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War Ensign 1935-1938 (Germany)

Reichskriegsflagge

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[War Ensign 1935-1938 (Third Reich, Germany)] 3:5       Image by Olivier Vercammen
Flag adopted 5th October 1935, modified February 1938


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Description and Discussion

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

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. This flag replaced the 1933 ensign.
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

Is the Reichskriegsflagge (war ensign) flown only on a naval vessel or was it flown in other places? The flags I have seen in period footage/documentaries are usually the "standard" Nazi flag (like the armband) but have seen movie(s) trying to be "authentic" flying the Reichskriegsflagge in Stalingrad or other inland places.
anonymous, 21 Oct 2003

It had to be flown daily at all Wehrmacht installations, preferably at the entrance, otherwise near the guard room or staff building. (Brian Davis, Flags of the Third Reich).
Miles Li, 21 Oct 2003

I have seen a number of period photos of German army installations flying this flag. So it appears to have been used by the army as well as the navy. I would be interested in knowing what regulations governed its use.
Devereaux Cannon, 21 Oct 2003

The 1935-45 Reichskriegsflagge was indeed used by army units. I saw them myself at barracks in Normandy and in Bavaria. I believe indeed that they replaced the unit flags after the July 20, 1944 assassination attempt.
Norman Martin, 21 Oct 2003

The "Decree about the Reichskriegsflagge, the jack of the warships, the merchant flag with the iron cross and the flag of the Minister of war and supreme commander of the Wehrmacht" (5 Oct 1935) says: ..."The Reichskriegsflagge is the national emblem of the Wehrmacht. The flag shall be shown on the Kriegsmarine (navy) warships, on the Luftwaffe (airforce) airplanes and the buildungs of the entire Wehrmacht."
Jörg Karaschewski, 21 Oct 2003

Which makes this one of the very few genuine "war flags" in the FIAV sense of the term, most so-called "war flags" actually being organizational flags of the armed forces, not national emblems.
Joe McMillan, 23 Oct 2003


Reichskriegsflagge - 1st and 2nd pattern

[Reichskriegsflagge - 1st pattern] 1st   [Reichskriegsflagge - 2nd pattern] 2nd
Images by Olivier Vercammen, 13 Oct 200

Here are both the 1st and the 2nd patten flags.

  1. They came in a few popular sizes: 80x135 - 100x170 - 150x250 - 200x335 - 300x500 (all in centimeters).
  2. They have normally all a stamp of the constructor and size (in cm or in meter e.g. 0.80x1.35).
  3. Most of them (but not all) have a marking with an eagle over a kapital M, which means the flag was Kriegsmarine approved
  4. .
  5. Normally 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

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

Flown at the top of the mainmast on the anniversary of the Battle of Jutland (Skagerrak)

Unknown Reichskriegsflagge Pennant


Speculative image by Pete Loeser, 14 June 2011

I hope you can help me identify a pennant I found amongst my late grandfather's possessions. He served in the U.S. Navy and I assume he brought the pennant home as a trophy from WW2. The pennant is triangular, measures approx. 12-1/2 inches long by 8-1/4 inches at the wide hoisting end; loop and clip still attached. The design is exactly that of the 1935-1938 reichskriegsflagge. It is two-sided, made of a durable cloth, with lots of chain stitching. I've exhausted all means of research available to me (which isn't that much) and I cannot find either a reference to, or a photo of, this pennant. Can you help?
Michelle, 5 Dec 2006


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