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Former Colonies and other Overseas Territories (Germany)

Frühere deutsche Schutzgebiete

Last modified: 2003-08-09 by santiago dotor
Keywords: german empire | colonial | eagle (black) | ralik islands | german east african company | deutsch-ostafrikanische gesellschaft | doag | cross (black) | canton (red) | stars: 5 (white) | southern cross | neuschwabenland | new |
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Former Protectorates and other Overseas Territories

Dates when the territories were lost are shown in square brackets:



  • Kiaochao / Tsingtao (Pachtgebiet Kiautschou / Tsingtau), nowadays Qingdao, part of China [1914]


Flags used in the German Colonies

In Schurdel 1995 there is a short chapter, illustrated with some flags used in the former German colonies. When the German colonies were not represented heraldically [i.e. with a particular coat-of-arms to display on the national flag], there were special flags flying:

  • The flag of the authorities of the Reich (Reichsdienstflagge im Bereiche des Auswärtigen Amtes, einschl. der Kaiserl. Behörden und Fahrzeuge in den deutschen Schutzgebieten), with the exception of Kiautschou.
  • The flag of the governors of Kiautschou and East Africa: black over white over red with the Reich eagle on the white stripe without crown.
  • The flags of several Merchant companies operating there. The model of the flag should contain the colours black, white, red. Here are some of them:
    • Ostafrikanische Gesellschaft: white with a black cross and a red canton containing five white stars 2:1:2.
    • Westafrikanische Gesellschaft: white with a red cross fimbriated white and black. In the centre appears a black eagle on a white disc. In each canton there is a letter: D, W, A, G in black.
    • Neu-Guinea-Compagnie: white with a black-white-red flag in the canton and a black lion with a fleur de lys in red in its right hand in the fly.
    • Jaluit Gesellschaft: white with a black-white-red stripped disc in the middle [image in the Marshall Islands page].
  • The flag of the Ralik Islands.
Schurdel 1995 also gives a little bibliography on the flags of the former German colonies:
  • Afrika-Nachrichten 1933;
  • Die Kolonialreiche seit dem 18. Jahrhundert, David K. Fieldhouse, Fischer Weltgeschichte, Bd 29, 13. Edition, Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, 1993; and
  • Geschichte der deutschen Kolonien, Wilfried Westphal, C. Bertelsmann Verlag, München, 1984.

Pascal Vagnat, 21 February 1996

Ralik Islands Flag 1878-1885


[Ralik Islands 1878-1885 (Germany)] 2:3
by Jaume Ollé
Flag adopted 19th November 1878, abolished 15th October 1885

Schurdel 1995 also mentions the flag of the Ralik Islands [nowadays part of the Marshall Islands] which had five stripes of black-white-red-white-black. The flag was used from 19 November 1878 to 15 October 1885.

Pascal Vagnat, 21 February 1996

New Swabia 1937-1945


In Boudewijn Büch's Eenzaam (Lonely), a book about islands and [other] geographical oddities, I read that the Nazi government claimed in 1939 a piece of Antarctica which was annexed by an expedition, led by Alfred Ritscher, as Deutsch Neuschwabenland [German New Swabia]. This was never recognized by other countries, and especially not by Norway because it was already claimed by them as Dronning Maud Land.

Mark Sensen, 5 February 1997

I understand that there was a proposed German flag for the territorial claim on Antarctica (Neuschwabenland) after the 1937-38 German expedition. I have been unable to find the flag, I have it on very good authority that one existed.

Phillip Armijo, 12 December 1999

The question was raised about the proposed boundaries for the 1939 German claim of Neuschwabenland. A lot of German technical stuff on that can be found for instance in this website, for example the this zipfile with several maps and pictures. [This small image and this large map give an idea of the extent.] According to Westermann Lexikon der Geographie, Braunschweig, 1970:

Neuschwabenland is a fringe-area of the Queen-Maud-land, c. between 10 degrees West and 20 degrees East and at 75 degrees South; discovered by the German Antarctic Expedition 1938/39. Area c. 600.000 sq. km2. In how far this claim is real at present is quite doubtful, although on Antarctic maps (in the National Geographic, Hammond's World Atlas e.a. this area is still named 'New Schwabenland'.
The amazing thing is that this discovery was preceded by a huge operation involving a shuttle ship between Hamburg and the Antarctica, hydroplanes being catapulted into the air from that ship — and all for a dreadful desert.

Jarig Bakker, 25 February 2000

According to the website mentioned by Jarig Bakker:

The Neuschwabenland [expedition ship] left the port of Hamburg on December 17th 1938 (...) and reached the ice on January 19th 1939 at 4 15' W and 69 10' S. The following weeks on 15 flights the [hydroplanes] flew accross some 600,000 square kilometers and made more than 11,000 pictures of the area. Nearly one fifth of the w[h]ole antarctic area was scanned this way, thus documented for the first time and simultaneous claimed to be German territory. To stress this claim on the outside too, the two planes [disseminated] several thousands of drop-flags, special metal poles with the expedition's insignia on them, the swastika.
So it seems that if there was ever a Neuschwabenland flag, that was the swastika flag.

Santiago Dotor, 28 March 2001