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Socialist Yugoslavia (1945-1991)

Last modified: 2013-06-24 by ivan sache
Keywords: yugoslavia | coat of arms: yugoslavia | star (red) | torches: 5 (red) | torches: 6 (red) | civil ensign |
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[Federal Peoples' Republic of Yugoslavia]

Flag of Socialist Yugoslavia - Image by Željko Heimer, 19 November 1997


See also:


Flag of Socialist Yugoslavia

The successive names of the so-called "Socialist Yugoslavia" were:

  • Democratic Federal Yugoslavia (Demokrativna Federativna Jugoslavija, 29 November 1943 - 29 November 1945;
  • Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia (Federativna Narodna Republika Jugoslavija), 29 November 1945 - 7 April 1963;
  • Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Socijalistiška Federativna Republika Jugoslavija), 7 April 1963 - 15 January 1992.

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 instead of it.
The blue-white-red flag was invented after the First World War, as the only heraldically correct combination of these colours not previously used. Red-white-blue was the other acceptable combination, but was then already long established as the Croatian flag.

Smith [smi75c] 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. The version with the yellow outlined red star was officially adopted on 31 January 1946 and abandoned in the spring of 1991. The flags of the Federal Republics with stars were made a year later (1947).

The new Constitution of Yugoslavia was adopted on 31 January 1946, as well as the new national flag. This flag was not changed until the early 1990s when the state fell apart.

[Construction sheet for the flag]

Construction sheet for the flag of Yugoslavia - Image by Željko Heimer, 19 November 1997

The star is inscribed in an imaginary circle with diameter 2/3 of the flag length and with the center matching the crossing points of the diagonals of the flag (i.e., the center of the flag). In this way the top point of the star would reach exactly the middle of the blue stripe, while the lower two points would not reach that far, but accordingly less. The width of the yellow fimbriation was never explicitely defined. The flag proportion is 1:2.

The flag was designed by Đorđe Andrejević-Kun. According to Marijan Grakalić's Hrvatski grb [grk90], referring to Enciklopedija Jugoslavije (1980), it is supposed that Andrejević-Kun and A. Augustinčić are the authors of the coat of arms of Yugoslavia and that Kun might be the author of the coat of arms of the republics.

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

Source: Pomorska enciklopedija VII: Zastava, Jugoslavenski leksikografski zavod, Zagreb, 1964

Željko Heimer, 19 November 1997


Coat of arms

[Coat of arms, 1946]      [Coat of arms, 1963]

Coat of arms of Yugoslavia - Images by Željko Heimer, 25 October 2003
Left, first version, 1946-1963
Right, second version, 1963-1991

The coat of arms of the new state was designed around 1943 by the artist Đorđe Andrejević-Kun, with the date of the Jajce conference added after it. It was officially adopted only in the 1946 Constitution, with a slightly different artistic representation.
The silver circular shield was as a rule omitted, especially in the latter time, but the Yugoslav heraldists (for instance, Miloš Ćirić, Heraldika.1 [cir88]) claim that it was an essential part of the coat of arms.

Source: Symbol und Wirtschaft [suw50i]

In 1963 the name of the state was changed to Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia, just as all the people's republics forming it were renamed Socialist republics. Mainly due to the question of the Bosnian Muslims not being represented in the five torches representing the five Yugoslav nations, the number of the torches was increased to six, with a new meaning, which was the number of the constituent republics.
As for the first version, the silver circular shield was often omitted, even in official use, although the heraldists of the period insisted that it should be there.
The national flag was not changed, but the naval flags that included the coat of arms were modified.

Željko Heimer, 25 October 2003


Civil ensign

[Civil ensign]

Civil ensign of Yugoslavia - Image by Željko Heimer, 25 October 2003

The civil ensign is prescribed by the law on establishment of the merchant ensign and inland navigation ensign of FPRY (Zakon o ustanovljenju zastave trgovačke mornarice i brodarstva unutražnje plovidbe FNRJ), adopted on 21 March 1950 and published in the official gazette Službeni list FNRJ 11/50. The ensign was prescribed to be similar to the national flag, but in proportions 2:3.
The civil ensign was used by all ships except those in military and border guard service, which included the other state services.

Source: Pomorska enciklopedija VII: Zastava, Jugoslavenski leksikografski zavod, Zagreb, 1964

Željko Heimer, 25 October 2003


Flags to be hoisted on state holidays

Decision Odluka o isticanju zastava na kućama prigodom državnih praznika, reported on 29 March 1958 in Novosti (scan), prescribes that "all commercial organizations, institutions, house councils and house owners shall hoist flags during the state holidays, as determined with the Federal and Republican regulations". The Decision was adopted in the Town of Vinkovci, "Republican" refering here to Croatia. It is very probable that similar Decisions was adopted in other towns as well.

The flags were required to be hoisted in the eve of the holiday and taken down the next day after the holiday; this is the same custom as prescribed today in the region - unlike the western habit of hoisting the flags in the morning and taking them down in the evening of the same day.
Guilty people could be fined up to 2000 dinars (for the sake of comparison, the newspaper costed 10 dinars). The flags that were actually to be hoisted are not mentioned here, being regulated by the "Federal and Republican" legislation; as a rule, these would be the three flags of Yugoslavia, Croatia and of the Communist Party.

Article Isticanje državnih i republičkih zastava obavezno, published on 19 March 1976 in Vinkovačke novosti, (scan) reminds the public on the Decision of the municipality of Vinkovci (not the one of 1958 mentioned above, but a new one, reportedly published on 24 December 1975 in the Vinkovci official gazette Službeni vjesnik Općine Vinkovci, No. 13). Here it is explicitly stated that the flags of Yugoslavia and Croatia are to be hoisted for the State, Republican and Town holidays. The article further reports how a sufficient number of flags shall be made available for purchase in the local stores, and reports the fines for not following the Decision, reaching 2000 dinars (for the sake of comparison, the newspaper costed 2 dinars).

Article Zastavice, published on 24 January 1996 in Vinkovačke novosti (scan) expresses concern of citizens regarding the flags that were hoisted on the lamp posts for the New Year and were still left there for almost a month - citizens being concerned that they would be ruined and that they would have to finance new ones.. The local town company explained that the problem was quite basic - the spears on which the flag were hoisted were of almost the same diameter as the pipes on the lamp posts into which they were fixed - and after the wood was made wet - it was impossible to take them out. The photo next to the article shows such sets of flags on the lamp posts, in the usual set of three - Yugoslavia, Croatia, Communist Party.

Željko Heimer, 12 August 2012


Proposal of new national flag (1963)

[Federal Peoples' Republic of Yugoslavia]

Flag proposal, 1963 - Image by Željko Heimer, 9 August 2012

An article published on 16 March 1963 in Glas Podravine reports that the Constitutional Commission of the Federal Parliament of Yugoslavia ended the two-years long process for proposing the new Constitution for the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia, to be delivered to the parliament at least by 20th April 1963, expectedly on 4th April. The long debate included many public discussions (70,000 meetings with over 6 millions participants).
The new Constitution was expected to change the name of the State (to Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, as it eventually did happen) to change the flag (it did not happen) and to introduce the office of Vice-President (it did not happen).
Unfortunately, this reports barely mentions the proposed flag change, only providing a quick description, "red with the State coat of arms". However, a flag matching this general description was used as the naval jack.

An almost identical article (Plebiscitarna potvrda ustavnih principa) on the proposed changes in the Constitution, including the same vague description of thenewly proposed flag ("red with the State arms") was p×blished on 14 March 1963 in Varaždinske vijesti, No. 890.

Željko Heimer, 6 August 2012

The (Manchester) Guardian had an article on 7 March 1963 with the following text:

Yugoslavs to adopt red flag
Belgrade, March 6 [1963]

Yugoslavia is to have a red national flag to show more strongly the socialist character of the State; however, it will no longer be styled a "People's republic."
These proposals were considered by a Parliamentary Constitutional Commission here today. A new draft Constitution containing these changes is expected to be submitted to the Federal People's Assembly next month for final approval.
The red flag, bearing the State coat of arms, will replace the present blue, white, and red tricolour with a red star in the middle. The present flag was retained in a preliminary draft of the new Constitution published four months ago, and the change appeared in an edited version submitted to the commission today, after public discussion and consultations with the Yugoslav Communist Party executive committee. In the draft Yugoslavia is styled a Socialist republic instead of a "People's" republic as at present.
[...]

Jos Poels, 8 August 2012