District (Kreis) Arms of East Prussia

Heraldry of the German speaking countries
Marcus Karlsson
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District (Kreis) Arms of East Prussia

Postby Marcus Karlsson » 10 Apr 2013, 16:20

East Prussia was the most Easten Part of Germany until 1945. In the period after World War II the Districts (in German Landkreise or Kreise)of the Province started obtaining Arms like many other Districs in Germany. This following the relaxing of the rules that denied Arms for these units (in the Kingdom of Prussia to which East Prussia belonged for example stated that Districts where to use only the State Arms on thier Seals, only Cities where allowed Arms). Here are some examples of Arms of East Prussian District Arms I have found.

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Arms of the District of Samland. This was the Area bordering the Provincial Capital Königsberg, it was formed as late as 1 April 1939 from the former Districts of Fischhausen and Königsberg (Preussen) which wasn't incorporated into the City of Königsberg. It shows a Knight of the Teutonic Order representing the History of the Area. Picture from http://www.mitteleuropa.de/.

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Re: District (Kreis) Arms of East Prussia

Postby Marcus Karlsson » 10 Apr 2013, 16:23

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Arms of the District of Insterburg. Picture from http://www.paradeningken.de/. I have at present no further information on the Arms.

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Re: District (Kreis) Arms of East Prussia

Postby Marcus Karlsson » 10 Apr 2013, 16:30

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Seal with the Arms of the District of Lyck. Created in 1933 with the cooperation of the wellknown Heraldist Professor Otto Hupp. The upper part shows a Cross Argent on a field Sable and alludes to the so called Princely Jewellery of Skomanten found in 1929. It symbolises the heathen Tribes of the Sudauers, which finaly was defeated by the Teutonic Order in 1283. In base the Black Cross of the said Order on a field Argent. Picture from http://www.ggstanko.de/Kreis_Lyck/Siegel/siegel.html

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Chris Green
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Re: District (Kreis) Arms of East Prussia

Postby Chris Green » 11 Apr 2013, 08:30

The arms of Insterburg have a war hammer and a mace as charges, which suggests that the arms were designed in the 15th century when swords and axes were becoming less and less effective against improved armour. At first considered weapons suitable only for militia infantry and as secondary weapons for archers, they rapidly found favour amongst the knightly classes who, while they still considered the sword a more noble weapon, recognised that they needed weapons that were effective in a melee. Why the burghers of Insterburg should choose such weapons for their CoA one can only guess. Perhaps they manufactured them?
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Ryan Shuflin
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Re: District (Kreis) Arms of East Prussia

Postby Ryan Shuflin » 12 Apr 2013, 15:26

Chris Green wrote:The arms of Insterburg have a war hammer and a mace as charges, which suggests that the arms were designed in the 15th century when swords and axes were becoming less and less effective against improved armour. At first considered weapons suitable only for militia infantry and as secondary weapons for archers, they rapidly found favour amongst the knightly classes who, while they still considered the sword a more noble weapon, recognised that they needed weapons that were effective in a melee. Why the burghers of Insterburg should choose such weapons for their CoA one can only guess. Perhaps they manufactured them?


Both mace's and horsemen's picks have association with Eastern Europe. While the Mace is still used as a symbol of authority in the west, it appears to be much more common in the East serving a role similar to a marshal's baton. The Horseman's pick is a war hammer used by cavalry, and has a shorter handle, but it is hard to tell if this is suppose to represent a long-handled war hammer, but considering the location, it was probably a horseman's pick, like that used by the Polish Hussars.

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Re: District (Kreis) Arms of East Prussia

Postby Chris Green » 12 Apr 2013, 16:16

The terms war hammer and horseman's pick are interchangeable. A war hammer could however be long-handled specifically for use by infantry. In the CoA in question (assuming the two weapons to be in scale) we see the short-handled version. The mace, while stylised, does not appear to be a ceremonial mace (which would usually be larger).

Medieval type war hammer
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17th century Polish type war hammer (note that the hooked end is no longer suitable for striking armour but used to hook the opponent's clothing)
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Medieval type mace
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Marshal's Baton (Hanover 17th century)
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Ryan Shuflin
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Re: District (Kreis) Arms of East Prussia

Postby Ryan Shuflin » 15 Apr 2013, 13:04

This is heraldry, so things aren't that precise. If a longer war hammer was intended would they have shortened the mace to make them to scale. However, it does appear to have a handle. Also, this emblazonment depicts a flanged mace, which tells us little, because it could have been drawn from a blazon, and changed from the bulawa style that was used by hetman and Polish Marshal. Here is an image of the bulawa used by the Polish Marshal in lieu of a baton. As you can see it has a round head, not a flanged one. Image

However, Medieval flanged maces were also used in Eastern Europe and are said to originate there. I would be interested in seeing another emblazonment for Insterburg. However, I can't find any.

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Re: District (Kreis) Arms of East Prussia

Postby Marcus Karlsson » 21 Apr 2013, 11:49

Chris Green wrote:The arms of Insterburg have a war hammer and a mace as charges, which suggests that the arms were designed in the 15th century when swords and axes were becoming less and less effective against improved armour. At first considered weapons suitable only for militia infantry and as secondary weapons for archers, they rapidly found favour amongst the knightly classes who, while they still considered the sword a more noble weapon, recognised that they needed weapons that were effective in a melee. Why the burghers of Insterburg should choose such weapons for their CoA one can only guess. Perhaps they manufactured them?


Acctually these Arms where more likely to have been designed in the 1920ies/1930ies. Before wich Districts where not allowed Arms. At present I lack any further information. I continue with some new Arms:

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Arms of the District of Osterode, approved 5 December 1934. The Fir on the Mount symbolises Tannenberg the site of the World War I German Victory. The Battlefield is situated in the District. The Fleur-de-Lys are from the Arms of Gilgenburg and the Key (for St Peter) from the Arms of Hohenstein and the Cross from the Arms of the City of Osterode, these are the main Population centers of the District. The Arms was designed by Professor Otto Hupp, a wellknown heraldist of the time. Picture and inforamtion from http://www.powiat.ostroda.pl/de/

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Arms of the District of Allenstein.

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Variation of the Arms of the District of Allenstein.

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Chris Green
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Re: District (Kreis) Arms of East Prussia

Postby Chris Green » 21 Apr 2013, 12:19

Actually these Arms where more likely to have been designed in the 1920s/1930s.


Indisputably. There are many CoAs designed today that use historical weapons. The designer could still have used these particular items because there was once an arms industry in the area.
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Re: District (Kreis) Arms of East Prussia

Postby Marcus Karlsson » 21 Apr 2013, 12:37

Chris Green wrote:
Actually these Arms where more likely to have been designed in the 1920s/1930s.


Indisputably. There are many CoAs designed today that use historical weapons. The designer could still have used these particular items because there was once an arms industry in the area.


Of cause the Arms could symbolise an old Arms industry. I have to investigate the matter further to find out the "rationale" for the Arms.


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