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County Flags (Bavaria, Germany)


Last modified: 2003-08-09 by santiago dotor
Keywords: bavaria | bayern | county | landkreis | kreis | law |
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The approximately 120 drawings of flags of Bavarian counties are based on data gathered by Erich Dieter Linder and Falko Schmidt who got the information from the Bavarian State Archives and from enquiries to the counties. Both have written Linder and Schmidt 2000, an article about Bavarian county flags in Der Flaggenkurier no. 12, and Dieter Linder has given a presentation about them at the meeting of German vexillologists — a PowerPoint file containing his presentation is available online.

Prior to the municipal reorganisation in the early seventies, Bavaria had 143 counties and 51 independent cities. Of these counties, all but three (Illertissen, Laufen, Rothenburg) had arms, and 75 had flags. The reform reduced their number to 71 counties and 25 cities. Of the new counties, all have arms and all but one (Lindau) use flags, six of them unofficially.

The coats of arms in the flags are all taken from Ralf Hartemink's International Civic Arms website and come from Stadler 1964-1972 and Linder and Olzog 1996.

Stefan Schwoon, 9 July 2001

Flag Regulations

Bavarian flags are regulated almost as strictly as those in Baden-Württemberg. Flags may consist of two or three stripes of equal width, with or without the arms. If neighbouring counties use the same colours, the arms must be used. The only exception from the stripe rule is that banner [hanging] flags may have the arms placed in a white square on the top.

Stefan Schwoon, 9 February 2001

Counties are entitled to use flags, but they must consult the Bavarian State Archives (Bayerisches Hauptstaatsarchiv). The guidelines of the Archives are as follows:

  • In order to get a flag, a county has got to have arms (also to be designed in accordance with the Archives), and the colours of the flag have to be taken from the arms. The colours of the charges take precedence over the colours of the fields.
  • Only three types of flags are allowed: Unicoloured, with two stripes or with three stripes. The arms must be put onto the flag if it is unicoloured, if it can otherwise be mistaken for a foreign national flag, or if two neighbouring entities [counties] use the same combination of colours (for distinction).
  • Stripes must be of equal width. The combinations white-blue and black-red-yellow are reserved for the state and for the national flag, respectively, and may not be used by counties. If the flag is used in vertical form, the arms can be placed either directly on the stripes or in a white [usually square] field at the top (the banner head).
  • The flag grant specifies only the colours of the stripes. The counties are free to choose certain aspects of the design when producing the flags. These include:
    • The form: horizontal or vertical flag; most flags are of the vertical (Banner) kind, however.
    • Unless the inclusion of the arms is made mandatory by the circumstances, they can choose to use them or not. (In practice, it is likely that all counties use their arms on their flags.)
    • The exact colour shades.
    • The size of the flag, and the size and position of the arms.
Because of these choices, the flag grant is ambiguous; even more than one variant might be in use for any given county. Only in a few cases we know which variants are in use. In those cases where we know only the colours and nothing else, I drew the flags with 'default options': in banner form (5:2), with arms in the upper half of the flag, and with FOTW standard colour shades.

One can argue that this leads to flags that may not actually exist in the form in which I drew them. A survey of the actual flag specimens would make a useful addition to this work indeed. On the other hand one can argue that each flag which is in accordance with the grant is a valid flag for the county in question, and that the variants which are in use may change without notice anyway. Moreover, the 'default options' ought to be correct or nearly correct for the majority of flags.

A similar proviso applies to some counties where the grant specifies that the arms be 'in the head' of the flag. When drawing the flags, I took this to mean the 'arms-in-white-square' variant; however, this is not assured, even if I do not know why the grant should make special mention of this otherwise. Fürstenfeldbruck is an exception — here I know that the 'head variant' is used, but the grant does not say anything about it.

Stefan Schwoon, 10 July 2001

Descriptions of Other County Flags

Bavaria county flags [from Flaggenmitteilung?]:

    County or Landkreis     colours (* with coat-of-arms)    adoption date

Jaume Ollé, 24 September 1999

These are flags of Landkreise (counties). Incorrect [colours] are:

  • Eichstätt white-red-yellow;
  • Kulmbach white-black-yellow 21-2-1989;
  • Lichtenfels 15-7-1977;
  • Kelheim 31-10-1975.

Marcus Schmöger, 9 March 2001