Last modified: 2021-08-25 by christopher oehler
Keywords: norway | norwegian nazi party | sun cross | st olaf cross | sun eagle | hirdmarinen | scandinavian cross |
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The flags sent by Paige Herring were used by Hirdmarinen, a naval subsection of the Norwegian Nazi party, in the years from 1942 to 1945.
Note that the Flaggenbuch is in error with these flags: The sun cross emblem was red and yellow, not red and white. Also note that the Hirdmarine flags were not the only flags used by Quisling's party. They only represented a little known (and not very important) subsection of the party, and one which seems to be more known abroad (thanks to the Flaggenbuch and the reprint of it) than in Norway itself.
The Nasjonal Samling (NS, in English most often called National Unity) was established in 1933. From the outset NS had a set of symbols consisting of  :
In Viking and times, the circle of warriors and advisors close to the king was called the hird. The NS was much inspired by this golden age of Norwegian history, and in 1934 adopted the name for its equivalents of the German SA and Hitler Youth. This had originally been known as the Spesialavdelingen (Special Department). Later, the Hird unit for adult men was known as the Rikshirden (loosely translated as National Hird), while hird became the general label applied to several military style subsections of the NS (including organizations for women and children).
The full panoply of NS emblems and flags came with the German occupation. A ban on political uniforms, introduced in 1935 and effectively enforced, was lifted in the autumn of 1940. Furthermore, the NS became the only legal party. On 1 February 1942, Vidkun Quisling was appointed Minister President by the occupying power. In theory he was in charge of the civilian government of Norway and the NS party was to be fused with the state. In reality, though, power remained with the German Reichscommissar, Josef Terboven.
The symbol of the hird, later the Rikshirden, was the Sun Cross with the addition of two upwards pointing yellow swords all set on a black field. Rikshirden had a military style organizational structure with an elaborate system of flags. Other divisions of the hird, and other subsections of the NS party, had similar flag systems, but with different colours for the fields of their flags  .
Though it was always unarmed, the hird was hierarchical, or military, in its organizational structure . The basic unit was the lag (literally team, may also be translated as section or even squad in American English), consisting of a leader and 11 men. Three of these sections made up a tropp (platoon or troop) led by a troop staff. Three troops and one reserve troop made up a sveit (district unit) led by a sveit staff. Two to five sveit made up a fylking (loosely, and not entirely correctly, translated as county unit) led by a sveit staff.
The Hirdmarinen, or in English the Naval Hird, was set up in early 1942 (May according to one source ). Its symbols were approved by Vidkun Quisling on 11 September 1942, according to an article in the German magazine Uniformenmarkt . There was also a youth section of the Naval Hird, Unghirdmarinen, set up 5 March 1942 . It seems there were no special symbols for the youth section.
Naval hird symbols are different from those of other hird organizations. The Naval hird used the Norwegian war ensign as the basis for the organizational flag. For other flags a special emblem with the Sun Eagle set on an anchor was used. Note that whereas other 'hird' organizations for men (Rikshirden, Unghirden, Guttehirden) had two swords added to the sun cross, the Naval Hird used the plain Sun Cross otherwise only used by Hird sections for women (Kvinnehirden, Gjentehirden, Smahirden). The swordless sun cross also served as the general party emblem  . This is a bit strange, and I have not found an explanation for it.
The emblem and flags of the Hirdmarinen, Naval Hird, were:
A yellow (gold) anchor set with the NS party emblem, the Sun Eagle in yellow and red. Note again that the illustration of the badge in the Flaggenbuch  reprint is wrong in that the sun cross is shown in red and white. It should be red and yellow.
The Norwegian war ensign with the Naval Hird emblem set on a blue rectangular field narrowly edged in yellow (gold) placed in the intersection of the arms of the cross. The rectangle was to be 15:29 cm, with the yellow (gold) border 2 cm and the emblem 26 cm wide .
The Naval Hird emblem on a square blue field. The flag was to be 40:40 cm and the emblem 30 c, wide .
The rank flag of the Leader (Förer, the Flaggenbuch uses the term Hirdmarineführer) of the Naval Hird was a rectangular blue flag set with the Naval Hird emblem in the centre and a white five-pointed star in the canton. The flag was 55:80 cm, the emblem 40 cm wide . In the Uniformenmarkt article, the star is four-pointed but the colour is not shown .
The rank flag of the Naval Hird County Leader was the same as above, but without the star. The Flaggenbuch translates Fylkingsförer as Distriktsführer. I find district a more fitting label for sveit (which originally meant a group of warriors), so I use the term County Leader. The term fylking does not directly translate as county. Historically the word fylking meant "army (formation) deployed for battle", later it took on the meaning "group of people united by a common goal". The Norwegian word for county is fylke. Usually, a fylking covered the territory of a county, fylke.
The rank flag of the Naval Hird District Leader was in the shape of a broad pennant with a blue field, 55:80 cm overall and with the swallowtail 25 cm both high and wide . The Naval Hird emblem was to be 40 cm wide. The term used in the Flaggenbuch supplement is Abschnittsführer, but I think Sveitförer is more appropriately labelled District Leader in English.
The troop leader had a triangular pennant in blue, 55:100 cm and with the emblem 40 cm wide.
The Flaggenbuch term is Marinesveitführer. I am not sure of German military terminology and why sveit is here used for a different level in the hierarchy compared with the original Norwegian.
The Naval Hird senior officer's pennant was triangular, had a blue field 55:100 cm, and was charged with a yellow (gold) anchor 22 cm high set 30 cm from the hoist.
The Naval Hird pennant was blue, 17:200 cm, had a swallowtail 70 cm wide and was set with the Naval Hird emblem 12 cm wide.
The Uniformenmarkt article says that the name of the unit was to be inscribed in the upper hoist using Runic typeface (colour not mentioned). This was standard practice for Hird flags. The colours seem to have been yellow (gold) for Hird sections for adults, and white (silver) for youth sections  . Inscriptions are not mentioned in the Flaggenbuch reprint.
The only sources I have for these flags are German. The flags are not mentioned in the NS Arbok 1944, the 1944 party yearbook (printed 1943). This book has black and white illustrations of other flags and also illustrations of emblems, uniforms and insignia. The lack of Norwegian sources (and German translations of Norwegian terms) makes me unsure of the organizational structure of the Naval Hird. I have assumed it was similar to that of other Hird organizations. According to the NS yearbook , and also Littlejohn , the ranks of the Naval Hird were identical to that of the Unghirden (Youth Hird). Anyway, I hope to have made the historical background of these flags a bit more clear.SOURCES:
-  Supplement 135a to the reprint of the Flaggenbuch (Flg. B., ("Das grosse Flaggenbuch"), (Berlin 1939), Zwickau, 1992
-  "Die Flaggen der Hirdmarine", Uniformenmarkt, 15 August 1943
-  Orvar Saether: Hirdboken, Oslo, 1941
-  NS Arbok 1944, Gjövik, 1943
-  Hans Fredrik Dahl et al.: Norsk Krigsleksikon 1940-45, Oslo, 1995
-  David Littlejohn: Foreign Legions of the Third Reich. Vol. 1. Norway, Denmark, France, San Jose, 1979
Jan Oskar Engene, 26 March 1998
The Quisling regime's idea was to turn the party's naval section, Hirdmarinen, into a navy, but they never got as far as establishing a real navy. What the Hirdmarinen did was to train volunteers, some of them ending up in the German navy.
The real Norwegian navy, the Royal Norwegian Navy, continued to fly the
Norwegian naval ensign from bases in the UK.
Jan Oskar Engene, 20 July 1998
The activities of Hirdmarinen are usually only briefly described in the
literature. The aim was that Hirdmarinen was to form the core of a future
Norwegian navy, but this aim was never achieved. Emphasis seems to have been on
training in seamanship, though this also appears to have been limited. The 4-500
seamen recruited through Hirdmarinen for service in the German navy were trained
in Germany. As far as vessels are concerned, Hirdmarinen took possession of a
sea scout yacht in Oslo and the activities seem to have been concentrated to
this single ship. However, this vessel sank in the winter of 1943-44. When about
the same time Hirdmarinen personnel were transferred to other sections of
Hirden, activities more or less ceased and the section existed mostly in name
until liberation. The rather elaborate system of flags approved for Hirdmarinen
may have existed on paper, but it is far from clear that they were in full use
at sea. Use on land was probably also very limited.
Jan Oskar Engene, 9 August 2004