Thursday, October 3, 2019

A Flag Dispute Among Military Blockheads

The German Federation (Deutscher Bund) - formed at the Congress of Vienna in 1815 following the Napoleon wars - did not have a navy.

It was painfully missed during the first Danish-German war of 1848 when the Danes claimed the German-speaking Schleswig in separating it from Holstein. These two territories had as Maxime, ”Op Ewig ungedeelt (Schleswig and Holstein shall remain undivided eternally).”

German Imperial Navy 1848 (©David Liuzzo/Wikipedia)
In Frankfurt, the German National Assembly of 1848 became upset when the Danes, although beaten on land, still dominated the Baltic Sea with their ships ad libitum. The deputies collected money, elected an admiral, and selected a flag for a non-existing navy. Read the full history in German here.

On this cryptic poster, the ship arriving in the New World
 flies the Imperial flag (©Facebook)
Needless to write that the projected German navy did not float.

Flag of the imperial fleet 1890 (©Der Spiegel)
This impotence at sea was possibly one of the reasons why Kaiser Wilhelm II insisted so much on building up ”his” fleet.

The imperial navy flag flew at the Steuben Parade in New York in 1909
 when the world was still in order (©Der Spiegel)
When Germany lost the Great War, little of its navy remained. Among the small heritage were the training vessel Schleswig-Holstein (sic!) and the flag. Read about the decisive role of the Schleswig-Holstein at the beginning of the 2nd World War.

Ebert's flag with the new republican eagle (©Fomax/Wikipedia)
The Weimar Republic used the colors of the 1848 Revolution black-red-gold instead of the black-white-red of the 2nd Reich. So on September 27, 1919, the President of the Reich Friedrich Ebert had a new navy flag introduced that the rudimentary German navy completely ignored*.
*Red Baron wrote about a different German flag dispute previously.

Revised navy flag of 1922 (©Der Spiegel)
Therefore, on January 1, 1922, a revised version of the flag was officially introduced. The navy order of the day contained the phrase,” Our feelings, when striking this flag, are buried deep in our hearts.”

Deutsche Kriegsmarine 1935, later official for all German military forces
(©A-41/English Wikipedia).
Thirteen years later, the Militärköpp (military blockheads) rejoiced and insisted on the official name Reichskriegsflagge (Imperial War Flag). It was the beginning of the end.

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