Original German WWII Battle Flag 80cm x 135cm by Textildruck Arlt in Schönheide - POW Bring Back

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. Purchased directly from the veteran's family! Paul G Matrafailo ASN 32680812 was born in 1920 and enlisted on December 10th, 1942. During WW2 he was a member of the 399th Infantry Regiment Barrage Artillery Platoon and was captured and imprisoned at Stalag V-A which was a German World War II prisoner-of-war camp (Stammlager) located on the southern outskirts of Ludwigsburg, Germany. After his release he took this flag as a memento of the war and returned home to the United States with it. It remained in his family until purchased from his nephew by IMA in April, 2018. Included with this flag is a signed letter from Matrafailo's nephew regarding the history of this flag.

Reichskriegsflagge (Imperial War Flag) was the official name of the war flag and war ensign used by the German armed forces from 1933 to 1945. Recently acquired from a veteran's estate this is without a doubt the most impressive battle flag of the German WW2 era, it measures 31.50in x 53in or 80cm x 135cm.

Constructed of wool with a bright red background with a large white central circle displaying a huge swas with the German Naval Cross design also in black to the edges. In the top corner is a black on white Iron cross.

This battle flag is totally original and is in excellent condition only with no discernible damage anywhere. Nicely stamped Textildruck Arlt inb. Oskar u. Kurt Arlt Schönheide/Erzgeb. This is among the very best examples of this flag available anywhere.

Designed personally by Adolf AH, this flag served the Heer and the Luftwaffe as their War Flag, and the Kriegsmarine as its War Ensign (the National Flag serving as Jack). This flag was hoisted daily in barracks operated by units of the Wehrmacht combined German military forces, and it had to be flown from a pole positioned near the barracks entrance, or failing this, near the guard room or staff building. New recruits in the latter part of World War II were sworn in on this flag (one recruit holding the flag and taking the oath on behalf of the entire recruit class with the recruits looking on as witnesses - before, this was done on the regimental colors).

The flag had to be formally hoisted every morning and lowered every evening. These hoisting and lowering ceremonies took the form of either an ordinary or a ceremonial flag parade. At the ordinary raising, the party consisted of the Orderly Officer of the Day, the guard, and one musician. At the ceremonial raising, one officer, one platoon of soldiers with rifles, the guard, the regimental band, and the corps of drums were all present.

The proportions of the flag are 3:5. Fusing elements of the NSDAP German Flag (swas and red background) with that of the old Imperial Reich War Flag (four arms emanating from off-center circle and Iron Cross in the canton), these flags were uniformly produced as a printed design on bunting.

Raised for the first time at the Bendlerstraße Building (Wehrmacht Headquarters) in Berlin on November 7, 1935, It was taken down for the last time by British occupation forces after the arrest of the Dönitz Government at the Naval Academy Mürwik in Flensburg-Mürwik, Germany, on May 23, 1945.

In his book, Inside the Third Reich, Albert Speer states that "in only two other designs did he (Adolf AH) execute the same care as he did his Obersalzberg house: that of the Reich War Flag and his own standard of Chief of State."

Stalag 5A
The prison camp had been constructed on the site of a former German military camp, that had once billeted German cavalry troops and their horses. The red brick stables were converted to barracks to house prisoners when the site was converted to a POW camp in October 1939. Additional wooden barrack huts were also constructed on the grounds, to accommodate the camp's growing prisoner population.

The roofs of the buildings within the camp were marked "KG" for Kriegsgefangenen, the German word meaning "prisoner of war". Large red crosses were also painted on the roofs, to further ensure that Allied planes would not mistakenly target the camp.

The sprawling prison complex was divided into compounds. The perimeter of the each compound was secured by a double barbed-wire fence, fifteen feet in height, on top of which ran a high-voltage wire. The space between the two fences was a tangled mass of barbed-wire. On the prisoners' side of the fence, a wire ran parallel with the fence, staked to the ground approximately ten feet from the fence, six to eight inches above the ground. Any man who stepped between the wire and the fence was shot on sight. Every so many yards along the fence was a guard tower, fully armed and manned.

The first prisoners detained at the camp had been Poles, taken captive during the German invasion of Poland in 1939. As the war progressed, prisoners of other nationalities arrived at Stalag V-A. By the time of the camp's evacuation in April 1945, Allied prisoners of every nation at war with Germany were present within the camp. The largest population present within the camp was Soviet, followed by the French, Belgian, Dutch, British and Commonwealth, Italian, and American prisoners were also present in large numbers.

1935. A German military camp is constructed on the southern edge of Ludwigsburg. The site included a warehouse, 17 barracks, and a number of horse stables.
October 1939. The camp at Ludwigsburg is converted to a prisoner-of-war camp, to accommodate Polish prisoners taken captive during the German invasion of Poland.
May 1940. Belgian, Dutch and French prisoners arrived that had been captured during the Battle of France. British prisoners captured at Dunkirk also arrive in the camp. On 15 October 1940 the family of Helene Pitrou was informed by the Red Cross that her father Lucien Pitrou of 42e R.I.F. was interned in the camp.
1941-1942. Many Soviet prisoners arrived, but they were kept in separate enclosures and received much harsher treatment. Thousands died of malnutrition and disease.
Most of the lower rank soldiers were transferred to Labor camps in the area to work in factories, repairing roads and railroads, working on farms. However, the administration of these Arbeitskommandos remained at the main camp, which was also responsible for dividing up International Red Cross packages and mail service.
1944. Following the Allied landings at Normandy and the subsequent fighting in France, American prisoners begin to arrive at the camp. American prisoners are held in the same compound as the French, Belgian, and Italian prisoners.
The camp is evacuated on the evening of Easter, April 1, 1945. Prisoners detained at the camp, at the time of evacuation, take part in a forced march across southern Germany.

There were several attempts to escape, primarily from Arbeitskommandos. One such escape attempt was by the Dutch prisoner Arie Verouden in October 1943. He was recaptured in December and sentenced to two years solitary confinement.

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