Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Wirmer Flag

Red Baron has blogged about German flags on several occasions. Initially, people had difficulty arranging the colors black, red, and gold in their correct order. Then I wrote about an early flag for a German navy, and I eventually reported some strange (mis)interpretations of the German colors

Today I read about a new German flag, the Wirmer flag. I learned about the flag and its creator Josef Wirmer too, from an article in the English Wikipedia.

The Wirmer flag (©Markaristos/Wikipedia)
Born in 1901, Josef Wirmer was executed in 1944 by strangulation at the infamous Plötzensee Prison in Berlin after he had been sentenced to death by the Volksgerichtshof (People's Court of Justice). His crime had been participating in the attempted assassination of Hitler on July 20, 1944. The better-known conspirators Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg and Carl Friedrich Goerdeler had planned to make Wirmer the Minister of Justice in a post-Hitler government.

Josef Wirmer at the Volksgerichtshof in August 1944.
The frame was taken from a Nazi propaganda film (©Der Spiegel)
Wirmer studied law at the universities of Freiburg and Berlin. As a student, he belonged to the left-wing of the Catholic Zentrumspartei (Center Party), dreaming of a grand coalition between the Social Democrats and the Center Party that would support the ailing Weimar Republic.

Following the Machtergreifung (the Nazi takeover) in January 1933, the Red Wirmer, as he was called, continued to fight the Nazis. As a lawyer, he, in particular, defended his Jewish colleagues who, under the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service (Gesetz zur Wiederherstellung des Berufsbeamtentums), passed in April 1933, had been dismissed as judges and prosecutors.

Wirmer's younger brother Ernst survived the Nazi terror. He explained the Wirmer flag that Josef had imagined for a free Germany: Black, red, and gold stand for Germany's first democracy, the Weimar Republic. According to brother Ernst, the cross stood for Christian values and was meant to counteract the swastika. Presently neo-Nazis groups and followers of Pegida abuse the Wirmer flag.

Commemorative Stolperstein (tripping stone) in front
of Josef Wirmer's former law office in Berlin (©OTFW/Wikipedia)

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