Former London Mayor, Ken Livingstone was quoted in this tweet as saying:

in 1935 Hitler passed a law that said that only two flags could be flown in Germany: the swastika and the Zionist banner. This is not something I'm 'claiming;' this is not just one book.

A similarly worded claim reported in the Guardian to be by Livingstone:

Speaking to the Guardian on Friday, Livingstone praised Lenni Brenner, the author of Zionism in the Age of the Dictators, and said the book was full of details that he would cite in his defence.

“All the detail is in there. The striking thing that does confirm there was an ongoing dialogue between the Zionists and Nazi government is, in 1935 Hitler passed a law banning any flag being displayed except the swastika and the blue and white Zionist flag, which is pretty amazing.”

He added of Brenner’s book: “It confirms there was clearly an ongoing dialogue, even if the Israeli government now tries to pretend that none of that all happened.”

In 1935, did Nazi Germany pass a law banning any flag other than Nazi Germany flags and the blue and white flag used for present-day Israel?

The Wikipedia article Flag of Israel has a section on it being referenced in the Nuremberg Laws, which were passed in 1935.

Paragraph 4 in "The Laws for the Protection of German Blood and German Honour", part of the infamous Nazi Nuremberg Laws of 1935, states that 1. "Jews are forbidden to display the Reich and national flag or the [German] national colours. 2. On the other hand, they are permitted to display the Jewish colours. The exercise of this right is protected by the State." Paragraph 5.3 described the penalty for infringing "1": up to one year's imprisonment plus fine, or one of these.[31] The "Jewish colours" referred to in this article were blue and white.[32]

Wikipedia's article on the Nuremberg laws also concurs.

However, while that law does make mention of Jews being forbidden from flying German flags, and Jews being legally allowed (at least in theory) to fly "Jewish colours", it doesn't make any mention of Jews being banned from flying the flags of other countries, or flags that aren't associated with countries (such as the pride flag, except it didn't exist at that time), nor does it say what flags non-Jews can or cannot fly.

Related question: Did Hitler support zionism?

  • 20
    Implying that allowing the Jewish flag equalled supporting their cause, when in fact it was clearly part of a program to single them out for persecution, is what is offensive about Livingstone's claim. Whether or not other flags were allowed doesn't really change that point. Though it is an interesting question nonetheless.
    – user11522
    May 9, 2016 at 11:22
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    Yeah, and only Jews were allowed to wear yellow star-shaped badges on their clothes!
    – Benjol
    May 10, 2016 at 9:21
  • 1
    Seems like this was the lawmakers' way of symbolically saying "Jews are not German" (or one more way; the Nuremberg laws also explicitly stripped Jews of citizenship). To claim that this "confirms a dialogue" with Zionists is utterly ridiculous. (Also, the claim is not even technically true. The law only banned Jews from using the German flag, it did not say anything about anyone using non-German flags.)
    – Tgr
    Mar 17, 2018 at 18:53

1 Answer 1



in 1935 Hitler passed a law banning any flag being displayed except the swastika and the blue and white Zionist flag, which is pretty amazing

This is obviously false. There was never a time in Germany where only two flags where allowed. Wikipedia has a list of official flags used in Germany between 1933 and 1945, which were of course legal at the time, and a number of them neither contain the swastika, nor are blue and white (for example the flag of the SS).

Where the claim comes from

The book Livingstone referenced is "Zionism in the Age of the Dictators" by Lenni Brenner. The relevant part is this:

One aspect of [the nuremberg laws], now long forgotten but which attracted considerable attention at the time, was the fact that from then on only two flags were to be permitted in the Third Reich, the swastika and the blue-and-white Zionist banner.

Brenner attributes the claim to Stephen Wise, whom he quotes:

Therefore Zionism became the only other party legalized in the Reich, the Zionist flag the only other flag permitted to fly in Nazi-land. It was a painful distinction for Zionism to be singled out for favors and privileges by its Satanic counterpart.

This means that the Nuremberg Laws are indeed meant. There are only two parts of them concerning flags. The one you reference, which forbids Jews from using the Reichsfarben, and which allows them to use "jüdische Farben" and the Reichsflaggengesetz, which mainly defines the official flag of Germany, but which does not forbid any flags.

  • almost all of the non-swastika flags on that page you refer to were dscontinued in 1935 - when the law in question was passed.
    – user2276
    May 10, 2016 at 5:57
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    @HorusKol True, but the question really isn't about "almost", so one counter-example would be enough. Also,the flags where not forbidden by the law, but simply discontinued.
    – tim
    May 10, 2016 at 6:33

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