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Independent State of Croatia (1941-1945): Army flags

Last modified: 2011-08-20 by ivan sache
Keywords: independent state of croatia | marshal | vojskovodj | kvaternik (slavko) | general | trefoil (yellow) | cross: zvonimir |
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Vojskovodj (Marchal)

[Marshal flag]         [Detail]

Marshal's flag and detail of the crest - Images by Željko Heimer, 30 December 1999

Vojskovodja was the highest rank of the Independent State of Croatia's regular army (Domobrani, "Home Guard"), equaled with the rank of Marshal. The only person who bore it was Slavko Kvaternik, from April 1941 to his retirement in January 1943. Kvaternik was, in the same time, Ministar Hrvatskog Domobranstva, a kind of Minister of Defence. The Ministry was renamed in January 1943 Ministarstvo Oružanih snaga and took the command of the Ustaša forces (Ustaška vojnica), as well, which where until then a separate body. Since then the term Domobranstvo designated only the Army (Land Forces) and not the entire armed forces.

The flag of the Vojskovodja is shown in Domobranski priručnik (Military Guidebook), issued in 1942. The image is black and white, with stripes hatched with heraldical lines for red and blue, while the elements encircling the coat of arms are not hatched. Comparing with the Poglavnik's flag and the Air Force flag, I assume that these elements are embroideried in silk and outlined in black.
The flag is a square Croatian tricolor with the Croatian coat of arms (checky shield, "first-white" square), outlined with a border, offset somewhat lower than the flag center, set over two sword in saltire, topped with the Air Force badge (spread eagle), wich in turn is topped with the wattle from the State coat of arms, in which "U" is replaced with "NDH", for "Nezavisna Država Hrvatska", the official name of the state. The whole symbol was the badge of the Domobranstvo.
The eagle in the badge is slightly different from the eagle set in the Air Force ensign. It is turned towards the hoist in this flag and has one more "feather" in the lower parts of wings. The two images on which are based the drawings on this page are from the same source, which may indicate that two different badges were actually used. The difference could also be due to artistic licence by the illustrator of the guidebook.

Vexillological sources are silent about this flag. Most of the sources are derived from Neubecker's collections, which were prepared in 1941, when the flag might have not yet been in use, and in 1944, when this flag would have been outdated.

Željko Heimer & Krunoslav Mikular, 30 December 1999


General commanding an Army branch (unconfirmed)

[General]

Flag of a General commanding an Army branch, 1944, unconfirmed design - Image by Željko Heimer, 5 October 1999

Dr. O. Neubecker's papers include a whole list of flags of the Independent State of Croatia dated 1944, probably prepared for the next update of the Kriegsmarine's Flaggenbuch [neu92]. These flags certainly originate from Croatia, but their source and status are not confirmed. One assumption is that these are proposals that were never actually adopted. They were not confirmed by any other independent source.
This source shows the flag of a General commanding an Army branch as a square Croatian tricolor flag with three golden trefoils set in diagonal, one in each stripe. The height and width of a trefoil is 1/5 of the flag's hoist. The trefoil (trolist), also called the Cross of Zvonimir, for the Croatian King Zvonimir-Demetrius, ruled 1075-1089, is a marking of the Armed Forces of the Independent State of Croatia; it was also used during the Austro-Hungarian rule in Domobranstvo. The generals' flags follow the model, in use by most of Armies at the time, where more markings denote higher rank.

Željko Heimer & Emil Dreyer, 30 December 1999


General Lieutenant (unconfirmed)

[General Lieutenant]

Flag of a General Lieutenant, 1944, unconfirmed design - Image by Željko Heimer, 5 October 1999

Dr. O. Neubecker's papers include a whole list of flags of the Independent State of Croatia dated 1944, probably prepared for the next update of the Kriegsmarine's Flaggenbuch [neu92]. These flags certainly originate from Croatia, but their source and status are not confirmed. One assumption is that these are proposals that were never actually adopted. They were not confirmed by any other independent source.
This source shows the flag of a General Lieutenant with two trefoils in the red and blue stripes, respectively.

Željko Heimer & Emil Dreyer, 30 December 1999


General (unconfirmed)

[General]

Flag of a General, 1944, unconfirmed design - Image by Željko Heimer, 5 October 1999

Dr. O. Neubecker's papers include a whole list of flags of the Independent State of Croatia dated 1944, probably prepared for the next update of the Kriegsmarine's Flaggenbuch [neu92]. These flags certainly originate from Croatia, but their source and status are not confirmed. One assumption is that these are proposals that were never actually adopted. They were not confirmed by any other independent source.
This source shows the flag of a General with only one trefoil in the middle of the flag.

Željko Heimer & Emil Dreyer, 30 December 1999


Unit colors

8th Motorized Compny

[General]

Color of the 8th Motorized Company - Image by Mislav Miholek, 26 March 2006

The color of the 8th Motorized Company of the Ustaša Army is similar to the national flag of the period, without the coat of arms in the middle and in its place an arched black inscription bearing the name of the unit "8. MOTORIZIRANA SATNIJA". The drawing is based on a photo from the book Hrvatske Oružane Snage 1941.-1945 by Mikulan and Pogačić.
This would presumably be the standard design of the colors of the the Ustaša units of the period.

Željko Heimer & Mislav Miholek, 26 March 2006


369th Infantry Regiment

[Historical flag]     [Historical flag]

Flag of the 369th Infantry Regiment, reverse and obverse - Images by Željko Heimer; 30 September 1999

Silk rep, multicolored relief silk embroidery and gold embroidery, accessories, wood. 85 x 120 cm, length of flagstaff 230 cm.
Rectangular flag, the obverse (photo) in the colors of the Croatian tricolor, the reverse (photo) in golden-white silk.
Obverse: A Croatian tricolor edged with a silver border with small red, white and blue triangular flames. The centre of the field holds the State coat of arms. Above the coat of arms, in the red field, the inscription reads "ŠTO BOG DA", while the inscription in the blue field reads "I SREĆA JUNAČKA". The top corner near the staff holds the number of the regiment, 369.
Reverse: The centre of the field holds the monogram "AP" (Ante Pavelić) embroidered in dark red. The embroidered inscription around the monogram reads "ZA POGLAVNIKA I ZA DOM".
The flagstaff is simple, and the finial has not been preserved.

Source: Jelena Borošak-Marijanović, Zastave kroz stoljeca [bor96]

Željko Heimer, 20 August 2000

The inscription on the flag are (obverse) "By the Grace of God and the Deeds of Heros," and (reverse) "For the Leader and Fatherland".
The 369 Infantry Regiment, like the 369, 373, and 392nd were indeed German formations with Croatian troops and was not Croatian Army (Domobran) or Waffen-SS. The Regiment was formed soon after the order to do so was given on 2 July 1941 as an all volunteer force which was sent to the Eastern Front as part of the 100th Mountain Division, where it was destroyed at Stalingrad. The flag in question may have been awarded to the unit in July 1941, although I have seen no photographic evidence of the flag when the unit was reviewed by Poglavnik Ante Pavelić in Zagreb or by Croatian Marshal Slavko Kvaternik that fall.
The exact flag in the photograph may have been issued or reissued to the "second" 369 Regiment (Grenadier Regiment) which was the "tradition bearer" of the first unit and which had "first" 369 Infantry Regiment soldiers who, usually wounded, had been evacuated before it was destroyed at Stalingrad. The "second" 369 Grenadier Regiment was formed in September 1942 and trained in Dollersheim (now Austria) under the command of Oberst (Colonel) Fritz Neidholt (Brigadier as of 1 October 1 1942). The 369 Grenadier Regiment became the foundation of the 369 Infantry Division formed on 18 December 1942, which was followed by the 373rd and 392nd Infantry Divisions, all with Croatian troops and German, as well as some Croatian officers. In addition to the 369 Grenadier Regiment, within the 369 Infantry Division, were found the 370 Grenadier Regiment; the 369 Reconnaissance Section 369 Artillery Regiment; 369 Armored-Ranger Section; 369 Engineer Battalion; the 369 Communications Section; and the 369 Field Reserve Battalion. Any or all may have had some form of this flag. The official 369 Infantry Division flag was not presented until 16 May 1944. It had the same "AP" reverse as the flag pictured. I have never seen the obverse.
Most of the information above is from F. Schraml's Kriegsschauplatz Kroatien (Neckargemünd, Germany: Kurt Vowinckel Verlag, 1962), with the definitive history of the three divisions with an excellent picture of the 369th flag on parade (p. 48A) being held by its commander, Oberst Fischer in German uniform with Croatian sleeve insignia. This photo was taken in late 1942 and the flag may well be a reproduction of the first which, if it went to Stalingrad, could not have come back. Since the flag only has the number "369" and no notation of "Infantry" or "Grenadier" whether this is the original or not is unknown.

Michael McAdams, 4 July 2000


Italian Legion

The flag of the little-known Italian Legion (photos), which drove trucks on the Eastern Front (Lako Prevozni Zdrug, Light Transportation Company), was the standard red-white-blue flag with a 25 field chessboard, bordered in gold in the center. Above the shield, in the red was the ancient crown of the Croatian Kingdom (Crown of King Zvonimir), since Italy appointed its own "king" of Croatia. The crown is unique with a rounded shape and "sideburns" more like a Roman helmet. To left and right of the shield are fasces, blades out, and the motto "Bog i Hrvati" ("God and the Croats"). The entire flag was bordered with red, white, and blue triangles like the flag of the 369th Infantry Regiment and the Poglavnik's flag. The reverse had the letter "U" surrounded by braid of three strands. It also had the fasces and an inscription starting with "Za Dom Spremni" (For the Homeland Ready). Attached to the top of the flag was a streamer, color unknown.

Michael McAdams, Željko Heimer & Marcus Wendel, 28 April 2008