What Do the Colors of Germany's Flag Stand For?

colors-germany-s-flag-stand Credit: Michael Blann/Stone/Getty Images

Among other things, the three horizontal stripes of black, red and gold on Germany's flag are associated with the post World War I republican democracy the country formed, representing German freedom and unity. Throughout the Weimar Republic, which lasted from 1919 through Adolf Hitler's turn as chancellor, the three colors represented the official colors of the democratic, centrist and republican political parties.

The colors of the German flag have been tied to Germany since medieval times. During the 19th century Napoleonic wars, German soldiers' uniforms consisted of black coats featuring red braid and gold buttons.

While the current German flag was officially adopted in 1949, versions of it have existed at various times in the nation's history. A similar flag was adopted in 1848, only to be abolished four years later. Yet another was adopted as the flag of the Weimar Republic in 1919. The Third Reich replaced it with its own flag in 1933.

After World War II, both West and East Germany used the tricolor flag. The two countries' flags remained identical until East Germany added a coat of arms in 1959. Since the two nation's were reunited in 1990, the flag has been the black-red-gold tricolor. Germans view the three colors as representing their country's unity.

Beginning in 2006, when Germany was among top contenders for the World Cup title as well as serving as the World Cup host country, Germans started flying their flag with renewed national pride.