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The Blutfahne (pronounced [bluːtˈfaːnə], "Blood-flag") was an individual Nazi German Swastika flag used in the failed Beer Hall Putsch in Munich, Germany on 9 November 1923. It subsequently became one of the most revered objects of the Nazi Party. The flag was that of the 5th SA Sturm that was covered in blood from members of the Nazi Party who had been shot by the Munich police (primarily from party member Andreas Bauriedl, who fell on top of the flag when he was shot and killed).
There were two stories about what happened to the flag in the aftermath of the Putsch: one was that the flagbearer Heinrich Trambauer took the flag to a friend where he removed it from its staff before leaving with it hidden inside his jacket and later giving it to a Karl Eggers for safekeeping. The other story was that the flag was confiscated by the Munich authorities and was later returned to the Nazis via Eggers.
Regardless of which story was the correct one, after Adolf Hitler was released from Landsberg prison (after serving nine months of a five-year prison sentence for his part in the putsch), Eggers gave the flag to him. It was then fitted to a new staff and finial and just below the finial was a silver dedication sleeve which bore the names of the three dead participants of the putsch. Bauriedl was one of the three honorees. In addition, the flag was no longer attached to the staff by its original sewn-in sleeve, but by a red-white-black intertwined cord which ran through the sleeve instead.
The flag was thereafter treated as a sacred object by the Nazi Party and carried by SS-Sturmbannführer Jakob Grimminger at various Nazi party ceremonies. One of the most visible uses of the flag was by Adolf Hitler, who, at the Party's annual Nuremberg rallies, touched other Nazi banners with the Blutfahne, thereby "sanctifying" them.
When not in use, the Blutfahne was kept at the headquarters of the Nazi Party in Munich (the Brown House) with an SS guard of honor. The flag had a small tear in it, believed to have been caused during the Putsch, that went unrepaired for a number of years.
The Blutfahne was last seen in public at the Volkssturm induction ceremony on 18 October 1944 (not, as frequently reported, at Gauleiter Adolf Wagner's funeral six months previously). This ceremony was conducted by Heinrich Himmler and attended by Keitel, Guderian, Lammers, Bormann, Fiehler, Schepmann and Kraus.
After this last public display, the Blutfahne vanished into history. Its current whereabouts are unknown and it is not even certain whether the flag still exists.
- Davis, Brian L. (1975). Flags and Standards of the Third Reich: Army, Navy and Air Force 1933–1945. London: Macdonald and Jane’s. ISBN 978-1-356-04879-3.
- Blutfahne at Flags of the World.