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Haut-Rhin (Department, France)

Last modified: 2021-07-14 by ivan sache
Keywords: haut-rhin |
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Flag of Haut-Rhin - Image by Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 24 October 2009

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Administrative data

Code: 68
Region: Grand Est (Alsace until 2014)
Traditional province: Alsace
Bordering departments: Bas-Rhin, Vosges, Territoire de Belfort
Bordering countries: Germany (Federal State of Baden-Württemberg), Switzerland (Cantons of Basel-City, Basel-Land, Jura and Solothurn)

Area: 3,525 km2
Population (2015): 762,743 inhabitants

Préfecture: Colmar
Sous-préfectures: Altkirch, Mulhouse, Thann
Subdivisions: 4 arrondissements, 17 cantons, 366 municipalities.

The department is named ("Upper-Rhine") after river Rhine.

The Collectivité européenne d'Alsace (CeA; Alsatian: D'Europäischa Gebiatskärwerschàft Elsàss) was established as the merger of the departments of Bas-Rhin and Haut-Rhin, voted on 25 July 2019 by the French Parliament, with effect on 1 January 2021.
The new collectivity has the competencies of a department and some other of a region. The departments of Bas-Rhin and Haut-Rhin do not exist anymore as territorial collectivities with elected Departmental Councils, but only as administrative dfistricts for the action of the pré, who represents the State in each department.

Olivier Touzeau, 13 February 2021

Flag of Haut-Rhin

Since 2000, the flag of the department of Haut-Rhin is hoisted over the building of the General Council at Colmar and over several town halls in the department, for instance Mulhouse (photo).
The flag is a banner of the arms of the department, De gueules à la bande d'or accompagnée de six couronnes d'or ("Gules a bend between six crowns bendwise or"), officially granted on 5 May 1948.

The department of Haut-Rhin uses the arms of the County (Landgraviate) of Upper-Alsace, suppressed in 1648 by the Peace of Westphalia. The arms appeared for the first time in 1418 on a seal of Ernest the Iron, Duke of Austria (1377-1424). The tinctures of the arms were given in Conrad Grünenberg's Wappenbuch (Armorial), dated 1483. The Habsburg took control of Upper-Alsace in the 11th century but did not use specific arms until 1418. The use of crowns as charges highlights the aspiration of the Habsburg to royalty; the crowns might refer to the three King Magi, who were deeply venerated at the time in the Rhine valley. An erudite close to Emperor Maximilian I (1459-1519) wrote in 1507 that the six crowns of the blazon of [Upper-] Alsace recalled that Alsace was one of the six entities that formed the old Kingdom of Burgundy.
Until the incorporation into the Kingdom of France, Alsace did not form a single political entity and, therefore, could not have arms. At the end of the 17th century, the Armorial Général ascribed to Alsace the arms of the Holy Roman Empire, "Or a double-headed eagle sable". In practice, these arms were not used but replaced by the juxtaposition of the arms of Upper and Lower-Alsace. The arms of the two parts of Alsace were eventually merged into a single shield divided per pale. This coat of arms appeared on the frontispiece of Laguille's Histoire de la province d'Alsace, published in 1727.
The design of the arms of Alsace was confirmed in 1948 by the Préfets of the two departments of Haut-Rhin and Bas-Rhin, with a modification. For the sake of symmetry and aesthetics, it was required to mirror one of the halves of the arms, changing a bend to a bend sinister and eventually forming a chevron. While Laguille had mirrored the arms of Upper-Alsace, Bas-Rhin, by courtesy, mirrored its arms in 1948.
[Armorial des Communes du Haut-Rhin]

Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 10 November 2012

Former Departmental Council of Haut-Rhin


Flag of the Departmental Council of Haut-Rhin - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 4 May 2019

The flag of the Departmental Council of Haut-Rhin (photo) is white with the Council's logo.
In 2015, General Councils were renamed to Departmental Councils. The Departmental Council modified its logo, replacing the words "Conseil général" by the words "Conseil départemental".

Olivier Touzeau, 4 May 2019

Former General Council of Haut-Rhin


Flag of the General Council of Haut-Rhin - Image by Ivan Sache, 8 November 2009

The flag of the General Council of Haut-Rhin is white with the General Council's logo
The logo of the General Council of Haut-Rhin, adopted in 2005, shows a close-up of a photo of the department's flag, flanked by the writing "Conseil Général" (top) and "Haut-Rhin" (bottom), in blue letters.

Pascal Vagnat, 8 November 2009

Parish Community of Saint Martin sur Ill et Largue


Flag of the Parish Community of Saint Martin sur Ill et Largue - Image by Ivan Sache, 18 May 2014

Parish Communities (communautés de paroisses) have been established by the Roman Catholic church in Alsace-Moselle due to the decline of the number of priests, no longer sufficient to allocate a priest to each and every parish.
The Statutes of the Parish Communities (text) defines them as "pastoral grouping made of several Parishes, which are encouraged to elaborate and implement a common pastoral, while keeping their proper identity" (Article; "the [single] priest exercizes the pastoral office of the Parish Community under the authority of the bishop" (Article The Parish is further defined as "the Catholic community of a village or a borough [...]. It is part of a Parish Community handled over to a pastoral management team, placed under the responsibility of its [single] priest." (Article 2.1.1).

The Parish Community of Saint Martin sur Ill et Largue (website), located in southern Alsace, is part of the Deanery of Altkirch, one of the 51 deaneries forming the Diocese of Strasbourg. The Community groups the eight parishes of Heldwiller, Illfurth, Luemschwiller, Saint-Bernard, Spechbach-le-Bas, Spechbach-le-Haut, Tagolsheim and Walheim. It is named for its patron saint, St. Martin, and for the two rivers, Ill and Largue, watering its territory.

The flag of the Parish Community of Saint Martin sur Ill et Largue (community website) was unveiled on 13 November 2005 during the ceremony of inauguration of the community. Since then, it has been displayed in the cloister of the presbytery of Illfurth.
The flag is vertically divided yellow-white, on the model of the flag of the Holy See.

The shield in the middle of the flag comes from the logo of the Intermunicipal Authority of the Illfurth Sector (Communauté de Communes du Secteur d'Illfurth; website), recalling that 8 out of the 10 municipalities of the Illfurth Sector form the Parish Community. The use of the logo was authorized by the Intermunicipal Authority upon request of the Pastoral Council of the Parish Community. The logo has been "modernized" since the design of the flag, while keeping the ten coloured dots representing the ten municipalities and the two arrows representing intermunicipal connections.
The red cross symbolizes Christian faith into dead and resurrected Jesus Christ. It is placed in the heart of the flag, that is, in the heart of the Church, in the heart of our villages, and in the heart of our lives.
The eight doves - five blue and two green - symbolize the eight parishes forming the community. The two different colours recall that the community was formed as the merger of two former parish sectors:
- Carrefour des Rivières (Rivers' Crossing): Heidwiller, Illfurth, Luemschwiller, Tagolsheim and Walheim;
- Terres du Canal (Canal Lands): Saint-Bernard, Spechbach-le-Bas and Spechbach-le-Haut.
Although similar, the doves are indeed different in the details, highlighting the diversity of the parishes and the resources of the community. They all fly in the same, heavenwards direction, highlighting our unity and the strength of the momentum that boosts us towards progress.

Ivan Sache, 18 May 2014