Monday, 7 August 2017
Flag of the Week: Germany
Continuing with my series of world flags, this is the flag of Germany. It's one of the boring flags so common in Europe, simply three stripes, black, red and yellow.
Germany was founded as a nation in 1871, but this flag has only been in use from 1919 to 1933 and 1949 to the present. These are the other flags that have been used in Germany:
From 1871 to 1919 a black-white-red flag was used. One of the demands placed on Germany after losing the First World War was that the flag should be changed. This led to the introduction of the black-red-yellow flag shown above.
When the Nazi Party won the election in 1933, one of the first things they did was change the flag back to the black-white-red design. This was only a temporary measure. In September 1935 a variant of the Nazi party's flag was adopted as the German flag: a black swastika in a white circle, with a red background. In the Nazi party's flag the white circle was in the centre of the flag. For the German flag the circle was slightly left of centre.
After losing the Second World War Germany was once more required to change its flag. This is curious. I don't know of any other country that's been forced to change its flag after losing a war. At first there was no agreement on what flag should be used, so Germany had no flag at all until 1949. Finally it was decided to use the black-red-yellow flag of 1919 once more. Curiously, from 1949 to 1959 West Germany (the Federal Republic of Germany) and East Germany (the German Democratic Republic) both used the same flag.
In 1959 East Germany decided to end the confusion by changing its flag. The black-red-yellow design was retained, but the country's national emblem was put in the foreground: a circle of rye, a hammer and a compass, symbolising the population's three classes: the farmer, the worker and the intellectual.
Which of the four flags do I like most? Speaking from a purely aesthetic point of view, the swastika flag is the most attractive. My only criticism is that the white circle is off-centre. In the case of the Union Jack the lack of symmetry makes the flag look appealing, but in the case of the swastika flag the design looks wrong, as if it's been badly drawn.
The East German flag looks too complex. The hammer and compass are attractive, but the rye should have been simplified. In keeping with German tradition, it could have been replaced by the rye from the previous national emblem, preferably with the rye being stretched to the top instead of using the black lines.
As for the other two flags... they're dull, dull, dull,