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Civil Flag and Ensign c.1843-1845 (Schleswig-Holstein, Germany)

Last modified: 2019-07-30 by german editorial team
Keywords: schleswig-holstein | schleswig-holstein-sonderburg-augustenburg |
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[Civil Flag (Schleswig-Holstein, Germany)] 2:3
by Santiago Dotor
Flag introduced c.1843, banned 31 July 1845, reintroduced 1867, unofficially adopted 1920, abolished 1935, unofficially readopted 1948, officially 1957

See also:


The blue-white-red tricolour of Schleswig-Holstein dates from 1844, when it was introduced at the song festival in the city of Schleswig in June that year. The colours were taken from the coat of arms of Schleswig-Holstein. Schleswig is two blue lions on gold, while Holstein is a white nettle leaf on red. The earliest versions of the tricolour seem to have been banners decorated with the arms and various emblems for the associations that owned them, but it also seems that ordinary blue-white-red flags were used. Sometimes the flags would be charged with the arms, other times they were not. The Schleswig-Holstein blue-white-red flag was from the start the rallying point of the anti-Danish, pro-German forces that wanted the duchy to become a part of united Germany. The flag was banned by Danish authorities 31 July 1845.

From 1867 the whole of Schleswig-Holstein was a province of Prussia, but the blue-white-red was never officially recognized. Such recognition first came when Schleswig-Holstein became a Land [State] in the Weimar republic. The northern part of Schleswig had then joined Denmark after a series of plebiscites [c.1920]. In 1948, blue, white, and red was adopted as the colours of Schleswig-Holstein in the Federal Republic of Germany, but only in 1957 was a law on the flag adopted. The current arms of the Danish county of Southern Jutland (Sonderjylland, incorporating the [northern] part of Schleswig that voted for Denmark) shows the two blue lions holding a pennant-shaped Dannebrog banner. The lions are facing the observer's left. In the arms of the German Land Schleswig-Holstein, the lions are turned so that they face the arms of Holstein — looking south to Germany in other words. There are still linguistic minorities on both sides of the Danish-German border.


  • Jessen-Klingenberg 1994 [jes94];
  • Henningsen 1969 [hen69]

Jan Oskar Engene, 12 November 1996

The blue, white, red flag appeared 1844, was forbidden in 31 July 1845, and reappeared in 1846. The german colors (black, red, yellow) were introduced on 2 May 1848 and on 21 October 1848 a heraldic ensign [dating from] 1696, was added. The blue, white, red flag also reappeared but was forbidden [by Denmark] in Schleswig on 9 February 1851 and 6 May 1854, until the prohibition was supressed by Prussia and Austria on 19 February 1864. (...) The blue, white, red flag was never made official, but was used commonly. Source: Ottfried Neubecker, Vexilla Belgica [vxb] 1981.

Jaume Ollé, June or July 1998

Was the blue-white-red flag adopted (in 1843 or 1844) and then abolished a year later (1845)?

Santiago Dotor, 22 February 2001

The blue-white-red flag was not officially adopted by anybody, it was introduced by the growing German national movement which was in opposition to the Danish policies in the duchies. This also explains its prohibition by Danish authorities. It was an unofficial flag up to the official adoption by the Land after the Second World War. (...) According to Jessen-Klingenberg 1994 [jes94], the blue-white-red flag was prohibited in both Schleswig and Holstein by a decree dated 31 July 1845, a ban that was repeated twice that same year. Maybe the ban was repeated also later. I have no idea what the [9 February] 1851 and [6 May] 1854 dates refer to.

Jan Oskar Engene, 22 February 2001

Flag Variant 1843 (also reported as Landesfarben 1897)

[Flag Variant 1843 (Schleswig-Holstein, Germany)] 2:3
by Jorge Candeias

According to Mattern and Neubecker 1988 [mne88], this 4-color flag was a variant used in the 1843-1845 period as a flag for the combined Schleswig-Holstein (since it had all the colors of the arms). It never acquired the popularity of the tricolor. It was also the house flag of the legitimate Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg dynasty.

Norman Martin, 22 February 2001

This flag appears as the Landesfarben of the Schleswig-Holstein province in Ströhl 1897 [stl97], p. 91 (and chart XXI ill. 24), with the same explanation of incorporating the same colours as the arms, which in turn are used for the feathers maing up the plume of one of the supporters. Translating (from memory):

Even if these colours have not yet been officially approved, the fact that the plume of the knight [the sinister supporter] on the greater arms [of the province] displays these colours, suggests that there shall be no obstacle for the royal approval. During the war against Denmark, Schleswig-Holstein flew the colours blue-white-red.
In all other Prussian provinces, the colours of the plume in the knight (sinister supporter)'s helmet in the greater arms match the officially adopted Landesfarben. It is strange that Ströhl 1897 [stl97] makes no reference to the 1843-1845 blue-white-red flag being used in 1897 as provincial Landesfarben.

Santiago Dotor, 6 May 2002