The Blutfahne or ‘Blood Flag’ was one of the most sacred relics of Nazi Germany. Originally the banner of the fifth Sturm of the Munich SA, it was soaked with the blood of the fallen when the Munich Putsch was crushed in November 1923.
Restored to Adolf Hitler upon his release from prison in 1925, the Blutfahne quickly became the centrepiece of Nazi ceremonies. It was not only presented at all major Nazi events, its touch was also used to ‘sanctify’ other Nazi flags and standards, and to seal the oath of newly conscripted SS men.
The flag was considered so important to the Nazis that it was accorded its own attendant – an SS Sturmbannführer by the name of Jakob Grimminger – and was kept at the Nazi HQ in Munich when it was not in use.
The current whereabouts of the Blutfahne – which was last seen in public in October 1944 – are unknown. It is, of course, possible that it has survived, perhaps folded up in a suburban American attic, having been unwittingly looted by a GI in 1945 and since forgotten. But it is most likely that it was destroyed when the Nazi HQ was flattened in an Allied air raid in January 1945, or that it subsequently disappeared in the chaos of postwar Germany.
Answered by: Roger Moorhouse, author of Killing Hitler (Vintage, 2007)