In late August, shocking images went viral of hoisted Imperial flags before the German Bundestag around the world. But what do the individual flags and symbols mean, the Right-wing extremist on the Anti-Corona-Demos wear? What is and is not allowed in Germany?
Clearly Banned by German lawmakers are known to be all flags and symbols that have the Third Reich in connection. This includes, in addition to the Swastika as flag and as symbol about SS and SA insignia, the Hitler salute and slogans like "Sieg Heil!" or "Blood and honor".
Anti-trafficking emblems – you could be imprisoned for three years
The wearing of this Anti-catching emblems can be associated with up to three years imprisonment be punished. This also applies to easily modified swastikas or salutes – and for the distinctive signs of groups and organizations banned in Germany, such as the "Wehrsportgruppe Hoffmann".
In contrast, the flags and symbols of the German Empire until now basically allowed. And this despite the fact that these have already been in use since the Weimar Republic used as an expression of the past regime by right-wing extremist groups. Since 1945, they have consequently also served as "fallback" flags in the German right-wing extremist spectrum.
But in the meantime Bremen and Bavaria announced, the showing of the Imperial war flag punishable in public. Federal Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer (CSU) wants to put the ie on the agenda at the conference of interior ministers in December – "with the aim of a uniform approach throughout Germany". Which flags do right-wing extremists use and what is the current legal situation?? An overview.
1. Allowed and worn flags:
Imperial flag with or without imperial eagle emblem: The black-white-red flag was the flag for warships and merchant ships of the North German Confederation from 1867 to 1871, and functioned as the state flag of the German Empire from 1871 to 1918. After World War I, it continued to exist in the Weimar Republic until 1933 in addition to the official colors black-red-gold, for example in the war and trade flag. Until 1935, in addition to the swastika, it was also officially valid in the Third Reich. Black and white stand for Prussia, the red for the Hanseatic cities.
Imperial War Flag in black-white-red with eagle and Iron Cross in different variations, but without swastika: From the imperial war flag exist a total of seven versions. Waving all variants without the swastika is allowed. Reich war flags, however, can be confiscated by police under Verfangsschutz law if their use endangers public safety and order. The Imperial War Flag was created in 1867 for the Navy of the North German Confederation and was the official war flag of the German Armed Forces from 1871 to 1945. Service flag of the Foreign Office/Reichskolonialamt: Imperial eagle on black-white-red in a circular white center field. From 1892 on flag of the Foreign Office, from 1907 also of the Imperial Colonial Office. Flag of Prussia: Black-White-Black with Prussian heraldic eagle. From 1701 to 1918, the flag of the Kingdom of Prussia, the dominant German constituent state in the Empire and later (as a Free State) in the Weimar Republic. King's/emperor's flag of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation with double-headed eagle: Black eagle on yellow background. Exclusive symbol of the Roman-German emperor as well as German king from 1400 to 1806. During this period, however, also perceived as the entire imperial coat of arms.
2. Permitted and worn symbols:
Iron Cross: Since its foundation in 1813 in the wars of liberation a Prussian, later by the Nazis all-German war award. It is still the emblem of the German armed forces today, but is also used in rocker circles and in the right-wing extremism scene as a symbol of opinion. Commentary:
Attack on the Bundestag: The thin line to chaosQAnon symbolism: Q in different variations. Sign of a probably U.S. group of people who since 2017 spread conspiracy theories over the Internet with mostly right-wing extremist background. In their worldview, U.S. President Donald Trump is fighting a so-called "Deep State" in which politicians and Hollywood actors are accused of being part of an international child molester ring.
3. Other characteristics:
Whether a symbol used in the right-wing extremist milieu is banned in Germany depends to a large extent on whether it is an identifying symbol clearly used during the National Socialist era or whether it is associated with a grouping banned in Germany. If it is used in other areas of society (such as esoteric movements), it is usually not forbidden.
The Triskele (three-armed swastika), Wolfsangel and Odal rune, for example, are only punishable in connection with banned and right-wing extremist organizations.
Not punishable, because also in other social areas used, are however for example black sun (twelve-armed swastika), Thorshammer, Wotansknoten, cogwheel and Elhaz Rune.