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North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany)


Last modified: 2002-05-31 by santiago dotor
Keywords: germany | north rhine-westphalia | nordrhein-westfalen | westphalia | westfalen | coat of arms | pennant |
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[State Flag (North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany)] 3:5
by Marcus Schmöger
Flag adopted 10th March 1953, in use since 1948

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Civil Flag


[Civil Flag (North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany)] 3:5
by Marcus Schmöger
Flag adopted 10th March 1953

The Land flag is green on white on red. The state flag is the same with the arms in the middle. Proportions 3:5. (...) The flag of this new Land (green-white-red) was officialised only in 1953. Source: Veddeler 1987.

Pascal Vagnat, 19 December 1995 and 20 May 1999

The Landesflagge (civil flag) is a tricolour of green-white-red in the proportions 3:5. It was officialized in the law of 1953, however already used since 1948. It is simply the combination of the green-white colours of Rhineland and white-red of Westphalia.


  • Schurdel 1995,
  • Laitenberger and Bassier 2000,
  • Kuhn 1991, p. 90
  • Anselm Faust, 1993, Nordrhein-Westfalen: Landesgeschichte im Lexikon, Düsseldorf (Patmos-Verlag), 1993, p. 256.
  • Gesetz über die Landesfarben, das Landeswappen und die Landesflagge vom 10. März 1953. Gesetz- und Verordnungsblatt für das Land Nordrhein-Westfalen 1953, S. 140 (Law on the Colours, the Coat-of-Arms and the Flag of the Federal State of 10th March 1953. Law and Official Gazette of the Federal State North Rhine-Westphalia 1953, p. 140), and
  • Verordnung über die Führung des Landeswappens vom 16. Mai 1956. Gesetz- und Verordnungsblatt für das Land Nordrhein-Westfalen 1956, S. 163-166 (Regulation on the Use of the Federal State's Coat-of-Arms of 16th May 1956. Law and Official Gazette for the Federal State North Rhine-Westphalia 1956, pp. 163-166).

Marcus Schmöger, 18 September 2001

State Flag


[State Flag (North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany)] 3:5
by Marcus Schmöger
Flag adopted 10th March 1953, in use since 1948

A horizontal tricolor green-white-red with the arms shifted slightly left of center (the shield also is not symmetrical). Illustrated in Smith 1975 p.227.

Norman Martin, April 1998

Landesdienstflagge has the coat of arms slightly moved toward the hoist.

Mario Fabretto, 28 August 1998

The design of the coat of arms shown on the official state government website is not the official coat of arms. It is a state coat of arms for private use [termed Nordrhein-Westfalen Wappenzeichen] as the coat of arms is only for official use. The official coat of arms is the one found [on Marcus Schmöger's image above and] on the World Flag Database.

Kai A. Hamm, 23 June 2000

The Landesdienstflagge (state flag) is the civil flag with the coat-of-arms. This is somewhat shifted to the hoist. The state flag was first prescribed in the above mentioned law of 1953 [see sources under civil flag], but was already used since 1948. A photo (from 1948) in Kuhn 1991, p.90, shows (beside other flags of German Länder) a vertical variant (Banner) of the North Rhine-Westphalia state flag. The coat-of-arms had been preliminarily described in a Bekanntmachung über das Wappen des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen (Announcement on the Coat-of-Arms of the Federal State North Rhine-Westphalia, 21st January 1948) and finally prescribed in the above mentioned regulation of 1956.

Marcus Schmöger, 18 September 2001

An interesting detail from a heraldic point of view in the arms of North Rhine-Westphalia is the German practice of letting the dexter field be turned in courtoisie within the shield, something which is not always made in other countries. The arms of Rheinland is Vert a bend wavy Argent, not a bend sinister.

Elias Granqvist, 19 September 2001

Car Flags for Authorities


The Ministerpräsident [prime minister] and the president of the regional parliament use the service flag with a golden border, dimensions 30 × 30 cm. Ministers use the service flag 25 × 27 cm, secretaries of state a swallow-tailed service flag 18 × 25 cm, the president of the Regierungsbezirke the same but 15 × 25 cm. These flags are not much in use today. Source: personal and legal archives, with legislation and official documents from the German Länder, as well as the informations of Jürgen Rimann, the best German specialist for all the car flags in the world and a very reliable source.

Pascal Vagnat, 1 August 1999

Unfortunately I have no information on these car flags, neither the legal texts I have (probably I don't have all of them) nor the books mention them [see sources under civil flag].

Marcus Schmöger, 18 September 2001

Jack for State Vessels

Gösch für staatliche Wasserfahrzeuge

[Jack for State Vessels (North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany)] 3:5
by Marcus Schmöger

The state vessels (e.g. police boats) use a triangular pennant as a jack. Source: Kroker 2000.

Marcus Schmöger, 18 September 2001

Westphalia 1945-1946


[Westphalia 1945-1946 (Germany)]
by Pascal Vagnat

In 1945, after the defeat of the Nazi regime, all the Nazi and Prussian emblems, flags, coats of arms, seals were forbidden. As there weren't any legal, authorized emblems, especially at the state and regional level, the former Prussian provinces, among others, had to adopt or re-adopt emblems. That was the case of the province of Westphalia. In order to solve the problem of the absence of seals for the Westphalian communes, the Oberpräsident of Westphalia ordered in a circular of the 21st December 1945, that the seals in use in Westphalia should show the Westphalian coat of arms, that is "Gules a horse forcene Argent" with the name of the relevant authority. At the same time it was stipulated that every authority which was formerly allowed to display the Reich service flag or the former Prussian state flag, should from then on display the flag of the province of Westphalia. The buildings of the [Allied] military powers weren't concerned by this circular.

The 1945 flag of Westphalia differed from the flag of the same province adopted in 1882 and still used during the Republic of Weimar: the flag had the coat of arms of the province in the canton. This flag lasted until 1946 as the new Land North Rhine-Westphalia was created by the British military power. Source: Veddeler 1987.

There are other flags which lasted only few years after the war, but I have no information about them. We could think that the provinces of Rhineland, Hannover, Brunswick, Schaumburg-Lippe, Oldenburg, the Free State of Lippe etc. used their pre-war flags, with some light modifications, like in the case of Westphalia.

Pascal Vagnat, 20 May 1999

Note that opposed to the horse of Westphalia which is rearing (or forcene, see Pascal Vagnat's blazon; German steigend), the horse of Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen) is jumping (German springend), like the one of Brunswick (Braunschweig). They are however of the same descent, just like the horse of the English County of Kent (arms adopted 1933, also used on flag?), and the one used on the unofficial flag of Twente, a region in the east of the Dutch province of Overijssel. The latter two are leaping, and just like all the others white on a red field. Source: Het Saksische ros in de heraldiek (The Saxon Horse in Heraldry), G.W. Nanninga in Driemaandelijkse bladen voor taal en volksleven in het oosten van Nederland, 1969 no. 2 (one of the sources mentioned that might be interesting: Geirg Schnath, Das Sachsenros, Hannover, 1961).

Mark Sensen, 21 May 1999

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