Hitler’s bloody swastika

The Blutfahne or Blood Flag was one of the most sacred relics of nazi Germany. Originally the banner of the fifth Sturm of the Munich SA, it was soaked with the blood of the fallen when the Munich Putsch (“Beer Hall Putsch”) was crushed in November 1923. The blood was primarily from party member Andreas Bauriedl who was shot by Munich police and then fall on top of the flag.Restored to Adolf Hitler upon his release from Landsberg prison in 1925, the Blutfahne quickly became the centrepiece of Nazi  ceremonies. One  story about what happened to the flag after the putsch says that Heinrich Trambauer (the flagbearer) took the flag to a friend where he removed the flag from the staff and then kept it hidden. Later, Traumbauer gave the flag to a Karl Eggers, who kept the flag safe. The other story was that the flag was confiscated by the Munich authorities and was later returned to the Nazis. It was not only presented at all major Nazi events, its touch was also used to “sanctify” other Nazi flags and standards, and to seal the oath of newly conscripted SS men.

The illustration of Hitler with the Blutfahne

The flag was considered so important to the Nazis that it was accorded its  own attendant – an SS Sturmbannführer by the name of Jakob Grimminger – and was kept at the Nazi Headquarter (the Brown House) in Munich when it was not in use.

Hitler used the Blutfahne to bless flags and standards

The current whereabouts of the Blutfahne – which was last seen in public in October 1944 – are unknown. The Blutfahne was last seen in public at the Induction Ceremony of the Volkssturm on 18 October 1944 (not at Gauleiter Adolf Wagner’s funeral six months earlier, as has frequently been reported). It is, of course, possible that it has survived, perhaps folded up in a suburban American attic, having been unwittingly looted by a GI in 1945 and since forgotten.

Jakob Grimminger and Adolf Hitler

But it is most likely that it was destroyed when the Nazi Headquarter was flattened in an Allied air raid in January 1945, or that it subsequently disappeared in the chaos of postwar Germany.