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Free and Hanseatic City of Lübeck 1226-1937 (Germany)

Freie und Hansestadt Lübeck

Last modified: 2014-03-05 by klaus-michael schneider
Keywords: luebeck | hansestadt luebeck | eagle(black) | panel(white) | eagle(double-headed) | disc(white) | canton(white) | anchor(yellow) | canton(red) |
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[Civil Flag 13th Century-1937 (Lübeck, Germany)] 2:1 through 3:5 Image by Jorge Candeias

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Introduction

Lübeck (nowadays in the Land Schleswig-Holstein) was perhaps the most influential Hansa city. From 1358 it was the administrative headquarters of the Hanseatic League, and its legal system was adopted by over 100 other cities in the Baltic region. The flag of Lübeck is white over red — these colours are used by many North German cities (for example Bremen and Hamburg).
Jan Oskar Engene, 13 May 1996

After 1945, unlike [the other Hanseatic cities] Hamburg and Bremen, Lübeck was not re-established as a state [Land] and hence, these flags no longer qualify as state flags and are historical only.
Norman Martin, 25 Feb 1998

Apparently in the late 1920's until 1935, there was a service flag for the high seas, one for inland waters, a state flag and a land flag. It is a little hard to figure the boundaries, especially considering that there were also national and merchant flags and national service flags.
Norman Martin, 5 Feb 2001

It is understood, that the settlement of Liubice (= the lovely One) of the Slavic tribe of Abodrites, established in 8th century had been the name giver of the city of Lübeck. A casle was erected in 819, the settlement was mentioned in 1067 by Adam of Bremen, a clergyman and capitular in service of archbishop Adalbert of Bremen. Count Adolf II of Schauenburg (the later Schaumburg) and Holstein reestablished the city in 1143 as the first German port on the shores of the Baltic, after it had been burnt down in 1127. It was then that it got its current position on an island in the Trave, where the burned town had been several kilometres further downstream on the left bank of the river.
In 1160 the city became seat of a bishopric and gained city rights according to the city rights of Soest in Westphalia. Furthermore in 1161 the city became member of the Hansa, in those early days a mere connection of merchants. In 1161 a hansa was formed in Lübeck, a cooperation between the merchants of the city, presumably a direct result from its city rights. Other cities had similar organizations, though the names varied. At some point, the cities of Hamburg, on the North Sea coast and Lübeck, on the Baltic coast, began to cooperate to protect the road between them, which guaranteed a German trade route between the two seas, avoiding the sea-route through Denmark. Outside the city there had been numerous smaller territories (Landgebiete) possesed by the city. The Amt of Bergedorf was a condominium ruled together with Hamburg. Both cities cooperated in order to secure the streets between both cities. As this cooperation began to encompass more trade aspects, the Hansas of other cities became involved as well. Saxon towns joined up for their ties with Hamburg, Baltic towns for their ties with Lübeck. In 1226 Emperor Friedrich II granted the privilege and the city gained the status of direct imperial rule (German: Reichsunmittelbarkeit).
Leading among the Baltic towns was Visby, representing Gotland, until in 1288 changes in the Gotland internal politics lead to local conflict and afterwards to a change in external politics. Soon after this, using its connections, Lübeck positioned itself as the chief Baltic city. In 1356 it was also in Lübeck that the Hansa League held its first assembly (Hansetag).
After the Danish king Waldemar IV Atterdag (=other day) had conquered the city of Visby in 1361, Lübeck became head of the Hansa League, meanwhile having changed into a mighty association of cities. In reaction to the Danish conquest of Gotland, five years later, the Hansa transformed into a more political federation that eventually defeated Denmark. (Thereby at the same time robbing the league of a possible ally and robbing Lübeck of its foundation, though this would not immediately become apparent.)
The power of Lübeck declined, when at the beginning of the 16th century Dutch merchants opened flourishing trade with the cities in the East of the Baltic Sea. Lübeck's attempt to gain control over the castles of Kronborg (Helsingør) and Hælsingborg failed in 1532. The mayor of Lübeck Jürgen Wullenwever tried to reestablish the former position of the city by military means and intervention into a Danish civil war, but the fleet of Lübeck was defeated in the battle of Svendborg in 1535. This meant the end of the proud "Queen of Hansa".
After the dissolution of Holy Roman Empire in 1806 the city became a sovereign German state, except a short interruption as being part of the French Empire from 1811 to 1813. In 1815 Lübeck became a sovereign member of the German Confederation (Deutscher Bund). It joined the North German Confederation (Norddeutscher Bund) in 1866 and the Customs Union (Deutscher Zollverein) in 1868 and became a state of German Empire in 1871. In 1937 the state was dissolved and the city became part of the Prussian Province of Schleswig-Holstein.
Sources: www.wikipedia.org and Hamburg-Lexikon, p.295-296
Klaus-Michael Schneider and Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 7 May 2011


Hanging Flag late 13th Century

[Lübeck late 13th Century (Germany)] Image by Phil Nelson

Znamierowski 1999 shows several interesting flags of the Port Cities of northern Europe. These are derived from gonfanons, originally red in color. The flags, in a banner form [i.e. hanging flags], were flown from the stern of the vessels, the mast carrying the gonfanon of the colors. The oldest of the series, from the mid-13th century, that of Hamburg, was followed by Lübeck already in the 13th century.
Phil Nelson, 20 Feb 2000

The German editors of Norie and Hobbs 1971 added two charts (which were not originally in Norie and Hobbs 1848) with German flags that were important over time. One of them is no. 29, Flüger: Lübeck 1299, as the above flag but extended horizontally to a long flying flag. I believe a Flüger is a pennant of which the part near the hoist fixed to a piece of wood, and that is indeed how these are pictured in Norie and Hobbs 1971.
Peter Hans van der Muijzenberg, 12 Nov 2001


Civil Flag 13th Century - 1935
Landesflagge - reported 1700, 1705, 1716, 1750, 1805, 1842, 1862 and 1865

[Civil Flag 13th Century-1937 (Lübeck, Germany)] 2:1 through 3:5 Image by Jorge Candeias

A white-red horizontal bicolour. Officially adopted 19 November 1890. Illustrated in National Geographic 1917 p. 371, no. 1153 and Smith 1975 p. 205.
Norman Martin, 25 Feb 1998

Both the Brockhaus 1928 and Neubecker 1929 list a Landesflagge which is a white-red horizontal bicolour.
Norman Martin, 5 Feb 2001


Mistaken 17th Century Variant
Reported 1685

[Civil Flag, mistaken 1685 Variant (Lübeck, Germany)] 2:3 Image by Jorge Candeias

A yellow-red horizontal bicolour. Only one source. Possibly a mistake for the usual civil flag.
Norman Martin, 25 Feb 1998


State Flag 18th-19th Centuries
Reported 1737 and 1862

[State Flag 1737 and 1862 (Lübeck, Germany)] 2:3 Image by Jaume Ollé

A white-red horizontal bicolour at the center a crowned black double-headed eagle with sword and scepter, in escutcheon the small arms of Lübeck (per fess white over red). Illustrated in Smith 1975 p. 205.
Norman Martin, 25 Feb 1998

The actual source is a Dutch flag chart of the 18th century (...) a poor fantasy product.
Ralf Stelter, 7 Feb 2001

That chart is probably derived from Hendrik de Leth's Atlas (c. 1740), a very poor compilation of Dutch provincial and city maps, with one plate with all flags of the world, in black and white. The colorization reproduced in Smith 1975 is catastrophic, because it fades the hardly visible details away. Apart from that, some flags on de Leth's charts were added compared with Danckerts 1705 flag chart and Hesman's flag chart (1708) without a sound base. Bellin's beautiful chart (1756) has also only the white-red flag of Lübeck.
Jarig Bakker, 8 Feb 2001

Norie and Hobbs 1848 shows under "169: Lubeck War [ensign]" the above flag, except the crown larger and resting on both heads, eagle all black, objects all white, apart from the shield, which covers the entire breast and has its division per fess in line with the dividing line of the flag. Some of these differences could be explained if the source was the black and white document above mentioned.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 12 Nov 2001


State Flag 1850-1935
Reported 1900 and 1905

[State Flag 1850-1935 (Lübeck, Germany)] 2:3 Image by Jaume Ollé
Flag adopted 16th October 1850, abolished (as State Flag) 1935

A white-red horizontal bicolour, a white rectangle occupying 2/3 of the height of the red stripe. At the center of the rectangle overlapping the white stripe, an uncrowned black double-headed eagle without regalia, in escutcheon the small arms of Lübeck. Illustrated in Crampton 1990 p. 42 and Meyers Konversations-Lexikon 1912 vol. 4, facing p. 799. It seems likely that this State Flag replaced the State Flag 18th-19th Centuries somewhere around 1870.
Norman Martin, 25 Feb 1998

This flag appears to have been used until 1935. Is this correct, or was it replaced with the State Ensign used on Inland Waters 1921-1935?
Santiago Dotor, 5 February 2001

Given the entry in Neubecker 1929, I see only two possibilities: either (1) it was replaced by Bild 29a (the one in Znamierowski 1999 p. 23) c.1921 and readopted for some, but not most purposes c. 1927 and used until 1935, or (2) it was used until 1935.
Norman Martin, 5 Feb 2001

The state flag was introduced by Decree (Senatsbeschluss) on 16 October 1850: white and red with the eagle in the center on a white field. The Decree included an illustration. It was confirmed by Decree of 1890 and by Proclamation of 22 December 1935 (where it was degraded to "die Flagge der Stadtgemeinde Lübeck", a city flag).
     By the way, the above flag image [by Jaume Ollé] was drawn after Neubecker 1929's wrong picture — the claws [i.e. talons] should be gold too. Neubecker 1929 picture 29a, shows the correct eagle which was introduced in 1890 (possibly already in 1850).
     Please note Crampton 1990 p. 42 and Meyers Konversations-Lexikon 1912 vol. 4, facing p. 799 are actually the same source! Anyway, both show the official drawing indeed.
Ralf Stelter, 7 Feb 2001


State Ensign 1895-1921
Dienstflagge für Staatsfahrzeuge und Staatsgebäude der Seeschiffahrt/Service Flag for State Vessels and State Maritime Buildings

[State Ensign 1895-1921 (Lübeck, Germany)] 2:3 Image by Jaume Ollé
Flag adopted 23rd March 1895, abolished 24th December 1921

Like the Prussian State Ensign for Sea Services 1895-1918, except in the square canton the black eagle of the State Flag 1850-1935. Adopted 1893 and abandoned by 1921. Illustrated in Crampton 1990 p. 42, Meyers Konversations-Lexikon 1912 vol. 4, National Geographic 1917 p. 367, nos. 999 and 1008.
Norman Martin, 25 Feb 1998

Dienstflagge für Staatsfahrzeuge und Staatsgebäude, die der Seeschiffahrt dienen: German state ensign [with] heraldic eagle of Lübeck on a white field in the black stripe at the hoist. Source: Decree (Dekret) of the Lübeck Senate, 23rd March 1895.
Ralf Stelter, 7 Feb 2001


State Flag
Reported 1897

[Lübeck State Flag reported 1897] 2:3 Image by Santiago Dotor

It was a white over red horizontal bicolour. Shifted to the hoist a white rectangle was cut out of the red half at its upper edge. A black double eagle, armed red, having an inescutcheon upon its breast was placed upon this rectangle. The inescutcheon was divided per fess into white over red.
Source: Stroehl 1999,plate 22, flag 19 opp. p.86; reprint ISBN 3-89836-545-X

Construction Sheet

[Lübeck State Flag reported 1897, construction sheet] 2:3 Image by Santiago Dotor

The ratio was 3:5. The red and white horizontal stripes were of equal width. The cut out white rectangle took 2/3 of height of the red stripe and 4/10 of its width. It was shifted to the hoist in that way that the red stripe was horizontally interrupted with ratio 1:2:2.
Source: Stroehl 1999, p.87, figure 130 (just the shield instead of the eagle); reprint ISBN 3-89836-545-X

Description of coat of arms (no image):
The double eagle mentioned aboved is placed onto a golden (=yellow) shield. It is representing the status of direct rule under Holy Roman Emperors. According to source the double eagle appeared first on golden coins in 1341, images showing the eagle and the shield side by side were known since 1368. The shield was transformed into an inescutcheon upon the eagle's breast since 1464.
Source: Stadler 1970, p.103
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 7 May 2011


State Ensign 1921-1934
Dienstflagge für Staatsfahrzeuge der Seeschiffahrt/Service Flag for State Vessels (and State Maritime Buildings)

[State Ensign 1921-1934 (Lübeck, Germany)] 2:3 Image by Santiago Dotor and Jaume Ollé
Flag adopted 24th December 1921, abolished 1934

The black-white-red flag with the national arms in the center (apparently slightly offset towards the hoist) with the small arms of Lübeck on the (black) canton. Thus the [1921-1926] national service flag with the arms on the canton. In use c.1926-1935 [Editor's note: actually 1921-1934, read below]. Illustrated in Große Brockhaus 1928, vol. 4, p. 656.
Norman Martin, 25 Feb 1998 and 5 Feb 2001

Dienstflagge für Staatsfahrzeuge und Staatsgebäude, die der Seeschiffahrt dienen: German state ensign (ratio 2:3), [with] in black stripe at hoist the shield of Lübeck (directly on the black). Source: Decree (Verordnung) of the Lübeck Senate, 24th December 1921, in force on 1st January 1922. Neubecker 1929 initially had a wrong picture (Bild 30). The error was taken from the German Navy's 1926 Flaggenbuch, which showed the eagle instead of the shield. Both flags [the 1895-1921 and this one] are shown correctly in Dr. Ottfried Neubecker, Die deutschen Farben (The German Colours), 1928.
Ralf Stelter, 7 Feb 2001

[Martin and Dreyhaupt 2000 shows the following] Lübeck Dienstflagge: [national] Dientsflagge z. See (black-white-red with yellow shield with black-red eagle 1927 pattern in centre) with Lübeck arms (white over red shield) in [black] canton.
Lotsenverwaltung [pilots administration]: identical but with red letters L and V in each side of the [central] shield.
Fischereiaufsicht [fishery inspection]: identical but with red letters F and A [in each side of the central shield].
Jaume Ollé, 24 Jan 2001


Mistakenly reported State Ensign
Dated in some sources as 1921-c.1926

[Mistaken State Ensign 1921-c.1926 (Lübeck, Germany)] Image by Jaume Ollé
N.B. This ensign was never used, neither with a red nor with a white canton

The black-white-red flag with the national arms in the center (apparently slightly offset towards the hoist) with a square red canton covering the black stripe in which the black eagle of the State Flag 1850-1935. Thus the [1921-1926] national service flag with the canton. In use 1921-c.1926.
Norman Martin, 25 Feb 1998

Znamierowski 1999 shows (p. 23) two images from Neubecker 1929, one of them depicting the Dienstflagge für Staatsfahrzeuge der Seeschiffahrt which is very similar to the "State Ensign 1921-c.1926" though the canton appears to be white rather than red, as is described and illustrated above. There is also a question about the dates, since Norman Martin dates it 1921-c.1926 and Znamierowski 1999 says 1921-1935. The edition date of Neubecker 1929 would support Znamierowski 1999's dates. According to Norman Martin, a different canton (lesser arms on red) was used c.1926-1935. Maybe the changing date was 1929?
Santiago Dotor, 5 February 2001

1929 would have to be too late since the Brockhaus 1928 has the new one. I have a copy of Neubecker 1929 (with some cards apparently later than Znamierowski 1999's) but is certainly no earlier than 1926, nor later than 1930. It has the card in Znamierowski 1999 (Serie 2, Bild 30), but also one numbered Serie 2, Bild 30a, labelled Seeschiffahrtsdienstflagge (neueste offizielle Form) [which is like the State Ensign 1921-1934].
Norman Martin, 5 Feb 2001

[In] Neubecker 1929, picture 30 (the wrong design) was first labelled Dienstflagge für Staatsfahrzeuge der Seeschiffahrt, then it was labelled with the addition ältere Flagge (without number changing), thereafter came picture 30a with the correct flag but the mistaken text Freie Stadt Lübeck, later corrected to Freie und Hansestadt Lübeck.

The picture 30a should not have the text newest design [neueste offizielle Form], but corrected drawing, since what it means is that initially it had a wrong picture (Bild 30). The error was taken from the German Navy's 1926 Flaggenbuch, which showed the eagle instead of the shield. Both flags [the 1895-1921 and the 1921-1934] are shown correctly in Dr. Ottfried Neubecker, Die deutschen Farben (The German Colours), 1928.
Ralf Stelter, 6 and 7 Feb 2001


State Ensign 1934-1935
Dienstflagge für Staatsfahrzeuge der Seeschiffahrt/Service Flag for State Vessels (and State Maritime Buildings)

Dienstflagge für Staatsfahrzeuge und Staatsgebäude, die der Seeschiffahrt dienen: German state ensign 1933-1935, [with] heraldic eagle of Lübeck on a white field in the black stripe at the hoist. This flag is to be flown side by side the swastika flag ([paragraph] 2,1 reads, "ships fly the Dienstflagge at the stern, the swastika flag at the bow"). Source: Decree (Verordnung) of the Lübeck Senate, 3rd March 1934. Interesting is [paragraph] 3, "this decree comes to force on 1st February 1934".
Ralf Stelter, 7 Feb 2001


State Ensign used on Inland Waters 1903-1935
Staatsflagge für Staatsfahrzeuge der Binnenschiffahrt/State Flag for State Vessels in Inland Waters

[Inland Waters State Ensign 1903-1935 (Lübeck, Germany)] 2:3 Image by Jaume Ollé
N.B. The anchor should be coloured gold (not blue) and be oriented towards the bottom fly (not hoist)
Flag adopted 23rd December 1903, abolished 1935

Like the State Flag 1850-1935, but with in the lower hoist a gold anchor with a diagonal point directed towards the bottom left. In use from at least 1921 until 1935.
Norman Martin, 25 Feb 1998

Znamierowski 1999 shows (p. 23) two images from Neubecker 1929, one of them depicting the Staatsflagge für Staatsfahrzeuge der Binnenschiffahrt (ältere Flagge) which is very similar to the "State Ensign used on Inland Waters 1921-1935" only the anchor is shown tilted the other way (i.e. NW-SE) and coloured gold. Norman Martin describes it as gold indeed, but Jaume Ollé's image shows it blue. This flag is dated by Znamierowski 1999 (and by Norman Martin) as 1921-1935, however the ältere Flagge (i.e. former flag) caption makes me think whether this was no longer in use in 1929. I also find peculiar the use of the term Staatsflagge for this flag, as opposed to Dienstflagge for the State Ensign 1921-1934. Does it have any implications?
Santiago Dotor, 5 Feb 2001

My copy of Neubecker 1929 has (only) the flag with the gold anchor oriented as in [Jaume Ollé's] GIF, numbered Serie 2, Bild 29a and labelled Binnenschiffahrtsdienstfl. (ohne Anker: Staatsflagge) (neueste offizielle Form) [i.e. Inland Waters Service Ensign (without anchor: State Flag) (most recent official model)]. This would appear to confirm that there was a change between 1926 and 1930 (I would guess 1927 or 1928).
Norman Martin, 5 Feb 2001

The anchor is NW-SE and yellow, as shown in the German Navy's 1926 Flaggenbuch. I do not know when there was a change, but [in Neubecker 1929] picture 29a not only is the anchor NE-SW but the eagle has also changed. However it is possible that there was no change at all, since the eagle in picture 29a is the official version as decreed on 19 November 1890. So possibly the 1926 Flaggenbuch was again in error [as with the state ensign]. The Binnenschifffahrtsdienstflagge was introduced by Decree of 23rd December 1903. The flag was confirmed by Decree of 24th December 1921 (changing the Seeschifffahrtsdienstflagge) and by Decree of 3rd March 1934 (again changing the Seeschifffahrtsdienstflagge), [the] latter in combination with the swastika flag.

[As for its name,] maybe that the term Staatsflagge was chosen as this flag was used by all authorities, while the Dienstflagge was only used by one board (the Reichsbehörde zur See) or only for one purpose.
Ralf Stelter, 7 Feb 2001


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