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German Life-Saving Society (Germany)

Deutsche Lebens-Rettungs-Gesellschaft e.V. / DLRG

Last modified: 2021-02-20 by klaus-michael schneider
Keywords: deutsche lebens-rettungs-gesellschaft | dlrg | deutsche lebensrettungs-gemeinschaft | eagle |
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[German life-saving society 2004 flag] 3:5 image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 14 Feb 2021 See also:

Introduction of German Life-Saving Society

Here is some info on the flag of the "Deutsche Lebens-Rettungs-Gesellschaft e.V.", the non-profit German Life Saving Society.
Website with "watchful eagle" logo in the upper right hand corner: This logo is used on white flags. (also used together with red-yellow beach flags.)

Founded in 1913, the DLRG is the largest voluntary life-saving society in the world and a member of the ILS (International Life-Saving Federation). Total membership being 850,000, this number includes more than 51,000 life-savers organized in about 2,200 local branches; in 2004 there were 692 people saved from drowning.
Jan Mertens, 29 June 2005

Brief History

On 28 July 1912 a wooden pier at the seaside in Binz/Rügen broke down. 17 persons drowned and even more were injured. To avoid such accidents in the future, the "Deutsche Lebensrettungs Gesellschaft e.V." (abbrev.: DLRG/ German Lifesaving Society) was founded on 19 Oct 1913 in Leipzig. In the end of that year the society had 435 members. The seat of the organisation is Bad Nenndorf near Hannover.
In 2018 the society had more than 565,000 members (45,000 of those are active members, i.e. lifeguards, teachers in swimming, instructors in water rescueing, the others are mere supporting members). All members are working honorary except the general secretary, who is an employee of the society and further 93 persons of payed staff. In 2004 e.g. estimated 51,000 lifeguards worked for more than 2,000,000 hours in baywatching. The society is divided into 18 state associations (Landesverbände, abbrev: LV) and subdivided into county associations in counties and county-free cities (Bezirke, in Bayern Kreisverbände) and more than 2,200 local associations and furthermore basic groups (Ortsgruppen bzw. Stützpunkte / in Bayern called Ortsverbände). There had been 19 state associations before, but on 1 January 2007 the organisations of Niedersachsen and Braunschweig merged.
In 1938 the society was forced to join the NSDAP as a civic party-organisation. Though the society tried to keep its independence, it was in 1938 renamed to Deutsche Lebensrettungs Gemeinschaft (abbrev.: D.L.R.G./ German Lifesaving Community) on the national congress, which took place 1938 in Jena. The organisation had 27 state associations by then.
After WW2 the organisation was forbidden at first, but in 1948 the organisation was allowed to work in the Bizone (Zones occupied by the USA and Great Britain). On 1 June 1947 the society was founded again by 7 state associations and was renamed back toto Deutsche Lebensrettungs Gesellschaft. In the Soviet Occupation Zone the DLRG remained forbidden and was replaced by a Wasserrettungsdienst (abbrev: WRD/ water rescue service) as a department of the German Red Cross in the DDR.
In 1950 there were 11 state organisations and in May 1957 the Saarländische Lebensrettungs Gesellschaft (SLRG) joined the DLRG as "Landesverband Saar". Up to 1989 the society had 15 state organisations. After the German reunion until 1991 there werde founded state organisations also in the new states of the Federal Republic of Germany.
In case of dissolution of the society the Deutsche Gesellschaft zur Rettung Schiffbrüchiger (abbrev: DGzRS) will be heir of the society and the society will bequeath all its assets and liabilities to the DGzRS.
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 25 Sep 2005


DLRG Flags

As far as I know, the DLRG always used a flag with its badge on a plain white cloth. The design of the badge might have changed various times.
Between 1938 and 1948 only the word "Gesellschaft" was replaced by the word "Gemeinschaft". It may be, that between 1938 and 1945 a swastika was added in the middle of the bottom end of the badge. This was very common in those days but it could not be proven, because showing symbols of the NSDAP is a subject of prosecution by federal German laws.
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 25 Sep 2005

DLRG Flag since 2001

In 2001 the DLRG Federal Congress (Bundestagung) introduced a corporate identity. The congress meets every fourth year and consists of the executive committee (Präsidium) and delegates of the state associations. Among others the pattern of the current flag was fixed. A white eagle with white beak and white claws is overlooking a blue sea from a white rock. The eagle is dexter facing and simplified in comparison with the former pattern. On the edge of the sea there are blue initials "DLRG". The flag is hoisted on every place, where lifeguards are on duty.
Source: German WIKIPEDIA
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 25 Sep 2005

DLRG Jugend Flag since 2001

[German life-saving youth (Germany)] 3:5 image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 14 Feb 2021

The DLRG youth section has a separate flag, basically white plus eagle from logo plus white DLRG initials in blue rectangle plus "Jugend" (youth) in red written script, see German WIKIPEDIA. The organisation was established on 3 June 1962.
Jan Mertens, 29 June 2005

DLRG Flag until 2001

[German life-saving society until 2001(Germany)] 3:5 image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 14 Feb 2021

The former pattern displayed a white eagle with white beak and white claws overlooking a blue sea with waves in it from a green rock. The eagle was dexter facing. On the edge of the sea there were green initials "DLRG".
Source: I spotted this flag in August 1977 at Holnis Beach.
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 25 Sep 2005

DLRG pre WW2 Flag

[German life-saving society pre WW2 (Germany)] 3:5 image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 14 Feb 2021

The older pattern displayed a black eagle overlooking a sea of blue and white horizontal lines from a green rock. The eagle was dexter facing. On the edge of the sea there were green initials "DLRG".
Source: this NDR documentation
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 14 Feb 2021

DLRG Local Association Flag (Ortsgruppe)

[German life-saving local association (Germany)] 3:5 image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 14 Feb 2021

The pattern is the same like that one of the main flag, but the name of the local association (Ortsgruppe) is written below in black initials. Most local associations use the ordinary flag (image shows pre 2001 flag of OG Lauenau).
Source: this online newspaper
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 14 Feb 2021


DLRG Pennants and Jacks

Blue DLRG Jack

[German life-saving local association (Germany)] image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 14 Feb 2021

The rectangular pennant was blue with a white eagle, standing on the "R" of the white inscription "DLRG" in base. The pennant was probably abolished in the early 1970ies, as it was no longer suitable for the new kinds of boats.
Source: this NDR documentation
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 14 Feb 2021

DLRG triangular Boat Pennant

[German life-saving local association (Germany)] 3:5 image by Klaus-Michael Schneider and Ivan Sache, 14 Feb 2021

The pattern of the triangular pennant is the same like that one of the main flag.
Source: I spotted this pennant on 14 August 2012 in the harbour of Tönning.
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 14 Feb 2021

DLRG triangular Boat Pennant of County Association

[German life-saving sociiety county association pennant (Germany)] 3:5 image by Klaus-Michael Schneider and Ivan Sache, 14 Feb 2021 The pattern of the triangular pennant is the same like that one of the pre-2001 main flag. The word "Bezirk" and below the name of the county organisation in black letters are in the canton (image shows pre 2001 flag of Bezirk Bonn)
Source: ebay-kleinanzeigen.de/s-anzeige/vereinswimpel-fahne-flagge-dlrg/652399294-234-1662
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 14 Feb 2021


German Lifesaving Community / D.L.R.G. (1938 - 1945)

National emblems or symbols of the party (added: NSDAP) never have incroached the configuration of the flag. (...). A collection of Prof. Dr. Harald Jatzke clarifies, when and where the symbols of the DLRG were changed between 1938 and 1945. Obvious is the renaming from "society" (German: Gesellschaft) to "community" (German: Gemeinschaft). Everywhere, where the full name of the organisation appears, this change is re-enacted. Mostly just the abbreviation "DLRG" was in use, and thus the change nearly never became visible, e.g.. in the organisations badges, only as part of the full name, if it had been displayed. There is just one example, where the swastika became a part of the actual symbols of the organisation, depicted in an advertising brochure from 1938. Later the connection of eagle and swastika never appeared again.
The organisation can't exculpate itself, never having anything to do with the NS-symbols, especially as it had been led by active national socialists, e.g. Franz Breithaupt (1880 - 1945). Parts of NS-ideology were adopted, but in its core business the organisation remained very successful and basically kept its proper symbols.
Ludger Schulte-Hülsmann, 30 Jan 2021

D.L.R.G. Flag

[German life-saving community (Germany)] 3:5 image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 14 Feb 2021

The pattern is similar to that one of the pre WW2 flag above, but the black eagle had a different shape, and the sea is plain blue without stripes.
Source: here
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 14 Feb 2021

D.L.R.G. Logo

[German life-saving community logo (Germany)] 3:5 image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 14 Feb 2021

This image is the only one, displaying a swastika under the claws of the eagle in a 5-fold scroll charged with the four letters of the DLRG without (!) dots.
Source: image provided by Ludger Schulte-Hülsmann, secretary general of the DLRG
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 14 Feb 2021


Saarland Life-Saving Society - Saarländische Lebensrettungsgesellschaft / SLRG

The badge of the Saarländische Lebensrettungsgesellschaft was nearly the same. The word "Deutsche" was of course replaced by "Saarländische". and the letters "DLRG" by "SLRG". It is however not known, whether the SLRG used different colours.
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 25 Sep 2005


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