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Former Yugoslavia (1945-1991)

Last modified: 2003-01-18 by ivan sache
Keywords: yugoslavia | coat of arms | star (red) | torch | flame | president | civil ensign |
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[Federal Peoples' Republic of Yugoslavia]by Zeljko Heimer

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Origin of the flag

Successive names of the so-called "Former Yugoslavia" were:

  • Democratic Federative Yugoslavia, until 1946
  • Federative People's Republic of Yugoslavia, until 1963
  • Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia until 1991.

Flags to be used on land all had 1:2 proportion, whereas those for use at sea were 2:3. Most of them were based on former national flags, removing the national emblem in the middle and putting the star insted of it.

The blue over white over red flag was invented after the First World War, as the only heraldically proper combination of these colours, not already used. Red-white-blue was the other acceptable combination, but then already long established as the Croatian flag.
Before Second World War, the State flag had the state's coat of arms in the middle, and civilians used a simple version.
Smith claims that the flag with the red star has been used since September 1941. I believe it has been used since July when the uprising started. However, until 1946, the star was (usually) just in the white field, in the "inner diameter equals outer radius" version, and without the yellow fimbriation (e.g see Croatian Anti-fascist Movement). The version with the yellow outlined red star was officially adopted on 31 January 1946 and abandoned sometime in the spring of 1991. The flags of the Federal Republics with stars, were made a year later (1947).

Officially, this flag was for use by government and army on land, but practically it was also used by civilians as national flag.

Zeljko Heimer, 1 April 1996

The flag of Tito's Yugoslavia was designed by Djordje Andrejevic-Kun. According to Marijan Grakalic's Hrvatski grb (NZMH, Zagreb, 1990), referring to Enciklpoedija Jugoslavije (1980), it is supposed that Dj. Andrejevic-Kun and A. Augustincic are authors of the coat of arms of Tito's Yugoslavia and that Kun might be the author of the coat of arms of the republics.

Zeljko Heimer, 19 November 1997

Coat of arms

Six torches (five before 1963) burning in one flame, surrounded by the wreath of wheat and a blue ribbon with the date 29-XI-1943, and the red star above.

The date written on the ribbon of the emblem is 29th of November 1943. As it is usual in the region, the month is written in form of Roman numberal, so the actual writing is 29.XI.1943.
That is the date of the second session of AVNOJ held in Bosnian town of Jajce. AVNOJ is Anti-fascist Council of National Liberation of Yugoslavia (Antifasisticko Vjece Narodnog Oslobodenja Jugoslavije), the organization that functioned as the parliament of the partisan movement. On the second session on the mentioned date the Council took several important decisions that are considered as the basis of establishment of the new, post-Second World War Yugoslavia. Among the decisions are the future federal organization of the state (that was, by the way, also the basis for separation of the republics in 1990's), the ban of the return of the king Peter II from London until the free elections were made after the war to decide on the question of the kind of organization (republic vs. monarchy), giving the title of Marshall to Josip Broz Tito, and quite a few more that I do not remember any more.
Afterwards, the date was celebrated as the Day of the Republic.

The coat of arms of SFR Yugoslavia had a white background, but sometimes it was light blue. In M. Ciric's book Heraldika 1, it is stated that the arms should be on a light blue circular shield (since in heraldry there is a rule 'no shield - no coat of arms'), but I have never seen it in use that way.

Zeljko Heimer, 1 April 1996 & 23 June 2000

Presidential Standard

[Presidential Flag of SFR Yugoslavia]by Zeljko Heimer

The President's flag was 1:1 in proportion. The flag was blue over white over red, with the state coat of arms. The edges of the flag were made of red, white and blue triangles. This flag was used by president Tito, but I don't know if it was used after his death by the latter presidents. I don't have the exact date when this flag was adopted, but it must be after 29 November 1963, or just then, when the state coat of arms was changed from five torches to six. It might be that before that the five torches version was used.

Zeljko Heimer, 1 April 1996

Civil ensign

The flag for use on merchant vessels was the same as the national flag, but in 2:3 proportion.

Zeljko Heimer, 1 April 1996