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Municipality of Helgoland (Germany)

Gemeinde Helgoland (Heligoland), Kreis Pinneberg, Schleswig-Holstein

Last modified: 2017-04-13 by klaus-michael schneider
Keywords: helgoland | heligoland | tricolour |
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[Helgoland flag] 3:5 image by Jörg Majewski, 17 Jun 2006

Other Helgoland pages: See also:

Historical Introduction

Helgoland is an island in the North Sea, strategically placed vis-a-vis the mouths of the Weser, Elbe and Kiel Canal. Heligoland, previously part of Schleswig, was ceded by the Danes to Britain in 1814 as part of the post-Napoleonic settlements. In 1890, as a result of the Zanzibar Treaty, it was ceded to Germany in exchange for commercial rights in Zanzibar and annexed to Schleswig-Holstein (at that time part of Prussia).
Roy Stilling, 15 Dec 1995 and Norman Martin, 30 May 1998

Helgoland is a small (1 sq km, pop. 1,650) island, with 61-meter-high cliffs, lying 70 km from the German mainland, formerly a strategic stronghold in the North Sea. A map of the island can be seen at the Helgoland official website (German text only). Heligoland was formerly Heyligeland, i.e. "holy land." According to legend, on the island once stood a temple built for the Germanic god Fosite, who was awesome enough to keep the pirates away. Read more in this BerlinOnline article about Helgoland stamps.
Santiago Dotor, 28 Sep 2000

Helgoland was occupied by the British in 1807 to use it as a base against Napoleonic continental Europe, and formally ceded to Britain by the Duke of Schleswig (and King of Denmark) in the Treaty of Kiel 14 Jan 1814, and given to Germany by the Treaty of Zanzibar, also called Treaty of Helgoland-Zanzibar, 10 Aug 1890. It was again occupied by the British from 8 May 1945 until 1 March 1952.
Santiago Dotor, 28 Sep 2000

Civil Flag and Ensign

[Heligoland (Germany)] 2:3  image by Jorge Candeias

A horizontal tricolour green over red over white was in use as local flag since the 19th Century until the present.
Norman Martin, Mar 1998

Heligoland's flag is now green-red-white. The colours symbolize the island: the green land, the red cliffs and the white sand. It is flown by local vessels instead of the German flag and as a guest-flag on ships visiting the island. In 1990 there was a special edition of flags in respect of the 100th aniversary of the handover by the British, but with an additional white "100" in the center.
Christian Meyer, 25 Aug 1998

A rhyme in local dialect says, "Grön is dat Land, rood is de Kant, witt is de Sand, dat is de Flagg vun't hillige Land", i.e. "green is the land, red is the cliff, white is the sand, that is the flag of our holy land."
Santiago Dotor, 26 Sep 2000

Coat of Arms

Description of coat of arms:
Twice divided per fess into green, red and white.
Meaning:
Usually armorial flags are made based upon the arms. In case of Helgoland we have the other way round, a vexillogical coat of arms based upon the ensign. 1696 Duke Friedrich IV of Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorf granted ensigns to all his cities and regions, among those also Helgoland. According to source all the flags had a canton in common, showing the lions of Schleswig. In this time Helgoland gained the green-red-white ensign. Although there had existed already a seal since 1600, the ensign became the base of the coat of arms. This is remarkable, as the colours don't match heraldic rules. Since the 19th century the colours were symbolizing land (green), cliffs (red) and sands (white).
Source: Reißmann 1997 , p.173
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 8 Nov 2012


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