The flag of Germany’s capital city was officially adopted in May 1954 as the flag of the free city of West Berlin.
Designed by vexillologist Ottfried Neubecker, the 3:5-proportioned red-white-red horizontal tricolour with the city’s emblem in the center, finished second in a 1952 contest, but the winner was rejected by the Senate of Berlin.
The bear emblem is a pun on the city’s name. ‘Little bear’ in German is Bärlein, which sounds like Berlin. It is unknown why Berliners chose a bear for their own coat of arms in place of an eagle, but they may have taken inspiration from Albert the Bear (Albert I), the first Margrave of Brandenburg (c.1100-1170). The position Margrave of Brandenburg eventually became Emperor of Germany.
Bonus Fact: East Berlin’s flag featured two additional white stripes at the top and bottom, as well as a crowned escutcheon around the bear.
Alex Crouch is a 2014 journalism graduate from Southampton Solent University. He has followed Formula One since before he started infant school, was a Games Maker during the London Paralympics and saw Pink Floyd reunite for one song at The O2 in London. Links: Twitter, blog, YouTube. Alex is an accredited Flag Institute journalist.