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Flag Survival and Evolution in the Changing Political World

        The evolution of the flags of the General German Automobile Club (ADAC) provides an excellent example of how political change and turmoil can effect the designs and evolution of flags.

General German Automobile Club
(ADAC - Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil Club)
by Klaus-Michael Schneider and Peter Loeser

        In 1899, Germany's oldest automobile club, the Automobile Club of Germany (AvD - Automobilclub von Deutschland) was founded. In 1903, a rival automobile club, called the German Motorbiker Association (DMV - Deutsche Motorradfahrer-Vereinigung) was founded, and renamed the General German Automobile Club (ADAC - Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil-Club) in 1911.

Image by Klaus-Michael Schneider
The General German Automobile Club Pennant in the 1920s

        The first reported flag of the ADAC was a white triangular pennant divided by a red Scandinavian cross outlined in yellow and black, the Wiemar Republic national colors, which was shifted to the hoist. The cross is superimposed by a ADAC logo. The logo had a black eagle surrounded by the black Gothic letters "ADAC" in a white disc.

Image by Klaus-Michael Schneider
Image by Klaus-Michael Schneider
General German Automobile Club - Yacht Club Pennant
General German Automobile Club - Yacht Club Pennant (variant)

        The ADAC also maintained a yacht club that used a modified version of the General German Automobile Club pennant. Its design seems to be the predecessor of the post World War II yacht club pennants. This division of the ADAC no longer exists today.

Image modified by Pete Loeser from image by Klaus-Michael Schneider
The General German Automobile Club Pennantin the early 1930s

        The ADAC remained active between the World Wars and continued to grow in importance eventually affecting national legislation. In 1927, at the recommendation of the ADAC, the Weimar Republic government introduced unique traffic signs in all German states.

        With the rise of the National Socialist German Workers Party to power in the early 1930s, the transformation of the ADAC provides us with one of the best illustrations of how traditional institutions survive political upheaval. Forced to conform to the new order, the flags they use to identify themselves were changed, and the club was forced to change completely their business model.

        In 1933, the National Socialist Motor Corps (NS-Kraftfahrerkorps) was placed in charge of all drivers affairs in Germany. In September the automobile clubs - ADAC, AvD, DTC (German Touring Car Club) and others - were forced by National Socialist government to merge. They all became the German Automobile Club (DDAC - Der Deutsche Automobil Club).

Image by Klaus-Michael Schneider
The German Automobile Club Pennant 1933-1945

        During the National Socialist regime a white triangular pennant divided by the red cross trimmed in white and black was used, which is shifted to the hoist. The cross was superimposed by a modified club logo. In a white oval colored black-white-black there is a black eagle holding in his white claws a red wreath with a black swastika. Upon the eagle's breast are the white dotted letters "DDAC."

        In 1945, immediately after the demise of the Nazi regime, the ADAC attempted to re-established themselves, but was temporarily forbidden by the Allied Occupational Government. The next year, however, in 1946, the club was again started, at first just in Bavaria, but later in the complete American occupation zone; followed in 1947 in British zone, and finally in 1949 in the French zone.

Image by Klaus-Michael Schneider
General German Automobile Club
Current banner
Image by Klaus-Michael Schneider
General German Automobile Club 1960

        Today the ADAC uses a plan yellow flag with the club logo in its center. The logo once again shows a black eagle surrounded by black Gothic capitals "ADAC" in a white disc, although the background is now yellow-gold.
        Since 1946, the number of members increased continuously up to more than 20,000 members in 1953, to 1,000,000 members in 1965 and to more than 10,000,000 members in 1990. Today, the ADAC is Germany's and Europe's largest automobile and motorcyclist association, with more than 17 million members. It offers members services similar to those of the American Automobile Association (AAA), including emergency road services vehicles called the Straßenwacht (yellow angels) which began in 1954.
        In 1970, a ADAC helicopter air rescue service was established by the club working together with the fire brigades and the armed forces. In 1990, the club supported the foundation of ADAC-Ost in the German Democratic Republik and in October both ADAC clubs in Germany merged due to the reunion of both states.

        Also sometimes displayed by the club is a plain yellow banner with a ratio approximately 2:1. At the top edge is an inscription in black capitals "ADAC," and beneath the inscription is a grey eagle. The name of the regional subdivisions are often added below the eagle in black capital letters.

Other Automobile Clubs mentioned in the Article

Image from AvD website
Image from FOTW website
Image from AAA website
Automobile Club of Germany 1899
(AvD - Automobilclub von Deutschland)
German Touring Car Club c1930s
(DTC - Deutsche Touring Club)
American Automobile Association 1905
(AAA - pronounced "Triple A")


(1) ADAC: Highlights of the club history -
(2) Wikipedia -
(3) Images drawn by Klaus-Michael Schneider.

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