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State Flag, State Ensign and War Flag (Germany)

Federal Service Flag, Bundesdienstflagge

Last modified: 2017-09-30 by klaus-michael schneider
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[State Flag, State Ensign and War Flag (Germany)] 3:5 Image by M. Schmöger, 14 March 2001
Flag adopted 7 June 1950

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Description of Federal Service Flag

According to Smith 1980 this design is the state flag, and also the state ensign and war flag (although the simple tricolour could be used as the state flag, too).
Carsten Linke, 14 June 1996

Identical with the Flag of Government Authorities on Land 1921-1933. Fundamentally the state flag and ensign. Adopted 1950. Illustrated in Pedersen 1971 p. 30, Smith 1975, p. 227 and Album des Pavillons 1990, p. 17.
Norman Martin, February 1998

This is the Bundesflagge with the Bundesschild (federal shield, slightly different to the coat-of-arms). The shield is slightly shifted to the hoist, according to the legal prescription: Anordnung über die deutschen Flaggen (Instruction on the German Flags) of 13th November 1996, published in the Bundesgesetzblatt I 1996, p. 1729. However, there is no indication what exactly 'slightly shifted' means. The illustrations in several books show that the center of the shield is at about 49% of the length (48,7% / 49,3% / 49,4%). The height of the shield is also not clearly defined: it is up to 7/15 of the flag's height high. Sources: Laitenberger and Bassier 2000, Friedel 1968 and Bundesministerium des Innern 1956.
M. Schmöger, 14 March 2001

* Offset Position of the Coat-of-Arms

The coat of arms, as shown in Smith, is situated slightly shifted towards the hoist, so it looks centered when the wind makes the flag twist.
Ole Andersen, 14 January 1998

Smith has in general a very good accuracy record, and a quick check shows that the two Smith books do indeed show the arms shifted towards the hoist. But Album des Pavillons 1990, Reibert 1942 —the quasi-official German soldier's manual— and the official Informationen zur politischen Bildung all show the arms in the center, so that I feel I must conclude that Smith is probably in error on this issue.
Norman Martin, 14 January 1998

According to the law (Anordnung über die deutschen Flaggen of 7th June 1950, Bundesgesetzblatt p. 205, article 3) the coat of arms is indeed slightly shifted towards the hoist, but the shift is scarcely to detect. In the illustration of the official publication I measured from hoist to the coat of arms 2.8 cm, from the coat to the fly 2.9 cm. A small difference. (The height measures 4.6 cm, the width 7.4 cm in the same illustration.)
Dieter Linder, 14 January 1998

* Use of Official Federal Service Flag

The federal service flag is the flag for federal offices only, not for any official building. (This flag may only be used by federal government authorities.)
M. Schmöger, 25 June 2002

According to the navy regulation [Marine Dienstvorschrift] MDv 161/1 (Bundesministerium der Verteidigung 1977), the federal service flag (Bundesdienstflagge) is used by auxiliary ships of the navy, ships leased or chartered by the Bundeswehr (if ordered by the Minister of Defence), and ships not yet in service or out of service. (...) Ships using the federal service flag also use a smaller variant as a jack (Gösch). The size is also regulated in the MDv 161/1: ensigns 70 × 115 cm, 80 × 135 cm, 120 × 200 cm, 150 × 250 cm, 200 × 335 cm; the jack has either 50 × 85 cm or 70 × 115 cm.
M. Schmöger, 21 November 2001

* Other State Ensigns

In all books (e.g. Smith 1975 or Album des Pavillons 2000) the Bundesdienstflagge (federal service flag) is indicated as the only state ensign. This is not totally correct, as the federal service flag would be used only by federal state ships, e.g. the Bundesgrenzschutz as the federal police. The police boats (and other state boats and ships) of the Länder would use the federal flag (without shield) as an ensign. Usually they also have the respective state service flag as a secondary flag, e.g. as jack (as mentioned already several times when discussing the respective Länder). However, there is one exception: Lower Saxony uses the Lower Saxon state ensign as an ensign, instead of the federal flag. So we have three different flags used as German state ensigns (and another sixteen used as jacks or distinguishing flags for the Länder).
M. Schmöger, 23 November 2001

Hanging Flag

[State Flag, State Ensign and War Flag, hanging flag variant (Germany)] 5:2 Image by M. Schmöger
Flag adopted 13 November 1996

In the Anordnung über die deutschen Flaggen (Instruction on the German Flags) of 13th November 1996, published in the Bundesgesetzblatt I 1996, p. 1729, there is also for the first time legally prescribed a hanging flag (Banner) version of the Bundesdienstflagge. The image I made is in proportion 5:2, as this is the most frequently found proportion for hanging flags in Germany. Sources: Laitenberger and Bassier 2000, Friedel 1968 and Bundesministerium des Innern 1956.
M. Schmöger, 14 March 2001

Federal Shield

['Federal Shield' (Germany)] Image by M. Schmöger

The shield on the state flag has a special shape, not the same as in the coat-of-arms (even though on flags used "illegally" by sports fans the shield often totally resembles the coat-of-arms).
Dieter Linder, 12 January 1998

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