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Bremen (Germany)

Free Hanseatic City of Bremen, Freie Hansestadt Bremen

Last modified: 2020-03-28 by klaus-michael schneider
Keywords: bremen | freie hansestadt bremen | chequy(hoist) | anchor | canton(white) | panel(white) | stripes(8) | key(bendy) | coronet |
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[Bremen (Germany)] 2:3      [State Flag with 'Middle' Arms (Bremen, Germany)] 2:3
images by M. Schmöger, 21 Sep 2001


See also:


Introduction

The current official flag usage is (according to Schurdel 1995):

  1. Staatsflagge mit Flaggenwappen [state flag with flag arms]: 12-striped with rectangle (covering 8 stripes) with greater arms [special design for flag usage]. In use since 1947.
  2. Staatsflagge mit mittlerem Wappen [state flag with middle arms]: 8-striped with rectangle (covering 4 stripes) with middle arms. In use since 1947.
  3. Landesdienstflagge der bremische Schiffahrt [state ensign]. Like the first, but with blue anchor in canton. In use since 1952.
In addition, the historic Landesflagge [civil flag] without the coat-of-arms appears to be in general use, also by private parties.
Norman Martin, 14 Sep 2000

In Schurdel 1995 there is also a reference to the decision of the 1890's, where it was said that the flag with the greater arms should have "at least" 12 stripes (it is obvioulsy implied that the flag could have more than 12 stripes!) and the flag with the lesser arms should have at least 8 stripes.
Elias Granqvist, 15 Sep 2000

Sources:

  • Laitenberger and Bassier 2000
  • Schurdel 1995
  • Stadler 1966
  • Kroker 2000
  • Hecker and Hoog 1978
  • Proclamation of 1891: Bekanntmachung, betreffend Vorschriften über das bremische Staatswappen vom 17. November 1891. Gesetzblatt der Freien Hansestadt Bremen 1891, S. 124-125 (Proclamation, regarding regulations on the Bremen state coat-of-arms of 17th November 1891. Law Gazette of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen 1891, pp. 124-125).
  • Regulation of 1891: Verordnung, betreffend den Gebrauch des Bremischen Staatswappens vom 17. November 1891. Gesetzblatt der Freien Hansestadt Bremen 1891, S. 123 (Regulation regarding the use of the Bremen state coat-of-arms of 14th May 1891. Law Gazette of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen 1891, p. 123).
  • Proclamation of 1895: Bekanntmachung, die Flaggenführung auf bremischen Staatsfahrzeugen und den ausschließlich den Zwecken der Seeschiffahrt dienenden Staatsgebäuden betreffend vom 27. Januar 1895. Gesetzblatt der Freien Hansestadt Bremen 1895, S. 7 (Proclamation, regarding the use of flags on Bremen state vessels and on state buildings exclusively serving the purpose of shipping of 27th January 1895. Law Gazette of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen 1895, p. 7).
  • Regulation of 1897: Verordnung, betreffend den Gebrauch des Bremischen Staatswappens vom 14. Mai 1897. Gesetzblatt der Freien Hansestadt Bremen 1897, S. 51-52 (Regulation regarding the use of the Bremen state coat-of-arms of 14th May 1897. Law Gazette of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen 1897, pp. 51-52).
  • Constitution of 1947: Landesverfassung der Freien Hansestadt Bremen vom 21. Oktober 1947. Gesetzblatt der Freien Hansestadt Bremen 1947, S. 251 ff. (Constitution of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen of 21st October 1947. Law Gazette of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen 1947, p. 251 ff.).
  • Proclamation of 1952: Bekanntmachung, betreffend Landesdienstflaggen der bremischen Schiffahrt vom 19. Sep 1952. Gesetzblatt der Freien Hansestadt Bremen 1952, S. 103 (Proclamation, regarding regulations on the state flags for the Bremen shipping. Law Gazette of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen 1952, p. 103).

The key legal prescriptions date from 1891. For the current situation also the 1947 constitution is important, which simply states (Art. 68): "Die Freie Hansestadt Bremen führt ihre bisherigen Wappen und Flaggen." — "The Free Hanseatic City Bremen uses its traditional coats-of-arms and flags."
M. Schmöger, 21 Sep 2001


Civil Flag

Landesflagge

[Bremen (Germany)] 2:3
by M. Schmöger
Flag first used ca. 1691

The flag has four red and four white horizontal stripes, at the hoist checked in two columns.
Jan Oskar Engene, 6 Dec 1995

In Bremen the city flag is nicknamed gestreifter Speck (striped bacon), because it looks like fresh red bacon with white strips of fat in it.
Nicolas Küker, 20 May 1998

A long explanation on the Bremen flag and coat-of-arms (in German) can be found at the obsolete Bremen Official Website. The text is interesting, but I will translate just one sentence, "Die Flagge ist rot und weiß mindestens achtmal gestreift (...)" — the flag is red and white with at least 8 stripes. On that site is a flag with 8 stripes. In Znamierowski 1999 is a flag with 8 stripes and the coat-of-arms, which is the same as Ralf Stelter's rendition in Fischers Weltalmanach 1999. There are at least two other cities with this kind of minimality. Rotterdam in the Netherlands (now just green-white-green, but I have seen one with 23 stripes) and Porto in Portugal with nearly the same pattern, green-white-green-white, often repeated many times.
Jarig Bakker, 14 Sep 2000

From the obsolete Bremen Official Website (my translation):

Bremen's Civil Flag (Landesflagge)
The flag is made up of at least eight red and white stripes, bordered at the hoist by two vertical red-white chequered stripes. The colours of the flag were probably taken from the medieval imperial assault flag (Reichssturmfahne), which showed a white cross on a red field. This became in the Middle Ages a component of many national emblems. As early as 1227, Lübeck fought in the Bornhövede battle under red-white flags. The city's account books let us know that in the 16th century red and white silk was bought to produce a flag.
An extract from the Commentary to the 1947 Constitution of Bremen by Theodor Spitta follows, in which deliberations previous to the 1849, 1854, 1920 and 1947 Constitutions of Bremen are commented, concluding that on the first two occassions the symbols of Bremen were not discussed, whereas in 1920 the big debate over the German flag advised not to make any changes and in 1947 the lack of knowledge about Germany's future advised to use the traditional symbols.
Worth quoting is the current Constitution, "Artikel 68: Die Freie Hansestadt Bremen führt ihre bisherigen Wappen und Flaggen" that is, "Article 68: The Free Hanseatic City of Bremen shall use its traditional coat-of-arms and flags".
The webpage ends indicating that, "The standard specifications for the State Coat-of-Arms and Flag of Bremen includes the Bulletin of the [Bremen] Senate regarding (?) Regulations of the Coat-of-Arms and Flag of Bremen, of November 17th 1891 (Bekanntmachung des Senats betr. Vorschriften über das bremische Staatswappen, vom 17. November 1891), Law Bulletin of Bremen p.124 (Brem.Ges.-Bl. S. 124)."
Source: Stadler 1966, p.81ff
Santiago Dotor, 19 Sep 2000

The Landesflagge (civil flag) is the well-known flag of several —at least eight— stripes of red and white, at the hoist two columns of squares counterchanged of red and white. It is called Speckflagge or Specksnieder in Bremen, because it looks like bacon (Speck) with stripes of fat in it. According to Schurdel 1995 and Stadler 1966 the first proven occurrence of this flag dates from 1691, and it has been used continuously since then in Bremen.

This flag as well —as the below described state flags— have at least eight stripes, but may contain more stripes. This is similar to Bavaria, where the law says that the flags must have at least 21 lozenges. However, this simple flag without any arms is certainly today not as popular as the variants with the arms.
M. Schmöger, 21 Sep 2001


State Flag with 'Middle' Coat-of-Arms

Staatsflagge mit mittlerem Wappen

[State Flag with 'Middle' Coat-of-Arms (Bremen, Germany)] 2:3
image by M. Schmöger, 21 Sep 2001

The state flags have at least eight stripes and contain the arms in a rectangular white field in the center. The state flags —with the arms, be it the 'middle' or the flag arms— may be used by normal citizens as well (Regulations of 1891 and 1897). If a state flag has only eight stripes, it contains the middle coat-of-arms. This pattern is prescribed in the Proclamation of 1891. In many books —including Laitenberger and Bassier 2000 and Schurdel 1995— the white field is fimbriated red; however, this is not prescribed in the regulations, though flags are produced both with and without the fimbriation. The 'middle' coat-of-arms in my image is based on the one in the Bremen website.
M. Schmöger, 21 Sep 2001

Siegel 1912 shows a square, not merely rectangular, panel. Also, it uses a black outline to indicate the square —this is not merely for the colour painter as a Lübeck flag has the white square around the eagle merge with the white upper stripe—. The effect is that the stripe pattern isn't damaged as severely as it is when the stripes merge with the square.

Finally, it uses for the middle arms a much more 'Polish' shield. So much so that it approaches a diamond shape, except where the top has to support the crown. Sign of the times?
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 22 Sep 2001


State Flag with 'Flag' Coat-of-Arms

Staatsflagge mit Flaggenwappen

[State Flag with 'Flag' Coat-of-Arms (Bremen, Germany)] 2:3
by M. Schmöger

This variant of the state flag is the one with at least twelve stripes. It contains in a white rectangular field the so-called 'flag arms' (Flaggenwappen), a variant of the greater coat-of-arms. This flag was also prescribed in the Proclamation of 1891. There is no difference in the use of the two versions of the state flag: both can be used by state authorities and by the citizens. In many books —including Laitenberger and Bassier 2000 and Schurdel 1995— the white field is fimbriated red; however, this is not prescribed in the regulations, though flags are produced both with and without the fimbriation. The 'flag arms' in my image is based on the one in the Bremen website.
M. Schmöger, 21 Sep 2001

Siegel 1912 does not extend the number of stripes when using the middle and flag coats-of-arms. Instead of the four stripes covered by the middle arms, the flag coat-of-arms covers six of the stripes.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 22 Sep 2001


State Flag for Shipping, also Jack for State Vessels

Landesdienstflagge der bremischen Schiffahrt

[State Flag for Shipping, also Jack for State Vessels (Bremen, Germany)] 2:3
by M. Schmöger
Flag adopted 1952

The flag with an anchor in the canton is the state ensign, in use between 1891 to 1892, but was re-established 1952 for use on the Navigation buildings.


Jaume Ollé (?), 4 October 1998

The above text is taken from Schurdel 1995, pp. 128-129. The 1952 law says it was used for government authorities ships, and also corresponding government buildings.
Norman Martin, 14 Sep 2000

The Landesdienstflagge der bremischen Schiffahrt (state flag of Bremen shipping) is the state flag with 'flag' arms containing additionally a blue anchor in a white canton. This was first prescribed in the Proclamation of 1891; however, at this time both variants of the state flag —with the 'middle' arms or the 'flag' arms— could be used. It was actually used as a state ensign, i.e. an ensign for ships in public service (police, customs, pilot). Its use was discontinued with the standardization of German state ensigns after 1892. The relevant regulation in Bremen was the Proclamation of 1895.
In the Proclamation of 1952 this flag was re-introduced, however now only the state flag with 'flag' coat-of-arms is prescribed as state ensign. The state flag of Bremen shipping actually is not a state ensign any longer, being used as state flag on buildings that are concerned with shipping. Furthermore it is used on Bremen state ships, but not as ensign (the German state flag is used as ensign); it is hoisted at the jackstaff and at the top of the mast. The 'flag arms' in my image is based on the one in the Bremen website.
M. Schmöger, 21 Sep 2001

Siegel 1912 shows this flag with the canton half a stripe higher, so it does not 'fit' a round number of stripes.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 22 Sep 2001


Coats-of-Arms

[Middle Arms (Bremen, Germany)]
image located by Santiago Dotor, 19 Sep 2000
[Flag Coat-of-Arms (Bremen, Germany)]
image located by Santiago Dotor, 19 Sep 2000
[Greater Arms (Bremen, Germany)]
image located by Santiago Dotor, 19 Sep 2000
[Lesser Arms (Bremen, Germany)]
image located by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 10 Mar 2020
       

From the Bremen Official Website (my translation):


Middle Arms (see left image above):
The Coat-of-Arms of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen shows a silver key on a red field [Gules, a key Argent]. The key is the attribute of Saint Peter, patron saint of the church of Bremen, and it was first represented in the seal of the City of Bremen in 1366 and later became the main element of the city's coat-of-arms.
Flag Coat-of-Arms (see central left image above):
The Flag Coat-of-Arms appears on the seal of the President of the (Bremen) Senate.
Greater Arms (see central right image above):
The Greater Arms appears on the official seals of Bremen's goverment departments.

Santiago Dotor, 19 Sep 2000

The Proclamation (Bekanntmachung) of 1891 describes four different variants of the arms:

  1. Großes Wappen (greater arms)
  2. Flaggenwappen ("flag" arms): The name "Flaggenwappen" is not really official, however it is frequently used. It is basically a variation of the greater arms.
  3. Mittleres Wappen (middle arms): This is the well-known red shield with the silver key, and a golden crown over the shield.
  4. Kleines Wappen (lesser arms): This is only the silver key without any shield. It is basically used as a seal image (the other variants of the arms as well, of course), see an example here.

M. Schmöger, 21 Sep 2001

A grey key alone without shield nowadays is considered as Lesser Arms (see right image above).
Source: German WIKIPEDIA
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 10 Mar 2020


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