As the two Germanys come together once more German-Americans in Baltimore are rallying around their flag.
Bill Barr, general manager of Flags, Banners and Pennants on Park Avenue, reported an upsurge of phone calls about German flags yesterday, just as the East German flag with its emblem of two compasses and a hammer was lowered from flag poles in Berlin, where it had waved since 1959. Now the simple black, red and gold striped flag that has represented West Germany since 1949 will ripple across the reunited nation.
"We've had some calls about German flags . . . I think it's mostly price-shopping right now," says Barr. He sells a three-by-five-foot nylon German flag for $19.95, the going rate for most national flags. He has six German flags in stock and does not expect to be sold out.
"The Germans just don't go crazy for flags like the Lithuanians,says Barr. Last May, when Lithuania declared its independence from the Soviet Union, Barr weathered a "massive surge" in requests for flags. There were also requests for the old, imperial Russian flag that was used before communism.
Last week an East German immigrant, heading back to the olcountry from the United States, came into Flags, Banners and Pennants to buy mini-sized flags for his relatives. Barr says the man chose American, West German and Soviet flags, but no East German flags. These Barr sells for $1.30, the same price as other mini-sized flags meant to sit on the desk. There is little interest here in East German flags, so Barr stocks only the miniature size. No one has called to request a full-sized East German flag yet, which would cost slightly more than a West German flag due to the intricate design in its center.
With the demise of East Germany, could both East and West German flags become a hot commodity and drive up prices?
"There's no chance of the West German price going up because it's a very, very simple flag to do," says Barr. And he doesn't anticipate a sudden change in East German flag prices because manufacturers still have a good supply.