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District, County and Municipal Flags (Bavaria, Germany)

Bezirks-, Landkreis- und Gemeindeflaggen

Last modified: 2007-06-16 by jarig bakker
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The Districts: County-Free Cities (kreisfreier Städte): Other Municipalities (andere Gemeinden): See also:

District Flags / Bezirksflaggen

Bezirke (districts) are the third communal layer in Bavaria; the others are the Landkreise (counties) and the Gemeinden (municipalities) or Städte (towns and cities). In the larger Länder of Germany (including Bavaria) there are Regierungsbezirke which are only administrative divisions and not self-governing entities as the Bezirke in Bavaria. The Bezirke in Bavaria are territorially identical with the Regierungsbezirke (e.g. Regierung von Oberbayern), but are a different form of administration (having their own parliaments etc.). The Bezirke have their own arms and flags (just as the Landkreise and Gemeinden). The Regierungsbezirke as offices under the [Bavarian] Ministry of the Interior use the Bavarian arms and flags.
The arms and flags of the Bezirke of Bavaria have been thoroughly described in Linder 1997 which is available online [but without images] at the Der Flaggenkurier website. My GIFs and my explanations are based on this article.
Marcus Schmöger, 27 Jan 2001

The flags of the Bavarian Bezirke are based on Linder 1997. He shows six of them as 'normal' horizontal flags, only the one of Oberbayern as a vertical flag. (...) Regarding the other Bezirke [apart from Oberbayern], I don't know [whether they use vertical or horizontal flags or both]. I asked Dieter Linder and he told me, that he reconstructed the flags according to the descriptions (usually nothing more than "divided red-white, bearing the arms" or the like). He does not have photos of these flags, as they are rarely seen. They only show up occasionally on the buildings of the Bezirk (e.g. on the occasion of an election of a new district president); they are also used, when the Bezirke gather once in a year.

There are not many examples of these flags available, so that they have to bring their own flag for this assembly. Dieter Linder tried for several years to get photos of this assembly showing the flags, without success up to now. The Bezirke themselves were not able or willing to provide photos of their flags. I personally assume that most or even all of the Bezirke use vertical flags with the arms slightly shifted to the top of the flag. This is the normal form of city or municipal flag here in Bavaria. Most official authorities (e.g. the Bavarian ministries) use vertical flags (German and Bavarian) as their official flag on the building. So one could call that 'regular' here in Bavaria.
Marcus Schmöger, 2 Feb 2001

Municipal Flags / Gemeindeflaggen

As of 1st January 1994 Bavaria comprised 2,056 municipalities. Nearly all of them show arms of their own, and I estimate freely that no more than 20 municipalities are without arms. The number of municipal flags is certainly not so high, since they often have been adopted later, but presumably more than 50% of the municipalities are using flags of their own. Unfortunately till now there is no comprehensive publication of all of the incumbent municipal arms or flags of Bavaria. There are only books in regard to certain regions.

But one can say, that nearly all municipal flags show two or three stripes, always of equal width, and the municipal Arms may appear on them. The colours of the stripes always must derive from the main colours of the Arms [livery colours]. The heraldic rules are transferred to the flags, i.e. the rule of no metal beside a colour. The only accepted colours are white, yellow, red, green, blue and black. Some examples:
- Bamberg: red over white, deliberately with or without the arms
- Bayreuth: black over white, always with arms superimposed
- Garching bei München: green over white over red
- Garching an der Alz: arms granted 16 Jan 1957 and showing a silver bridge with a silver cross on it, thus dividing horizontally a red over blue field. The base shows blue waves. A flag is not known to me, but may be presumed. Dieter Linder, 11 Jan 1999
- Landshut: white over red, the arms on a white square in the head of the flag
- Nürnberg: red over white, presently without the arms
- Passau: red over white
- Regensburg: red over white, with the superimposed arms

No rule without exceptions:
- Augsburg: red over green over white, always without the arms (a break of the heraldic colour rules)
- Schweinfurt has a traditional flag: white eagle on blue background (a break of the stripe rule)

These guidelines had been provided by the state archives which have to advise the municipalities before and during the adoption of the symbols. Unfortunately the rule to use only striped flags causes a monotony of Bavarian city flags. In other German states these strict rules do not apply at any rate.
Dieter Linder, 18 Nov 1998

In Bavarian municipalities there is never a distinction between a civil flag and a state or service flag. When different variants exist, i.e. with arms and without arms, this follows a different pattern, which has basically two dimensions: a historical and an economical one.

Historically, most of the cities, towns and municipalities that adopted flags - only rarely they have flags already - just adopted the colours, and did not define the use of the arms on the flag. At least in the 1950's and 1960's it was much cheaper to just have striped flags without the arms. Later on it became more and more common to add the arms on the flag, basically for three reasons: firstly, it was affordable; secondly, other municipalities had done the same, so "our municipality has to have a flag decorated with the arms as well", and thirdly the "granting agencies" - first the Innenministerium, later the Bezirksregierungen - started to define the flag slightly more in detail.

This led to the unfortunate formulations of "sie kann mit aufgelegtem Wappen geführt werden" or "sie soll mit aufgelegtem Wappen geführt werden" or "sie muß mit aufgelegtem Wappen geführt werden" ("the flag can/shall/must be used with the coat-of-arms"). Especially the "soll" is not clearly differenced from "muß".
Marcus Schmöger, 14 Apr 2002

Most municipal coats-of-arms adopted in Bavaria in the 1950's were drawn by Emil Werz. He had his distinct, ornate style including a quite unusual kind of shield. This shield design included the white 'relief' shown on several arms in my website - see for instance the Erding County, Moosinning, Forstern, Taufkirchen, Oberding, Grünbach and Grüntegernbach arms. Municipalities followed different ways in adapting this shield to the flag:
- Erding County itself uses a simple shield (as has been recommended in more recent times)
- Forstern and Oberding use the ornate shield, but colour this relief not in the original white, but in the colour of the field (yellow or blue, respectively)
- Taufkirchen/Vils uses the ornate shield without changes
- Moosinning uses a simple shield, but adds the white stripe at the top.

This shows that neither the municipalities, nor the flag makers, are usually aware of the fact that the artistical rendering of the coat-of-arms is not the most important part of the coat-of-arms, but the blazoning.
Marcus Schmöger, 10 May 2002

Descriptions of Other Municipal Flags

German city flags [quoted from Flaggenmitteilungen?]:
Municipality or Gemeinde - colours (* with coat-of-arms)
Benningen - yellow-black-white
Bernhardswald - green-white-green*
Eckental - black-white
Ering - yellow-blue-white
Finning - blue-white-black
Himmelstadt - red-white*
Hofstetten - white-red-white
Holzkirchen - white-black-yellow
Johannesberg - blue-white-blue*
Kammental - yellow-red-white
Kemnat - black-yellow-white
Kinsau - black-yellow-green
Kleinostheim - yellow-red
Kronburg - green-white-black
Lautertal - yellow-green
Mitterskirchen - blue-white-blue
Mitwitz - yellow-black
Neubiberg - white-blue-yellow
Neuhütten - white-red-white*
Oberalting-Seefeld - yellow-blue
Oberpfaffenhofen - red-white-red*
Oberstimm - blue-yellow-red
Postbauer-Heng - black-yellow-blue
Pürgen - black-white-green
Rieden a.d. Kotz - white-red*
Rohrbach - green-white-black
Rothenbuch - red-white*
Schonau - yellow-black-white
Seehausen - blue-white-red*
Weitramsdorf - yellow-blue
Wernberg-Köblitz - blue-white-black
Jaume Ollé, 24 Sep 1999

The names of the municipalities (not so much cities, but a mix of small towns and villages) contain a number of spelling mistakes, and some have become renamed or incorporated into other municipalities. This is a list of corrections/updates:
- Oberalting-Seefeld: now Seefeld
- Holzkirchen: ambiguous; there are two municipalities of this name (in Oberbayern and Unterfranken, respectively), and some villages that are part of larger municipalities, but seeing as this list contains older, non-existent municipalities, they might have been independent at the time when the list was written.
- Kammental: doesn't exist, maybe Kammeltal is meant?
- Kemnat: ambiguous, since there are many locations called Kemnat or Kemnath in Bavaria. Only one of them is presently an independent municipality, Kemnath in Tirschenreuth county.
- Oberstimm: now part of Manching
- Oberpfaffenhofen: now part of Weßling
- Schonau: does not exist. The correct name could be Schönau, or Schongau, or maybe something else, I don't know.
Stefan Schwoon, 11 Feb 2002