Flags and Banners: The colours of the Austrian national flag are Red-White-Red; the colours were officially adopted in 1918 by the First Republic of Austria based on the flag (dating back to 1230) of the Babenberg dynasty.
After Austria was elevated to the status of a duchy in 1156, the Austrian flag included the Imperial Eagle which was replaced by the Austrian Striped Shield in 1230. The earliest depiction of an Austrian army flag dates back to the year 1254. The provincial coat of arms was displayed on each province's flag, soon afterward the flag for the entire Austrian territory carrying the striped escutcheon of Austria was recognised as the sole official flag of Austria. In 1433 a one-headed royal eagle, but mainly the Imperial Double Eagle ( Coat of Arms), the symbol of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, was added.
Ferdinand II integrated the picture of the Virgin Mary into the Austrian flag during the Thirty Years´ War. From that time the white flag of the Sovereign's personal regiment the Habsburgs (until 1915 the flag of the Imperial Regiment) carried the image of Mary on one side. The commanders of the remaining regiments decided on the appearance of the individual regimental flags. After 1745 the flag borders were flame-shaped in black-and-gold, and red-and-white. Once flags began to be made from painted silk, the size and weight of military flags was greatly diminished. For almost 100 years flags continued to be made in this fashion (painting the symbols on silk). The individual flag characteristics have since been expressed in banner ribbons; it has remained common practice up to the present day to write dedications on the ribbons.
Along with changes in Austrian rulers and Austrian territories came changes in the coat of arms and the design of the flag. It was not until the 19th century, when the Emperor´s initials were removed from the flag design, that the succession of the next ruler to the throne had no effect on the appearance of the flag. In 1804 the Austrian Empire adopted the coat of arms and the black-and-gold flag (black double eagle on a gold field) of the Holy Roman Empire. The Red-White-Red flag remained the flag of only the Austrian navy and the house colours of the Habsburg-Lothringen dynasty.
In 1805 the number of flags for each army battalion was reduced, after 1867 the battalion flags and the standards (with the exception of the 14th Dragoon Regiment) were abolished. Each infantry regiment had two flags; a white regiment flag and a yellow battalion flag for the reserve regiment. The Tirolean Kaiserjaeger, the Guards, the two military academies (the Theresianische Militaerakademie and the Technische Militaerakademie) and the main guard regiments in Vienna and Budapest also flew their own flags. The Landwehrakademie (academy for military reserves in the provinces) flew a flag which today are part of the tradition kept at the Wiener Neustadt academy, together with the flags of the two military academies and its own flag bestowed in 1934. In 1875 a new white-and-gold woven flag design with a coat of arms created by the painter L. Kupelwieser was introduced. This was the last flag flown by the army of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy.
In the army of the First Republic of Austria the Vienna Household Regiment (4th infantry regiment) flew a red-white-red flag with the official state coat of arms. Starting in 1925 the remaining infantry troops flew a flag with the state coat of arms on one side and the individual province's coat of arms on the other. In 1935 the image of the Virgin Mother was reintroduced. Flag designs of the provincial reserve troops of 1915 were also adopted when no traditional flag had been bestowed.
In the army of the Second Republic of Austria, the Vienna Guard still flies the flag of the former Body Guard Regiment. In accordance with tradition, each province bestows flags on the troops stationed there.
A flag (with the federal coat of arms) is raised over the office of the Austrian Federal President in the Hofburg in Vienna when Austria's head of state is occupying his/her offices. A flag is also flown in front of the Parliament building when the Nationalrat is in session.
The flags of the Bundeslaender (Austrian provinces) contain the colours of each provincial coat of arms.The flag for Burgenland was created after the establishment of the province; in Tyrol green-and-white flags are flown in addition to flags with the provincial colours.
Until 1828 unused flags were stored in armouries and at the "Economy Commission", after 1891 flags were kept primarily in churches, and in the newly formed Museum of Military History in Vienna. Almost all of Austria's larger municipalities have flags showing the colours of the coat of arms of the communities in the municipality. Since the 19th century it has been common for many associations to have flags as well.
Literature#A. Mell, Die Flaggen der oesterreichischen Soldaten im Wandel der Zeiten, 1962; T. Wise and G. Rosignoli, Flaggen und Standarten 1618-1900, 1978; D. Visser, Flaggen, Wappen, Hymnen, 1991; A. Polivka-Treuensee, Die Feldzeichen des oesterreichischen Bundesheeres, in: Truppendienst 5, 1975.