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The schwarz-weiß-rot (black-white-red) German imperial flag was adopted by the North German Confederation in 1867, as a combination of the black-white of Prussia and the red-white of the Hanseatic League and/or of Brandenburg. In 1871 it was adopted as merchant flag for the German Empire, and in 1892 promoted to national flag. With the establishment of the German Empire in 1871, the black-white-red flag of the North German League was maintained, Art. 55 of the Imperial Constitution of 16 April 1871 has the same reading as that of the North German League: “Die Flagge der Kriegs- und Handelsmarine ist schwarz-weiß-rot” (the flag of the navy and merchant fleet is black-white-red). This flag was declared to be the national flag 8 November 1892 and continued in use until after the fall of the monarchy. During the National Assembly that established the Weimar Republic there was nearly as much support for continuing it as for establishing the black-red-gold flag which eventually was established by the adoption of the Constitution 11 August 1918 (in effect 14 August). The provision of the Flag Ordinance of 11 April 1921 however allowed the use of the old flags, presumably including this one, until the end of the year. In short one could regard the black-white-red flag to have been de facto replaced with the earliest use of the black-red-gold (or red) flags late in 1918, or by the Weimar Constitution (and first flag ordinance) in 1919 or by the final date of the Flag Ordinance of 1921. (It was readopted by the Nazi government in 1933, but again abolished by the flag law in 1935.)

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