Collection of Military Flags
The biggest and most valuable collection of flags is being kept in Military Museum. Since the foundation in 1878, according to Regulations from 1879 and by command of military authorities, war flags from Liberation Wars 1876-1878 were among first objects given to Museum. When the first Permanent Display was opened in 1904, Museum already had 232 flags. Unfortunately this collection was devastated in First World War. Thanks to reparation committee, part of the collection was retrieved from Pest in 1920. In the period of Museum renovating, from Thessalonica Front in 1917 until reopening in 1937, large number of flags were collected again. Some of them were from collections of National Museum (1928), from Royal Court and from Museum from Ally countries. The role in collecting and preserving flags of National Museum was very big since its foundation in 1844, especially during the Second World War.
Flag, a symbol long known on these territories is being preserved with greatest care. Considering the fabric that they were made of, it was really hard to preserve flags made in Medieval Serbia. The oldest ones are from period of the First Serbian Uprising. There are flags and banners from uprisings, liberation wars of Serbian people during 19th century, several court banners and memorial flags, allied flags, volunteer flags and of course some enemy ones, captured in battles. There are also several Turkish flags purchased in 1930’s. Most numerous are Serbian regimental flags. Out of 51 made, 47 of them are preserved and one of them is in Paris. These flags were in all battles of both Balkan Wars and in First World War too.
Many of old flags are real pieces of art, made by famous painters, They were made of canvas, rep, brocade, sometimes of silk, with various heraldic signs, motifs of famous events, portraits of saints on them and in various technique: painted or embroidered. Colors of flags from Uprisings are also various, especially until 1809, when unique Regular Army flags were introduced. Until then, hajduk and church flags were used. Several of them are preserved, one from the beginning of the First Serbian Uprising. Unfortunately most of flags from 19th century are not preserved. There are documents that witness about their departure to Military Museum and aquarelles displaying them. However there are several flags preserved from period of Serbian-Turkish Wars 1876-1878. Many of flags are saved because they were properly conserved; some of them were in little pieces. So today we have two very valuable Cossack flags made in memory of Russian-Turkish War 1828-1829.
Beside the old ones, collection also has flags from 20th century. Some of them are from Kingdom of Yugoslavia, but majority are of Partisan Units of People’s Liberation Army of Yugoslavia, later Yugoslav Army. Most valuable of them are flags of Proletarian brigades, divisions, corpuses and battalions. There are also several flags of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. Flags of Yugoslav People’s Army, that were assigned from 1954, have distinct ideological marks.
Curator of the Collection - Anđelija Radović