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What flag is red white and black stripes?

What flag is red white and black stripes?

The flag with red, white and black stripes is the flag of Germany. Germany’s national flag consists of three equal horizontal bands of black (top), red, and gold (bottom). The colors are said to represent unity, justice and freedom.

The origin of the black, red and gold color scheme dates back to the uniforms of the Lützow Free Corps during the German War of Liberation against Napoleon’s occupation in the early 19th century. After Germany’s unification in 1871, there was debate over what the new national flag should look like. The colors of black, white and red eventually became associated with the German Empire, while the republican movement adopted the colors of black, red and gold.

After World War I and the establishment of the Weimar Republic, Germany adopted its first official national flag using the colors black, red and gold in 1919. The black, white and red imperial tricolor was later re-adopted by the Nazi regime in 1935. After World War II, the black, red and gold flag was re-implemented as the official national flag of both West and East Germany in 1949. It remains the national flag of Germany to this day.

History of the Black, Red and Gold Flag

The color scheme of black, red and gold has a long history associated with movements for democracy and human rights within Germany. Here is an overview of the origins and symbolism of the flag:

Year Event
1813-15 The Lützow Free Corps use black, red and gold during the German Campaign against Napoleon.
1832 The Hambacher Festival adopts black, red and gold as symbolic colors.
1848-50 Black, red and gold are used during the Revolutions of 1848/49 in the German states.
1871 The German Empire adopts a black, white and red tricolor flag.
1919 The Weimar Republic adopts the first official black, red and gold flag.
1933 The Nazi regime replaces the black, red and gold flag with a black, white and red one.
1949 The black, red and gold flag is re-implemented after WWII.

As this timeline shows, the colors of black, red and gold have been associated with democratic ideals and resistance against oppression in Germany since the early 19th century. However, it took until 1919 before the flag was officially adopted.

The Lützow Free Corps

The earliest origins of the color scheme can be traced back to the uniforms worn by the Lützow Free Corps in the German War of Liberation against Napoleon’s occupation of German lands. The free corps was a volunteer force assembled by Prussian Major von Lützow in 1813. Their black uniforms with red trim and gold buttons are considered an early inspiration for the choice of black, red and gold.

The young volunteers were motivated by nationalist sentiments and the idea of liberating Germany from foreign oppression. The Lützow Free Corps helped inspire broader resistance to Napoleon in the German states. The black, red and gold colors came to symbolize this spirit of freedom and unity.

The Hambacher Festival

In May 1832, over 30,000 people attended the Hambacher Festival, a popular demonstration in favor of national unity, freedom and democracy. Attendees wore black, red and gold cockades and banners using the colors. This helped strengthen the association between the flag’s colors and the democratic, republican and nationalist movements.

The Hambacher Festival was inspired by the July Revolution in France in 1830, which saw the overthrow of the Bourbon monarchy. German reformers hoped to achieve similar democratic reforms. Though the movement was unsuccessful at the time, the black, red and gold symbolism continued to inspire subsequent generations.

Revolutions of 1848/49

The Revolutions of 1848, known as the March Revolution in the German states, led to more widespread adoption of black, red and gold flags, armbands and other symbols. Reformers sought national unity, constitutional rights, freedom of the press and representative government. Revolution broke out in numerous German principalities and city-states.

Though the 1848 Revolution was also ultimately suppressed by aristocratic forces, the black, red and gold colors became ingrained as a symbol of democratic republicanism and social reform. Revolutionaries aimed to unite Germany under a single flag, which would have been black, red and gold.

Weimar Republic Flag

After Germany’s defeat in World War I, the black, white and red imperial flag was replaced by the Weimar Republic in 1919. The new black, red and gold horizontal tricolor was chosen to represent a break with Imperial Germany and the dawn of a new democratic state.

The colors were stated to represent unity and solidarity (black), theHanseatic League and workers’ participation (red), and the golden treasure brought by immigrants (gold). For German republicans, they were symbols of a free, united Germany.

Nazi-era Flag

In 1933, black, white and red once again became Germany’s national flag after the Nazis took power. The black, red and gold flag was viewed as a symbol of the hated Weimar Republic and democracy. The new flag incorporated the old imperial colors preferred by right-wing nationalists.

In 1935, a new national flag based directly on the Nazi Party banner was adopted. This consisted of a red field with a white circle containing a black swastika. Many Germans continued to use the black, red and gold colors in protest against the Nazis until a ban in 1937.

Return of the Black, Red and Gold

After the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945, the country was divided into East and West Germany. Both states readopted versions of the black, red and gold flag in 1949, considering it a symbol of a new, democratic Germany. On October 3rd, 1990, the black, red and gold banner became the flag of reunified Germany.

Flag of West Germany

The Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) was formed in 1949. Its flag featured the black, red and gold bands in a vertical orientation rather than horizontal. This version was sometimes called the “candy stripe” flag.

The government opted for the vertical version to signal a clear break with the Nazi-era flag. The new orientation also distinguished it from the Weimar Republic’s flag while upholding its classic colors and democratic symbolism.

Flag of East Germany

The German Democratic Republic (East Germany) also adopted black, red and gold as its national colors in 1949. However, the ruling communist party preferred a slightly different horizontal tricolor design that added the socialist heraldic symbol of a hammer and compass surrounded by a ring of rye.

This East German flag used the traditional color scheme to emphasize its roots in German history and culture. But the socialist emblem rooted the colors’ meaning in communist ideology rather than liberal democracy.

Reunified Germany

With the reunification of Germany on October 3, 1990, the Federal Republic of Germany’s black, red and gold tricolor was once again adopted as the official national flag. It represents today’s democratic German nation rooted in both eastern and western traditions.

The horizontal format echoes the Weimar Republic and modern German values of unity, justice and freedom. The decision to reuse West Germany’s flag design symbolized the Federal Republic’s absorption of East Germany following reunion.

The Meaning and Symbolism of the Colors

In addition to their historical significance, the colors black, red and gold hold symbolic meaning for the German nation.


The black stripe represents unity and solidarity of the German people. It echoes the black uniforms once worn by the Lützow Free Corps volunteers who resisted Napoleon’s occupation.


The red stripe is associated with the Hanseatic League, a commercial alliance of market towns and merchant guilds that dominated trade across Northern Europe in the Middle Ages. The Hanseatic League’s color was red, so the color came to represent local self-government, trading and industry.


The gold or yellow stripe represents golden fields of grain, sunshine and the wealth brought to Germany by immigrants. It is inspired by the golden treasure hoards of the ancient Germanic peoples.

Together, the colors underline modern democratic ideals, while also honoring Germany’s medieval history and roots. They reflect freedom, unity and social justice.

Legal Status of the Flag

The black, red and gold tricolor flag is legally defined in Article 22 of the German Constitution, or Basic Law. The article states the national colors are black, red and gold and goes on to describe the proper proportions and dimensions of the flag.

Key facts about Germany’s flag:

– The flag was formally adopted in its current form in 1949.

– The horizontal black, red and gold bands must be of equal width.

– The flag ratio is 3:5, meaning the flag is 1.5 times as wide as it is tall.

– No additional symbols or coats of arms can be added to the national flag.

– Use of the German flag is protected by federal law.

The law strictly defines the standard colors, preventing variations in shade or tint. Only specific Pantone matching colors may be used when producing German flags.

Usage of the Flag

The German flag is flown at all public buildings in the country. It frequently appears at sporting events to show support for national teams. The flag is also flown on select holidays:

– National Day (October 3)
– Labor Day (May 1)
– Constitution Day (May 23)
– Reunification Day (October 3)

Most Germans view their flag with pride as a national symbol. But because of the country’s history, open displays of nationalism are taboo in mainstream society outside of sporting events. Public use of the flag faces some restrictions to prevent appropriation by extremist groups.

Individual citizens may fly the flag on their properties, vehicles or at private celebrations. But excessive public displays of the flag can be seen as provocative or aggressive nationalism. As such, everyday flag displays are more restrained than in extremely patriotic countries.

Interesting Facts

  • Some sources state the red stripe originally represented the Hanseatic League, not the uniform color of the Lützow Free Corps.
  • The gold stripe may also represent the Holy Roman Empire ruled by the German Kings from 962-1806 AD.
  • East Germany’s flag was sometimes called the “Spaghetti Flag” in the West due to its communist emblem.
  • During the 2006 World Cup, many Germans began using their national flag openly for the first time since WWII.
  • The federal government has campaigned since 2006 to encourage more everyday use of the flag by Germans.
  • Vertical black, red and gold tricolors are still used by some German mail services and firefighter units.
  • Some German navy vessels continue to fly naval ensign version of the Nordic Cross flag used until 1945.


In conclusion, the flag with black, red and gold horizontal stripes is the national flag of Germany. These colors have symbolized democratic ideals and unity in Germany since the early 19th century. After many changes back and forth, the current German flag was readopted in 1949 following World War II and has represented a democratic Germany ever since.

The black, red and gold tricolor flag reflects values such as freedom, unity and justice. It honors the nation’s long quest for representative government while looking towards a democratic future. Though use of the flag faced historical constraints, it stands as an icon of modern German identity.