Original Imperial German Pre-WWI Franco-Prussian War Kriegerbund Veterans Association Banner For Elten, Germany - 51” x 48”

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This is a fantastic “Warrior League” Deutscher Kriegerbund banner that was more than likely used for an anniversary or “founding day” parade. The banner is marked as being for the area of “ELTEN” and has the date of establishment as 1887. Deutscher Kriegerbund (German Warrior League) was a war veterans' and reservists' association in Germany established in April 1873 in Weißenfels.

Its origins lie in a Warrior Association established in 1786 by fusiliers of Frederick II of Prussia's army in Wangerin/Pomerania. The original purpose of the war veterans' associations was to provide their members and former soldiers with proper burial arrangements. Former soldiers felt the need for commemorative tombs that would preserve the dignity of their former comrades-in-arms and honor them even after their death. This type of association received a considerable boost after Prussia's victorious battles against the Danish (1864), Austrian (1866) and French armies in 1871.

This lovely banner measures approximately 51” x 48” and is in wonderful condition. There is no date of manufacture present, but it is our belief due to the design and construction that it dates to the Pre-WWI era. The flag features the Imperial German Spread Eagle under a Crown and ribbon banner stating "Krieger Verein" to the top and "Elten" to the bottom for the “Warrior Club” in Elten, Germany. All enclosed by a laurel wreath laid upon a Black, White and Red background of the National Colors. The flag has the establishment date of 1887 visible on this side.

Slight moth damage and evidence of the gold fringe fraying can also be seen. The opposite side depicts the famous Lady Liberty style figure of "Germania" (fans of our TV show Family Guns will remember a second very similar flag we had to this, which was sold in 2011). This flag could certainly benefit from being mounted in a double-sided frame mounting.

"Germania" is the Latin name of the country called "Deutschland" in the spoken language of its own inhabitants, though used as the country's name in various other languages, such as "Germany" in English. In the country itself, the use of the Latin "Germania" was mainly literary and poetical, linked with patriotic and nationalist feelings, like "Helvetia" for Switzerland, "Hibernia" for Ireland, "Caledonia" for Scotland, "Lusitania" for Portugal etc.

Germania as personification is usually depicted as a robust woman with long, flowing, reddish-blonde hair and wearing armor. She often wields the Reichsschwert (imperial sword), and possesses a medieval-style shield that sometimes bears the image of a black eagle on a gold field, in this case she has it visible on her breastplate. Additionally, she is sometimes shown as carrying or wearing the Imperial Crown of the Holy Roman Empire, in this example it is being held in her right hand. In post-1918 images, the banner she holds is the black-red-gold flag of modern Germany, but in depictions from 1871 to 1918 it is the black-white-red flag of the German Empire as seen on her chest.

Above and below the depiction of Germania is the phrase:

Das Reich errungen mit dem Schwert,
im Frieden haltet’s hoch und werth

Which translates in English to:

The Empire won by the sword,
in peace hold it high and with honor

The overall condition is excellent with minor age toning and wear. There are the expected moth nips but are very difficult to find and some areas in the corners that are torn and have holes. The banner still retains all 7 small brass hanging rings.

Comes more than ready for further research and display.

The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the War of 1870, was a conflict between the Second French Empire and the North German Confederation led by the Kingdom of Prussia. Lasting from 19 July 1870 to 28 January 1871, the conflict was caused primarily by France's determination to reassert its dominant position in continental Europe, which appeared in question following the decisive Prussian victory over Austria in 1866. According to some historians, Prussian chancellor Otto von Bismarck deliberately provoked the French into declaring war on Prussia in order to induce four independent southern German states—Baden, Württemberg, Bavaria and Hesse-Darmstadt—to join the North German Confederation; other historians contend that Bismarck exploited the circumstances as they unfolded. All agree that Bismarck recognized the potential for new German alliances, given the situation as a whole.

France mobilizes its army on 15 July 1870, leading the North German Confederation to respond with its own mobilization later that day. On 16 July 1870, the French parliament voted to declare war on Prussia; France invaded German territory on 2 August. The German coalition mobilized its troops much more effectively than the French and invaded northeastern France on 4 August. German forces were superior in numbers, training, and leadership and made more effective use of modern technology, particularly railways and artillery.

A series of swift Prussian and German victories in eastern France, culminating in the Siege of Metz and the Battle of Sedan, resulted in the capture of the French Emperor Napoleon III and the decisive defeat of the army of the Second Empire; a Government of National Defense was formed in Paris on 4 September and continued the war for another five months. German forces fought and defeated new French armies in northern France, then besieged Paris for over four months before it fell on 28 January 1871, effectively ending the war.

In the waning days of the war, with German victory all but assured, the German states proclaimed their union as the German Empire under the Prussian king Wilhelm I and Chancellor Bismarck. With the notable exception of Austria, the vast majority of Germans were united under a nation-state for the first time. Following an armistice with France, the Treaty of Frankfurt was signed on 10 May 1871, giving Germany billions of francs in war indemnity, as well as most of Alsace and parts of Lorraine, which became the Imperial Territory of Alsace-Lorraine (Reichsland Elsaß-Lothringen).

The war had a lasting impact on Europe. By hastening German unification, the war significantly altered the balance of power on the continent; with the new German nation state supplanting France as the dominant European land power. Bismarck maintained great authority in international affairs for two decades, developing a reputation for Realpolitik that raised Germany's global stature and influence. In France, it brought a final end to imperial rule and began the first lasting republican government. Resentment over France's defeat triggered the Paris Commune, a revolutionary uprising which seized and held power for two months before its bloody suppression; the event would influence the politics and policies of the Third Republic.

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