Last modified: 2002-11-02 by jarig bakker
Keywords: german east africa | tanga |
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In Schurdel 1995 there is a short chapter, illustrated with some flags used in the former German colonies. It is said that in the year 1914 there was a decision to grant the colonies some flags. This idea was based on the fact that the British possessions flew the blue ensign with the badge of the colonies. Germany had to show its flags also. The flags proposed —but never seen since in 1919 Germany lost all its colonies— were all black-white-red horizontally defaced with the coat-of-arms of the colony in the center. Only six coats-of-arms are known. They have all a chief (top of the shield) with the black Prussian eagle on white:
In contrast to territories which made up the British Empire, virtually all of which were granted a distinctive heraldic and vexillological identity, German colonies and protectorates did not have their own heraldic devices or flags. Following in the Portuguese and Dutch colonial practice, the Germans treated their overseas possessions an an integral part of one empire and consequently the Imperial German arms and flags were used throughout the Empire.
During a visit by the then German Secretary of State, Dr. Solf, to German possessions in Africa during 1912-1913, he noted that each of the British colonial territorities had their own distinctive colonial emblem. The fact that these 'colonial flags' all followed a single pattern made a great impression on Dr. Solf who submitted a memorandum to Kaiser Wilhelm II stressing the desirability of adopting distinctive emblems for Germany's overseas possessions. He went to far as to suggest that the matter receive urgent attention. The Kaiser agreed and suggested that Dr. Solf take the necessary steps to prepare the appropriate designs. In close co-operation with Johann Albrecht, Duke of Mecklenburg and the Herald's Office a series of designs were prepared and submitted to the Kaiser.
The flags were to be based on the German horizontal tricolour of black, white and red charged in the centre with a distinctive shield of the colony.
The outbreak of World War I in 1914 diverted attention to more pressing matters and the flags designed for Germany's colonial possessions were never taken into use.
Bruce Berry, 13 Feb 1998
The national flag with the uncrowned imperial
eagle in the center of the white stripe. Adopted 1st March 1898. Abolished
during the First World War as a result of allied conquest of the colonies.
(Illustrated in Crampton 1990 p. 42, Meyers
Konversations-Lexikon 1912 vol. 4, facing p. 799, National
Geographic 1917 p. 367, no. 1014).
This flag also flew over German Southwest Africa, Kamerun, Togoland,
and Germany's Pacific possessions. (...) It was used in German East Africa;
I do not know about the others.
Stuart Notholt, 15 February 1996
Flags of Maritime Nations 1899
shows this flag as the flag of the Governor of German East Africa and does
not mention Kiao-Chau (Tsingtao). (...) Kiao-Chau was made a German protectorate
in 1898, so maybe the information was not yet available when the 1899 book
was published. National Geographic 1917
shows it for both territories and notes that they were both conquered by
that date by the allies (Britain in Africa, Japan
Dave Martucci, 21 September 1996
The eagle on the Colonial Governors' flag shows several differences with that on the Foreign Office flag:
The escutcheon is intended to be the Prussian arms.
Norman Martin, 23 May 2000
I believe the German East African Company had a white flag with a black
cross on it. The canton was red with a constellation of five white stars
resembling the southern cross set at an angle.
Stuart Notholt, 15 February 1996
This is the flag and
shield of Tanga,
German East Africa (1914).
Jaume Ollé, 2 Jul 1997
With the outbreak of war in 1914, the British moved to occupy the territory.
Unfortunately for the tens of thousands of British, Indian, South African
and other Empire troops eventually bogged down in East Africa, the German
forces commander, Colonel Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck, was a brilliant guerrilla
leader. By the end of the European war in 1918, von Lettow and his troops
(most of whom were black, by the way) were still in the field, having led
no less a figure than the South African General Jan Christiaan Smuts a
merry dance through the bush, including excursions into Kenya and the Portuguese
territory of Mozambique (Portugal being an ally of Britain during World
Stuart Notholt, 29 Jun 1996