From January 30, 1933 to December 11, 1941, when Germany declared war on the United States, the U.S. government had diplomatic relations with Nazi Germany. Meeting in Nuremberg on September 15, 1935, the German government passed a law that made the swastika flag the national flag of Germany. This law (Reich Flag Law) was significant because it signaled the beginning of Nazi Germany’s official policy of segregating German Jews from the rest of the country’s population and denying them civil rights. On the same day, the Nazis passed two additional laws subsequently known as the Nuremberg Laws. These laws prohibited marriage and extramarital relations between Jews and Aryans (Germans of “pure blood”), barred German women from working in Jewish households, and forbade Jews from flying the swastika flag. Although many historians ignore the Reich Flag Law when writing about the Nuremberg Laws, the flag law can be considered an anti-Semitic law as well since the Nazis regarded the swastika as the preeminent symbol of their racist and nationalist movement which, according to the Nuremberg Laws, Jews should not be allowed to honor.1
In the following letter, U.S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull informs Governor David Sholtz of Florida that the German government has informed the United States that the swastika is Germany’s official and only national flag. Previously, Germany had two national flags, the swastika flag and a tricolor flag of black, white, and red stripes representing Germany’s old imperial past. By making the swastika Germany’s sole flag, the Nazis were making a symbolic proclamation that they alone represented Germany. From the date of Hull’s letter, Florida and all other states would henceforth have to recognize the swastika as Germany’s national flag and display it in any official functions involving the German government.
Department of State
September 27, 1935
In reply to
The Governor of Florida,
Having reference to my letters of March 19, 1934, an dAugust 29, 1935, describing the national colors of Germany and the manner of displaying the two flags, I now have the honor to inform you that a third note has been received from the German Ambassador at Washington in which he states that according to Article 2 of the law regarding the Reich flag, passed on September fifteenth, the national emblem of the German Reich is no longer the two flags but just the swastika flag alone.
It would be appreciated if this information could be brought to the attention of all under your jurisdiction who might be concerned therewith.
A similar communication is being addressed to the Governors of the other States of the Union.
I have the honor to be, Sir,
Your obedient servant,
Cordell Hull (signature)