Balkenkreuz: why the Germans are the emblem of his army did cross Nicholas

History of 24/03/20 Balkenkreuz: why the Germans are the emblem of his army did cross Nicholas

During the Second World war, became the emblem of the German armed forces of balkenkreuz or black cross on a white background, has deep historical roots. This symbol is a stylization of two distinctive signs of the cross St. Nicholas, and the cross of the Teutonic spiritual knightly orders.


the Word “balkenkreuz” translated from German means “beam cross”, and not “Balkan cross”, as erroneously suggested by many ordinary people. Root “balken” means beam, the beam or wooden beam, of the addition, which, in fact, there is a cross.

for the First time the symbol of balkenkreuz was used in the German army in April 1918 in the Imperial air force. Discreet and simple black equilateral cross has replaced the previously used identification mark in the form of a gripping of a cross, repeating the shape of the main military award of the country – the “Iron cross.”

Balkenkreuz in the Luftwaffe

After the defeat in the First World war and the ensuing demilitarization of Germany, the wood-beamed cross was resumed only in 1935 when it was organized by the Nazi Luftwaffe.

Initially, in a proportion, the width of black bars were 1/4 their scale, and the white edging around them was width in 1/20 scale, but later the ratio changed.

In this historical period was used two variations of balkenkreuze, which was applied to different parts of the fuselage. The first was a cross with narrow white edges, which is depicted on the upper planes aircraft wings. At the same time, on their lower surfaces and on the airframe adorned the crosses with a wider white outline.

In 1936, for greater clarity around the white edging of the cross began to put more and blackth, which was 1/30 of the length of the rungs.

at the end of the Second World war balkenkreuz, for better disguise, were depicted without black core, and the cross formed of four rectangular borders.

Balkenkreuz in Panzerwaffe

By the end of the Polish operation 1935 of balkenkreuz took his place and in the case of the German armored cars, becoming to the end of the war the main identification mark not only Panzerwaffe, but the entire Third Reich. However, in order to disguise it repeatedly underwent changes in appearance: modified the width of the main cross and edging, as well as going on color inversion in which the inner boundary of the character was white and the outer black.

In the end, the end of the war of balkenkreuz lost a black core, and the visibility of the cross was formed exclusively rectangular corners of the edging, which could be both white and dark.

the Cross of the Teutonic spiritually-knightly order

But the Nazis were not the first one as its emblem chose a black equilateral cross on a white background. Long before them, this identification symbol used to identify the Teutonic religious order, founded on 19 November 1190 year.

Members of this medieval enterprises were German knights who participated in the third crusade. The official version of their religious paramilitary attacks on the Muslims of Palestine was the liberation of their hands Christian shrines – Jerusalem.

However, the true reason for this geopolitical game reveals doctrine, sounding like: “drive towards the East”. Its author is the king of Germany and Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa, who headed the German troops in the crusade to the Holy land, as a result of which arose the Teutonic order.

It is this motto that won the heart of Hitler considering himself a successor of the Teutonic knights, decided to conquer the Eastern territory. In addition to the slogan of the Nazis borrowed from the Teutonsant and the black cross, which adorned in their white cloaks and shields.

the Cross of St. Nicholas

the vintage images dedicated to Saint Nicholas, in the garb of the Holy is present widespread in the Orthodox symbolism, iconography and heraldry, the image hovering equilateral cross, protivogistaminnye placed between rectangular brackets. This religious motive was interpreted as the addition to the symbolic meaning of the cross is inscribed with the semantic meaning “edge to edge” or “limit to the limit”.

in addition, the graphic symbol of St. Nicholas was one of the varieties of balkenkreuz with flared ends. It is in the centre of this so-called gripping cross decided to put Peter Vrangel, the image of the Saint, when, on 17 April 1920, established to honor distinguished in the battles of the whites, the highest military order for military merit – the Order of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker.

in Addition to the traditional gripping the cross can be seen on the family (dynastic) the order of the Imperial House of Romanov in exile, the full name of which reads: “Imperial Military Order Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker”. This award was approved on 19 July 1929 cousin shot Emperor Nicholas II – Kirill Vladimirovich Romanov, who after the death of a relative, Tsarevich Alexei and Grand Prince Mikhail Alexandrovich was the eldest in the inheritance of the deposed Russian throne.

basically, this distinctive sign mentioned those Russian veterans of the First World war, who are staying outside the country, recognized Kirill Romanov Russian Emperor in exile, which he declared himself under the name of Cyril I.

this odious figures, whose antics did not just throw a shadow on the reputation of the Imperial family, in the 1920-ies showed a connection with the Nazi party of Adolf Hitler. Settling in the German city of Coburg, Kirill Vladimirovich with his wife has donated an impressive withUmmah to support the Nazi party. Financial intermediary to make a charitable investment couple of the Romanovs first was Max Erwin von Heubner Richter, and then General Vasily Biskupsky.

You could certainly assume that thanks to Romanov for financial support, Hitler ordered to portray the military equipment of the Wehrmacht crosses of St. Nicholas. However, it is known that the use of this symbol in the German army began during the First World war, and he personifies the continuity of Germany, from the Teutonic knightly religious order.

Ashkhen Avanesova

© Russian Seven

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