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History of Soviet Flags

Last modified: 2003-03-01 by rick wyatt
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Translator's foreword

The text that will follow with this subject is a translation from K.A. Ivanov, Flagi gosudarstv mira (Flags of the states of the world), Moskva 1971, that Mark Sensen sent me in Russian. This was the origin of his excellent series of images on Soviet flags. As he said, there is an interesting text that accompanies them, and I tried to translate it as strictly as possible. You must consider that my knowledge of Russian is far from perfect (and much worse than my English), and you shouldn't expect this translation to be of the quality of professional translator.

The text is remarkable in its ideological subject, as was usual in the time, and I haven't tried to make any 'improvements' on the expressions and formulations. If you are not used to this kind of text you may find it offensive in places, but I am not to blame for that. Apart from much information on flags, there is a lot of historical background, written in the Marxist style, but the information given there is, IMHO, worthy of reading and thought.

The illustrations of flags are on separate pages, and in the text are links to them.

In spelling Russian names, I haven't followed any system (there are several of them) of transliteration. I followed my feeling for what might be best, and I have surely made some errors according to some of the systems.

Finally, I would like to thank to Mark for giving me the original text in Russian, and to Giuseppe that made this list available for us. I would also like to thank all of you, members of the list, that stoutly have withstood all my postings now, and hope that you do the same with this one.
zeljko heimer Jun-1996

The Flags of the Revolution and the Contrarevolution

In the February 1917 in Russia the Bourgeois-democratic revolution won. Democratic forces of the land - workers, peasants, petty bourgeois, avant-garde intelligentsia - marched under the red revolutionary flags. The winning wave of the revolution destroyed the monarchy in Russia. Even in the first days of February Lenin's party of the proletariat - the Russian social-democratic workers party, declared to the people in a manifesto: 'Citizens! the base of Russian czarism has fallen ... The red symbols of uprising can be seen in the whole of Russia! Forward! Don't stop! Mercilessly fight! Under the Red symbols of Revolution!'

The government was taken over by the Temporary Board and Soviets of workers' and soldiers' deputies. The Temporary Board was afraid of revolutionary changes and restricted itself to half-measures. That was also the situation with the state's flag and arms. The old white-blue-red flag was not changed, but the imperial arms and the crown were removed from it.

In the whole state the Soviets were evolving. Similarly the people of Ukraine organized in March-April in Kiev. The Central Committee and decided 'to adopt the yellow-blue flag of Independent Ukraine'. The upper yellow half symbolized wheat, and lower dove-blue the sky. In Minsk the Byelorussian Bourgeois-national Committee was declared. It used a flag with horizontal stripes: white-red-white. In March the German army took over the whole Pre-Baltic, and afterwards the bourgeois Republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were proclaimed there. All three of them used horizontal tricolors: blue-black-white in Estonia, red-white-red in Latvia and yellow-green-red in Lithuania.

Estonia: State flag, Naval flag,
Latvia: State flag, Naval flag,
Lithuania: State flag, Naval flag]

The Temporary Board continued the anti-peoples imperialistic politics: the war continued and democratic changes were withheld. A revolutionary crisis started in the land. The Board, trying to stay in government, proclaimed the Russian Republic on 1 September 1917, but it was already too late to stop the revolution. On 25 October (7 November, according to the new calendar) in 10:45 in the evening in Smolno the First All-Russian Congress of Soviets began. In the name of the working people the Congress proclaimed a transfer of the whole government to the Soviets. At 2 a.m. the Winter Castle was taken and the Temporary Board arrested. The head of the Board, Kerensky ran away clothed in a nun's outfit.

The Congress formed the new Soviet board - Soviet of Peoples' Commissars (Sovet Narodnih Komisarov - SNK) with V.I. Lenin as the head, and elected an All-Russian Central Acting Committee of Soviets (Vserossiyski Ispolnitelyny Komitet Sovietov - VCIK).

The Revolution, that started in St. Petersburg and Moscow, spread to all parts of the land. In October-November, the Soviet government was established in all the important centers and on the main frontlines.

In St. Petersburg, the Third All-Russian Congress of Soviets drew up a constitution for the Russian Socialist Federal Soviet Republic (RSFSR) on 10-18 January 1918.

The young Republic lived under the Red banner, but it was not yet legally defined. The first law on the determination of the State flag was considered on 8 April 1918, in the session of the All-Russian Central Acting Committee. The chair of theVCIK, Ya.M. Sverdlov said: 'The unique flag of the Russian Soviet Republic - is that unique flag with which we went into the fight against self-styled and bourgeois... and no revolutionary would be against having the red flag remain the national flag.'

The decree of the VCIK of 13 April 1918 declared: 'The flag of the Russian Republic is to be a red banner with the inscription Russian Socialist Federal Soviet Republic'. This was the first official declaration of the Red flag as the state flag.

In Trans-Caucasia the government was taken by rightists and menshevists, and they declared 'Independent Democratic Republics' of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. Their flags were horizontal tricolors: yellow-black-red in Georgia, blue-red-yellow in Armenia, and blue-red-green with a white crescent and star in Azerbaijan.

In Central Asia the October Revolution was only weakly supported. Armed not without help of English agents, the bands of fiefs were strongly opposed to the governments of peoples' Soviets.

The strongest opposition to Soviet government was not in Central Asia. Hordes of contra-revolutionaries united the under the old administration bourgeois, kulaks, and reactionary military officers in the White Guard. The armed proletariat began to liberate the land from contra-revolutionary elements, supporters and provocateurs.

Capitalists of Great Britain, France and US immediately united their forces to strangle the young Republic of Soviets. In early spring of 1918 the Entente military alliance was established - foreign military intervention. In three bloody offensives of Entente forces of foreign countries under different flags took part: English, American, French, German, Italian, Turkish, Greek, Romanian and others. In the regions under intervention and contra-revolutionary forces the institutions of Soviets were outlawed, and 'Boards' were introduced. Here and there new 'state' flags emerged, but they disappeared as fast as they emerged.

The position of the main Soviet state was critical. After the call by V.I. Lenin, workers began to struggle against the contra-revolution and intervention. The Red Army was formed in a short time. Occupiers were forced out of Russia, Ukraine and Belorus under its attack. In the autumn of 1918, after a big struggle, the Red Army reached the Pre-Baltics. In Narve, on 29 November 1918, the Estonian Workers Commune was declared. On its red flag, bordered with yellow fringes, in a yellow canton were inscribed in red letters 'Estonian Workers Commune' in Estonian and Russian, and in white letters the call: 'On barricades, Estonian proletariat, for Soviet Estonia, Big Volga, Ural, Siberia, in the name of III Communist International!' The red flags had returned to the Pre-Baltics. In the autumn of 1919 in a counter-attack Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia were occupied under Finnish, Swedish, Danish and English flags. Soviets were abolished, and towns and villages bathed with blood. The anti-peoples, reactionary regimes were formed in the Pre-Baltics.

[Image: Estonian Workers Commune]

In Trans-Caucasia as a result of an armed uprising in April 1920, the Muslim government of Azerbaijan fell. In November 1920 the same happened in Armenia, and in February 1921 the menyshevik government of Georgia was overthrown. At last Soviet governments were established in Trans-Caucasia. The flags of the Trans-Caucasian republics were red with abbreviations of their names: ASSR, SSRA and SSRG.

In Central Asia, similarly, the success of the contra-revolution was broken. Gangs fighting under 'holy banners of sheriat' were defeated on 30 April 1918. An All-Turkestanian Congress of Soviets declared the establishment of the Turkestanian republic. The result of the Turkestani revolution heavily influenced neighboring nations. In February 1920 the government of the Hivin Khan was overthrown, and in April of the same year 1st Horezmian Peoples Kurutay (congress) proclaimed the Horezmian Peoples Soviet Republic. The state flag was red with the state's sign on it. This sign contained a star and crescent, and also a cotton plant, a spade and a sickle in a green canton.

[Image: Horezmian PSR]

In the year 1920, there was a people's uprising in the Buharian Emirate. People asked help from the fraternal Red Army. The army of the khan was destroyed. On 2 September 1920, the commander of the Turkestanian front M.V. Frunze wrote in a telegram to V.I. Lenin: '[...] The last stand of the Buharian dark forces has fallen. Over Registan victoriously flies the Red flag of world revolution.' On 14 September 1920 the 1st Buharian Peoples Kurutay decided to deport the Emir, and declared the Buharian Peoples Soviet Republic. The state's flag had a green top half and red lower half. In the middle were sewn in a gold crescent and five-pointed star and in the upper hoist end, in gold letters, BNSR.

[Image: Buharian PSR]

In Siberia and the Far East, the white army was defeated. The army used a white-green flag. The Red Army and partisans stopped the evacuation of the Entente army, and Japanese units were driven to the coastlands. On 6 April 1920, the Inaugurating Congress of Workers and Partisans of Prebaikal declared a Fareastern republic. Their flag was declared red with a blue canton and red letters DVR in it. V.I. Lenin wrote: 'The situation forced us to make a buffer state - the Fareastern Republic ... the war with Japan we can bear, and we have to do anything against it. [.....]'. The Fareastern republic was formed by necessity of time, and was not based on national principles like all other soviet republics. The Japanese had to start negotiations with the Fareastern Republic, by which, at the end of May 1920, they were forced to redraw their troops from the coastline. The units of the Red Army entered Vladivostok on 25 October 1922, 'and finished the fight on the Pacific'.

[Image: Fareastern Republic]

On 14 November 1922, the National Assembly of the Fareastern Republic came with a request to join the Russian Federation. The next day this request was granted.

All the country, from one sea to the other became a free soviet state. On one sixth of the world map, the Red flag of the State of Soviets was established.

Flags of Soviet Republics

The first Constitution of the state was declared on 10 January 1918. In the Fifth session of the All-Russian Congress of Soviets the Red flag was legally determined as the state flag: 'Article 90. Merchant, naval and military flag of RSFSR is a red rectangle, in the upper left corner in a canton are placed the gold letters RSFSR or the text Rossiyskaya Socialisticheskaya Federativnaya Sovetskaya Respublika.'

In the first edition of the Constitution of RSFSR, issued by VCIK in 1918, there was an image of the state flag. In a red rectangle there were gold letters in the canton in the following pattern: in center - 'F', left and right of it - 'S', and above and below - 'R'. However, this flag was not used for long, since this design was not officially recognized.

In a note from the foreign-affairs board of the Peoples Commissariat of 1918, the pattern was established in detail, and the state flag was described. The document was sent to the institutions of the Republic and to foreign countries:

'The flag of Russian republic is red. In the canton there should be sewn in or appliqued coloured letters 'RSFSR' according to the picture. The letters are gold, but in usual use (decorating homes and facades) yellow can be used, if gold if difficult to find. The length is double the width of the flag, the length of the rectangle with letters is one and a half of the half-flag width, and the width of the rectangle is half of the flag width.'

In an archive of the Museum of the Revolution, a flag as described is guarded as a relic. It was ordered in Copenhagen, and sent by Danish communist Valter Stelsit.

In March 1918 the Soviet government moved to Moscow. For their location they choose the Kremlin, and on 4 October the decision was made to erect on the dome of the government building the red state flag measuring 3 x 6 arshins2).

The commander of the Kremlin in those years was P.D. Malkov, who in his memoirs wrote:

'... Vladimir Ilyich [Lenin] said to me: - Comrade Malkov, there should be on the building ... a hoisted red flag ... - I understand - I said - Vladimir Ilyich, I'll do it at once. I left Ilyich and was thinking: I promised to do it, but how will I do it, I wonder?... Luckily for me, for a long time there worked in the Kremlin a smith, Berens ... He was a plumber, and was able to do many things. A real Russian worker ... I went to this Berens and asked - Vladimir Ilyich ordered - I said - that there should be red flag over the building. A flagpole should be placed on the dome. Would you do it? - Why not? - answered Berens - Simple as beans. He took tools and went to dome. He was up there for a few days sweating. And he put up there a flag pole and watch-house. We hoisted on the Kremlin, the building of the Soviet government, the red flag. Forever!'

On the decision of VCIK of 29 September 1920, the military, merchant and naval flags of the RSFSR were established. The official text was: 'To the amendments of Article 90 of the Constitution of the RSFSR, on establishing a unique merchant, naval and military flag, the All-Russian Central Acting Committee declares: 1. The military flag will remain the same as now (red flag with golden letters 'RSFSR' in canton). 2. For the merchant fleet, hereby is established a red flag with capital letters 'RSFSR' of large proportions in the middle of the flag. 3. For the naval fleet, hereby is established a red flag with an anchor, a red star on the centre of it [with sickle and hammer in gold, ZH], and capital letters 'RSFSR' on the bar at the top of it.'

These flags were designed by artists S.V. Chehohnin, N.P. Kolchanovski and V.N. Serebryan. On the red military (state) flag the golden letters RSFSR were mirroring Slovene ornaments. On the field of the naval flag there was the first appearance of the red star, as also the sickle and hammer.

The star is a long established symbol of the coming of happier times. It was not by chance that A.S. Pushkin, talking to dekabrists [rebels in uprising in December 1825, ZH], wrote these eternal lines:

Comrades, believe: it will come
The star of capturing happiness,
Russia will find that dream ...

The prophecy became fact. The red flag with the star, sickle and hammer was established on the ruins of self-styled sovereignty. The history of Revolution took up this emblem immediately.

[Images: State flags of the first republics of USSR
Russian SFSR (same as 1918 flag)
Ukrainian SSR
Byelorussian SSR
Transcaucasian SSR
Uzbekian SSR
Turkmenian SSR (same as Soviet flag)]

The young Soviet Republic prepared to celebrate appropriately on 1 May 1918. It was necessary to decorate Moscow for the holiday. In a decree from the SNK on 12 April 1918, entitled 'On Republic holidays', V.I. Lenin ordered 'the express preparation of the city for 1 May and the replacement of inscriptions, emblems, street names, coats of arms, etc., with new names that express the ideas and the spirit of revolutionary work of Russia'.

One of the first things was the establishment of the five-pointed red star as the emblem of the Red Army.

In the Central Museum of the Soviet Army is guarded a page, yellowed by time, that explains the symbolism of the first emblem of the Red Army:

' The Red Star - the emblem of the Red Army ... - the star of justice ... On the Red Army star there is a sickle and hammer. The sickle is for the reaper, the peasant, and the hammer for the smith - the worker. It means that the Red Army fights so that the star of justice should shine for the reaper-peasant and smith-worker. ' The five points of the star represent the five fingers of a working hand. The five-pointed star is the emblem of unity of the proletariat of the five continents of the Earth.

The second most important emblem of the state of workers and peasants - the sickle and hammer - also emerged in the revolutionary months of 1917-1918. It is hard to say where this emblem was born, and it is hard to name the author.

The first emergence of the sickle and hammer is possibly from replacement of the plough and hammer in the flags of the Armenian revolutionary units.

In early autumn 1918 a competition was opened for the best project of flag, coat of arms, seal and money design. In the requirements for the competition it is written that 'in the composition there must be elements symbolizing the workers' and peasants' republic - the tools of their work (e.g., sickle and hammer)'.

In March the jury of the SNK considered designs for the state seal and coat of arms: on a red background shone the light of a rising sun, surrounded by sheaves of wheat, on a scarlet ribbon are the five letters 'RSFSR', in the centre is a sickle and hammer, and on from the crossed sheaves emerges an upward pointing sword. Lenin liked this design, but he commented that 'a sword is not our emblem', and suggested it be removed it from the arms.

The definition of the coat of arms was made by sculptor N.A. Andreev. Before the end of preparations for the 1 May celebration, the 'new project of the seal (sickle and hammer)' was used 'as a pattern for the decoration of the House of the Soviets'. The emblem of the crossed sickle and hammer was widely presented in celebratory decorations in the squares and streets of Moscow. Their authors were, independently, different artists, among others S.V. Chehonin and E.I. Kamzolkin.

The national artist of the USSR, Sergei Vasilyevich Gerasimov, remembers those days:

'--- It was necessary to make details of decorations - emblems, ornaments, inscriptions. There were no patterns from before. We were standing around the drawing board, and began drafting with coal. Stroyashiy was working with me. E. Kamzolkin was thinking and said: 'What if we try this emblem? Maybe it will be the Soviet emblem'. Saying this he started drawing with coal on wood: 'This is how you make a sickle - to represent peasants, and in it a hammer - for workers. That is, maybe, passable.'

And on the flags and banners in Zamoskoretskog rayon [?, maybe a part of Moscow], the emblem of the 'sickle and hammer' emerged.

In his diary Kamzolkin wrote:

'It was like this. When I made a drawing for the decorations in Serpuhovski Square, I put some flags. But on the flags, according to my project, there should be an emblem. I sent a message to Oleynikov to ask in the Moscow Soviet if they would suggest an emblem for the Soviet. It was discovered that there still was no emblem, but it was required, if possible, to display unity of workers and peasants. But how? - that was a question no one could answer at the time. Several comrades from Mossovet [Moscow Soviet] deemed that a plough and hammer and anvil should be displayed. It was a one-sided discussion. But, I got over my fears, and decided to symbolize the work of the peasants with a sickle, because a plough, I thought, was not suitable for an emblem, and the work of workers with one hammer without the anvil ... I made several drafts, and the best of them, (crossed) sickle and hammer I put on the design of flags that were supposed to be hoisted on Serpuhovski Square. Finally I drew the design of the sickle and hammer. It was far from thoughts that my emblem would be so widespread at the end'.

These new symbols weren't made by chance. Their emergence was predicted in life ... The winning of the revolution was begun and led by workers from cities and villages. New songs celebrated work, and the making of a happy future. A hero of the revolutionary songs was a smith, who broke the chains of capitalism with his hammer and hammered them 'into the happier lands'. The figure of a smith with a hammer was seen on many posters of the time. The peasant's sickle was often seen as a parallel to the work with a hammer. Unification of these two symbols was quite natural; they best represented in a simple but deep way the revolutionary ideas and feelings of the working masses.

In a short time the sickle and hammer became the main elements of the Soviet coat of arms, established by V.I. Lenin.

Not all the flags of the early Soviet republics had the symbols of the sickle and hammer. In some the area of the flag was red, and in the canton were sewn in gold letters the abbreviations or full names of the republics. This was so on the flags of 1918-1922 of the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia.

First Soviet flags of Russian Federation: State flag (1918), State flag (1918) - military flag (1920), Merchant flag (1920), Naval flag (1929),
Ukrainian SSR 1919,
Byelorussian SSR 1919,
Georgian SSR 1922,
Armenian SSR 1922,
Azerbaijanian SSR 1921]

One of the most important historical events was the formation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, under the leadership of V.I. Lenin. There were both external and internal reasons for this union of sovereign republics. These were dictated by the general evolution of the economic, political and cultural development, that the nature of Soviet government demanded. However, the USSR was not made all at once.

The initiative came from the republics of Trans-Caucasia. On 12 March 1922 in a conference on the unification of the CVIK of Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia there was formed the Federal Union of Socialist Soviet Republics of Trans-Caucasia (Federativnyy Soyuz Sotsialisticheskih Sovetskih Respublik Zakavkazya). On 13 December 1922 this Union was transformed to the Trans-Caucasian Socialist Federal Soviet Republic (ZSFSR). Its flag also had a red field with a star and the inscription 'ZSFSR'. At the end of the month the soviet republics of Trans-Caucasia, Ukraine and Belarus proposed to join the Russian Federation. The 10th All-Russian Congress of Soviets made a resolution: 1. We recognize unification of Russian Socialist Federal Soviet Republic, Ukrainian Socialist Soviet Republic, Trans-Caucasian Socialist Federal Soviet Republic and Byelorussian Socialist Soviet Republic as the in Union of Socialist Soviet Republics1).

Everyone accepted with delight the announcement of this major victory of the proletariat. At the First Congress of Soviets of the USSR it was said that 'the red banner was transformed from the symbol of the Party to the symbol of a state, and around that flag gathered the peoples of the soviet republics to unite into one state - the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics'. On 30 December 1922 the Congress adopted a Declaration and Agreement on the establishment of the USSR. Article 22 of the Agreement states: 'the USSR has a flag, coat of arms and a state seal.'

The description of the first flag of USSR was given in the Constitution, accepted in the second session of the CIK of the USSR on 6 July 1923. The text of article 71 states: 'The state flag of the Union of SSR consists of a red or scarlet field with states coat of arms'. It was ordered from a prestigious factory. It had unusual proportions: the ratio of width to length was 1:4. However, such a flag was never made.

In the third session of the CIK of the USSR on 12 November 1923, the description of Soviet flag in the Constitution was changed, and article 71 was edited to be: 'The state flag of the Union of SSR consists of a red or scarlet field, and in the canton a golden sickle and hammer, and a red five-pointed star bordered in gold above them. The ratio of width to length is 1:2.'

In January 1924 the first Constitution of the USSR was defined. In it the Soviet flag is described with a crossed sickle and hammer and a five-pointed star- symbols of the indestructible union of workers and peasants in the struggle for the establishment of a communist society. The Soviet government supported peaceful politics, and sought foreign relations for a peaceful way of life. The red flag of USSR entered the international arena.

Diplomatic and merchant representatives of the Soviet state went abroad. The newspaper 'Pravda' printed with pride, for example, on 29 October 1922 in article entitled 'the Soviet flag in the Mediterranean': 'In a telegram addressed to Lenin from comrade Gornogo, the Russian consul in Mersina (Turkey) there is a report on flying the first flag of the RSFSR on the waves of the Mediterranean Sea...'.

In autumn 1933 the United States of America established a diplomatic relationship with the Soviet Union, and on 20 November 1933 in 'Pravda' a photo was published with this caption: 'In honor of comrade Litvinov, the Soviet flag waas raised over the hotel Saint Moritz in New York. This is one of the first Soviet flags hoisted over an American public building.'

In 1924, the number of Soviet republics rose to six - USSR was joined by Turkmenia and Uzbekistan, and in 1929, the Tadjik republic was established.

According to the Constitution of the USSR, the federal republics declared their own constitutions. The state flags of federal republics were slightly different - they all had the red field with abbreviated or full names of republics. The inscriptions were in the national languages, or in Russian, or both.

Under the red flag the country successfully defined socialism. The first five-year plan was adopted and fulfilled, developing the people's economy. In a relatively short period the Soviet Union was transformed from an agricultural state to a strong industrial state. The victory of socialism was crowned with the new Constitution of the USSR of 5 December 1936. On the red state flag remained the sickle and hammer with the red star. In the multinational Soviet state were incorporated 11 republics: at that time ZSFSR was split into Georgian SSR, Armenian SSR and Azerbaijanian SSR; and Kyrgyzian SSR and Kazakhian SSR were formed, also. The constitutions of all the federal republics were modeled on the new constitution of the USSR. On the new flags of the federal republics were crossed sickle and hammer beside the full or abbreviated names of the republics. On the flags of Georgia and Armenia, the names were inscribed in letters of national alphabet. On flags of Azerbaijan and the Central Asian republics the Latin alphabet was used; on the flags of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tadjikistan and Kyrgyzia the names were also written in Russian. On the flag of the RSFSR, ornamental Slavic letters were replaced with a modern simple type.

[Images: The state flags of Soviet Socialist Republics (1937)
Russian SFSR
Ukrainian SSR
Byelorussian SSR
Azerbaijanian SSR
Gruzian SSR [Georgian SSR]
Armenian SSR
Turkmenian SSR
Uzbekian SSR
Tadjikian SSR
Kazakhian SSR
Kyrgyzian SSR]

In years 1938-1940, on demand of workers in some of the federal republics, words in the Latin alphabet were replaced by letters based on the Russian alphabet. On the flags of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tadjikistan, Turkmenia, Kyrgyzia and Azerbaijan, Latin letters were replaced with Russian.

In the autumn of 1939 the survival of Europe was doomed. Fascism began with the politics of aggression. Soviet Union prepared its armed forces, as a measure of state security. Soviet Army was attacked by capitalist Finnish Army, that provoked the war in USSR. Soviet Union took back Besarabia, that was occupied by Romania in 1918. In March 1940 Karelian ASSR was transformed into Karelo-Finnish SSR, and in August 1940 Moldavian ASR also became federal republic. In July 1940 people of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia downthrowed the bourgeois fascist governments, and made general democratic changes in the highest states' institutions. The new soviet socialists republics joined of free will to USSR in August 1940.

The state flags of the five new federal repubilcs were red fields with abbreviations of the names of republics, with images of the sickle and hammer and the five pointed star.

The sixteen state flags of soviet republics symbolized the peaceful efforts of the nations of the state. However, in early morning of 22 June 1941, the fascist hordes stepped into the territory of USSR.

During the Big Patriot War of 1941-45 Soviet Union destroyed fascist Germany and imperalist Japan. The Soviet Army cleared the land from occupiers, and upraised the banners of Victory over Berlin, and liberated the nations of many states of Europe and Asia from fascist slavery.

[Image su-vctry.gif]

Winning the War victoriously, Soviet Union returned to the peaceful upbuilding work. The red flags flew again in the right hands of the upbuilders and on the fields of the land.

{Images - The state flags of Soviet Socialist Republics (in 1940's)

Russian SFSR
Ukranian SSR
Byelorussian SSR
Uzbekian SSR
Kazakhian SSR
Gruzian SSR (Georgian SSR)
Azerbaijanian SSR
Lithuanian SSR
Moldovian SSR
Latvian SSR
Kyrgyzian SSR
Tadjikian SSR
Armenian SSR
Turkmenian SSR
Estonian SSR
Karelo-Finnish SSR

After the victorious end of the Big Patriot War the new designs of the state flags of soviet socialist republics were made. Only remained the emblem of the federation - crossed sickle and hammer and the five-pointed star; the biggest area of the field remained red colorized, but was added with colors to represent national characteristics of republics: azure, dove-blue, white and ornaments.

The new flags were determined with the Dictates of Presidium of Supreme Supreme Soviets of federal republics:

[Images: ]

Russian SFSR - 9 April 1954
Ukranian SSR - 21 November 1949
Byelorussian SSR - 25 December 1951
Uzbekian SSR - 29 August 1952
Kazakhian SSR - 24 January 1953
Gruzian SSR - 11 April 1951
Azarbaijanian SSR - 7 October 1952
Lithuanian SSR - 15 July 1953
Moldovian SSR - 31 January 1952
Latvian SSR - 17 January 1953
Kyrgyzian SSR - 22 December 1952
Tadjikian SSR - 20 March 1953
Armenian SSR - 17 December 1952
Turkmenian SSR - 1 August 1953
Estonian SSR - 6 February 1953

The official documents do not give any explanation of the symbolic of the colours of the new flags. However, the history of the republics, their geographical position and images of coats of arms allows to explain with sufficient authority the symbolic of the colours of state flags of federal republics.

On the flag of Russian Federation there is a vertical stripe on hoist coloured blue, that together with red stands for the national colours of the Russian people.

On the flag of Ukranian SSR there is azure stripe symbolizing the greatness and beauty of people; under the azure colors Ukranians fought for national liberation led by Bogdan Khmelynicki.

On the flag of Byelorussian SSR green stripe symbolizes woods and other growing wealth of the Republic, the white-red ornament in vertical stripe on hoist emphasizes the national character of the flag.

On the flag of Uzbekian SSR dove-blue stripe stands for water, substantial for life, and the white borders - "white gold", i.e. cotton.

On the flag of Kazakhian SSR azure stripe symbolizes the clear sunny sky.

On the flag of Gruzian SSR dove-blue horizontal stripe represents the Black Sea adn the dove-blue sun in square canton - unclouded sky of sunny Georgia.

On the flag of Azerbajanian SSR blue stripe symbolizes the plentiful Caspian sea.

On the flag of Lithuanian SSR green stripe symbolizes green woods of the Republic, and white - peace.

On the flag of Moldanian SSR green stripe stands for vineyards and woods, the growing wealth of the Republic.

On the flag of Latvian SSR two white and two blue wavy stripes symbolize, obviously, the Baltic sea.

On the flag of Kyrgizian SSR blue stripes symbolize water of lakes, and white stripe - cotton and snow from the mountain tops.

On the flag of Tadjikian SSR white wide stripe - cotton, green - fruit, vineyards and the wealth of growing things.

On the flag of Armenian SSR blue stripe represents mountain lake Sevan, lakes and rivers of the state.

On the flag of Turkmenian SSR dove-blue stripes represent water canals, substantial resource in deserts.

On the flag of Estonian SSR blue and wavy lines symboolize the Baltic sea.

On the flag of Karelo-Finnish SSR* green stripe represent wood resources of the land, and dove-blue - uncountable lakes.

There are twenty autonomous republics in federal republics of USSR:

Bashkirian ASSR
Burytian ASSR
Dagestanian ASSR
Kabardino-Balkarian ASSR
Kalmylkian ASSR
Mariyian ASSR
Mordovian ASSR
North-Ossetian ASSR
Tatarian ASSR
Tuvinian ASSR
Udmurtian ASSR
Checheno-Ingushian ASSR
Chuvashian ASSR
Yakutian ASSR
Abkhazian ASSR
Ajarian ASSR
Nakhichevanian ASSR
Karakalpakian ASSR

All autonomous soviet socialist republics have their state flags. Their description is determined in the constitutions of the autonomous republics. The designs and proportions of the flags of autonomous republics correspond to teh flags of federal republics. Furthermore, on the flags of all republics, under the sickle and hammer there is an incription in gold letters - full or abbreviated name of the republic; on some flags the inscription is in one or two national language and in Russian. Many of soviet socialist republics are awarded orders. Their flags are decorated with the sashes of the orders.

* On 16 July 1956 transformed to Karelian ASSR [author's note].


Source text shows coats of arms of the republics with appropriate header, first USSR then republics in alphabetical order]


Source text shows current flags of former soviet nations ??hyperlink instead??]