Terra – Flags of the League of Nations

When the League of Nations was founded in 1920, it did not have any flags or other official insignia. Various sections of the organization used different symbols in their activities. The question of a common flag was raised repeatedly, but any agreement on the issue was prevented by national government which feared the League would supersede their own power and authority.

Eventually, one design came to unofficially represent the League as a whole; two stars on a blue pentagram, symbolizing the five continents and the “five races of mankind”. In addition, the name of the organization was included in English and French.

League of Nations - Original Flag
League of Nations - Original Flag

The design was never overly popular, and never formally endorsed by the great assembly, but the flag was flown on all official occasions and used whenever the League had to be represented by a symbol. A simplified version was eventually adopted by the League assembly in 1938, when the flag was used during military action against the Japanese in Manchuria. The main symbol – the stars and pentagon – remained unchanged, but the League’s name was dropped.

League of Nations - Optimized Design.
League of Nations - Optimized Design.

The flag was again changed in 1953, during the height of the Russian War, also known as the World War. The change was minor; the blue pentagon was replaced by a circle; it was felt that this helped the star stand out. The symbolism was changed from “the five continents” to “one Earth”.

League of Nations - Russian War Flag
League of Nations - Russian War Flag

When the World War ended, the League of Nations quietly changed the flag again, mostly to disassociate it from the bloodshed of the war. As the League had gained preeminence in international affairs, it was decided that a break with the past was needed, without forgoing the symbolism. The stars were removed with five stars, which were arranged around the blue circle. The stars symbolized “the people” rather than the old-fashioned “five races”, while the circle continued to stand for the blue planet, Earth.

League of Nations - Post World War Flag
League of Nations - Post World War Flag

The circle-and-stars flag was flown for fifty years before it was felt that a final, more “modern” and “inspired” design was required. The circle was moved to the canton, and the stars continued to encircle it. The blue color was darkened for additional contrast. The symbolism of the new flag remains one world, uniting its people; but the main field of white gains dominance to symbolize the peace the League of Nations is tasked with keeping.

League of Nations - Final Flag in 21st Century
League of Nations - Final Flag in 21st Century

Related Posts:

Leave a Reply