 deg. to the vertical, appears a small shield  with the arms of one of the constituent provinces. Correcting for the fact that the painting shows the flag flying to the left, these are arranged (1) Slovakia, (2) Bohemia, (3) Silesia, (4) (concealed) presumably Moravia. The coloured illustrations include representations of several standards of Czech Legion units which I think are also lacking from the database.
  I am sure that if anyone had access to a complete set of Osprey books (which must run to about 1000) there would be other interesting revelations of this kind.
Kenneth Fraser, 6 Feb 2010