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War Ensign and other Naval Flags 1960-1990 (East Germany)

Volksmarine

Last modified: 2012-09-11 by pete loeser
Keywords: german democratic republic | volksmarine |
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[War Ensign 1960-1990 (East Germany)] 3:5    Image by Jaume Ollé
Flag adopted 1960, abolished 1990


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Introduction: A Brief History of the Volksmarine

     Soon after the end of World War II the Soviet Union and the beginning of the Cold War initiated the rearming of its satellite state in East Germany. This included the gradual formation of maritime forces.
     Beginning in 1950, Soviet naval officers helped to establish the Hauptverwaltung Seepolizei (Main Administration Sea Police), which was renamed Volkspolizei-See (VP-See) (People's Police - Sea) on 1 July 1952. At the same time parts of the erstwhile maritime police were reorganized into the new Grenzpolizei See, to guard the sea frontiers, and incorporated into the Deutsche Grenzpolizei (German Border Police) that had been set up in 1946. By 1952 the VP-See is estimated to have numbered some 8,000 personnel.
     On 1 March 1956, the GDR formally created its Nationale Volksarmee (NVA) (National People's Army), and the VP-See became the Verwaltung Seestreitkräfte der NVA (Maritime Forces Administration of the NVA) with about 10,000 men. In November 1960, these maritime forces of the National People's Army were officially designated Volksmarine (People's Navy). Over the next years the navy gradually received a number of new ships, mostly built in the GDR. Only the coastal protection ships and some of the fast torpedo boats were provided by the Soviet Union, as were all helicopters, and some auxiliary craft were purchased from Poland.
     Following the building of the Berlin Wall on 13 August 1961 the Grenzbrigade Küste der Grenzpolizei (GBK) (Coastal Border Brigade of the Border Police) was incorporated into the People's Navy. With the reorganization of 1965 all attack forces, i.e., the fast torpedo boats, were combined into a single flotilla (the 6th Flotilla) and stationed on the Bug Peninsula of the Island of Rügen. In the 1970s the People's Navy had grown to about 18,000 men. In the 1980s some of the ships were replaced and the People's Navy acquired Soviet-built fighter-bombers.
Jens Pattke, 29 January 2012


War Ensign 1960-1990
Dienstflagge der Kriegschiffe und Boote der Volksmarine

Or Service Flag for Warships and Boats of the People's Navy/Dienstflagge der Kriegschiffe und Boote der Volksmarine. Similar in design to the National People's Army flag except that a black-red-gold tricolor replaces the center red stripe and the top (black) and bottom (gold) stripes are replaced by red ones. In use 1960-1990. Illustrated in Pedersen 1971, p. 33 and Smith 1975, p. 228.
Norman Martin, Feb 1998

The date of adoption of the war ensign is 3 November 1960 according to Keubke and Kunz, Uniformen der nationalen Volksarmee der DDR 1956-1986, Berlin, 1990. Pedersen 1979 and Smith 1975 both give the year without date.
Norman Martin, 21 Jun 2000


Auxiliary Navy Vessels' Ensign 1966-1990
Dienstflagge der Rettungschiffe und Boote der Volksmarine

[Auxiliary Navy Vessels' Ensign 1966-1990 (East Germany)] 3:5 Image by Jaume Ollé

Like the war ensign except the top and bottom stripes are blue instead of red. In use 1966-1990. Illustrated in Oliver 1993, p. 3.
Norman Martin, Feb 1998


Coastal Border Brigade Ensign 1962-1990
Dienstflagge der Schiffe und Boote der Grenzbrigade Küste

[Coastal Border Brigade Ensign 1962-1990 (East Germany)] 3:5 Image by Jaume Ollé

Or Service Flag for Ships and Boats of the Coastal Border Brigade/Dienstflagge der Schiffe und Boote der Grenzbrigade Küste. Like the war ensign except with a vertical green stripe 1/5 of width of flag in the hoist. In use 1962-1990. Illustrated in Oliver 1993, p. 3, 27. See also the Border Police Service Ensign 1960-1961 (Dienstflagge der Grenzpolizei).
Norman Martin, Feb 1998


Ensign of the Hydrographic Service 1966-1990
Flagge der Hydrographischendienst

[Hydrographic Service Ensign (East Germany)] 3:5 Image by Jaume Ollé

Auxillary vessels ensign with a yellow lighthouse in the upper fly. Adopted 1966. Illustrated (in black and white) in Barraclough and Crampton, p.122.
Norman Martin, Febr 1998


Alternate Ensign of the Hydrographic Service 1966-1990
Flagge der Hydrographischendienst

[Hydrographic Service Ensign (East Germany), alternate] 3:5 Image by Jaume Ollé

A blue flag with the lighthouse emblem at the center. Illustrated (in black and white) in Pedersen 1980, p. 190. Relation between both is uncertain. Barraclough and Crampton and Pedersen 1970 gives the first, Pedersen 1980 gives the second, but without remarks as to date. See also the Rescue Service ensigns.
Norman Martin, Feb 1998

Although we show this alternate version of the Hydrographic Service ensign, putting the yellow emblem of a lighthouse on the auxiliary vessels ensign in the centre of a blue flag, there is some doubt about its existence.
Jan Mertens, 12 Sep 2009


Service Pennant of the Hydrographic Service
Dienstwimpel

[Hydrographic Service Ensign (East Germany), alternate wimpel]
Image sent by Jan Mertens, 12 Sep 2009

On Flaggen, Fahnen & Effekten it shows a blue pennant (see under "Weitere Flaggen und Symbole der DDR – Schifffahrt/hydrografischer Dienst"). It is called a Dienstwimpel (service pennant). Did it ever exist? Note: the service was founded in 1950 and amalgamated with its West German counterpart in 1990.
Jan Mertens, 12 Sep 2009


Ensign of the Rescue Service 1966-1990
Flagge der Rettungsdienst

[Rescue Service Ensign 1966-1990 (East Germany)] 3:5 Image by Jaume Ollé

Like the Hydrographic Service ensign, but with a yellow diver's helmet instead of lighthouse in upper fly. Adopted 1966.
Norman Martin, Feb 1998


Alternate Ensign of the Rescue Service 1966-1990
Flagge der Rettungsdienst

[Rescue Service Ensign 1966-1990 (East Germany), alternate] 3:5 Image by Jaume Ollé

Like the alternate Hydrographic Service ensign, but with a yellow diver's helmet instead of lighthouse in center. Illustrated (in black and white) Pedersen 1980, p. 190.Relation between both is uncertain. Barraclough and Crampton and Pedersen 1970 gives the first, Pedersen 1980 gives the second, but without remarks as to date.
Norman Martin, Feb 1998


GDR Navy Jack
Gösch

[Jack (East Germany)] As illustrated on Tom Gregg's WAR FLAGS

I didn't see any mention of a GDR Navy Jack anywhere in FOTW. I know there was one and I am pretty sure it was a 1:1 red flag with the GDR coat of arms in center - like the Standard of the Chairman of the State Council without the black/red/yellow fringe. Unfortunately right now I do not have a source to confirm it.
Volker Moerbitz Keith, 9 Feb 2001

I would like to inform you as follows: "... Als Gösch ist die Staatsflagge der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik zu setzen". Source: "Anordnung über das Führen von Flaggen, Standern und Wimpeln auf Schiffen und Booten der Volksmarine - Flaggenanordnung" vom 12. Juli 1979, § 2 (3). That is: the state flag of the German Democratic Republic shall be used as jack.
Dr. Erhard Glier, 21 Mar 2004

[Jack (East Germany), alternate wimpel] Image sent by Jan Mertens, 5 Sep 2009

     Flaggen, Fahnen & Effekten shows a triangular jack (Gösch): It is shown twice, once under "Volksmarine/1950-1990/Binnen & Hilfsschiffe" and repeated under "6. Grenzbrigade Küste". The few sources I have all state – as does FOTW-ws, of course – that the (rectangular) state flag also served as jack. Still, the picture in question is included here.
     Such a pennant did exist but whether is was official or meant for patriotic display I do not know. This image was found in a German eBay offer (no. 110189158651, ended 14 Nov 2007, put up by "fraenkialero"). Said to have been made from cotton, with emblem sewn on, and measuring 18 cm x 28 cm.
Jan Mertens, 5 Sep 2009


Commissioning Pennant for Auxiliary Vessels
Wimpel eines Kommandanten (Hilfsschiffe)

[Commissioning Pennant for Auxiliary Vessels, army flag (East Germany)]

[Commissioning Pennant for Auxiliary Vessels, plain tricolour (East Germany)]
Images by Jaume Ollé

Two patterns: with and without the Army emblem.
Norman Martin, 13 Jan 1998

I once bought an East German Volksmarine pennant after the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Above we have two versions of a commissioning pennant, with and without the GDR emblem, both of them blue. The one I have at home is like the first one, but red.
Marco Pribilla, 22 Nov 2001

The red version was for commanders of fighting ships and boats, and the blue for commanders of auxiliary vessels. In the Gesetzblatt der DDR, Sonderdruck nr. 1014 of 30 November 1979 labelled Wimpel eines Kommandanten (Kampfschiffe und -boote) and Wimpel eines Kommandanten (Hilfsschiffe) respectively.
Mark Sensen, 23 Nov 2001

Are the official proportions of the pennants known? Mine differs slightly from the above image, being 10 × 200 cm over all, of which the tricolour part at hoist is 19 cm long. The upper tail is clearly longer than the lower one (33 cm vs. 24 cm) but this could be a mistake as the entire pennant is rather rough work.
Marco Pribilla, 23 Nov 2001


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