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White flag

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This article is about white flags. For other uses, see White flag (disambiguation).

German troops after surrendering to the U.S. Third Army carry the white flag (WW2 photo).

German troops after surrendering to the U.S. Third Army carry the white flag (WW2 photo).

Graphical representation of the white flag

Graphical representation of the white flag

White flags have had different meanings throughout history and depending on the locale.

The white flag is an internationally recognized protective sign of truce or ceasefire, and request for negotiation. It is also used to symbolise surrender, since it is often the weaker military party which requests negotiation. A white flag signifies to all that an approaching negotiator is unarmed, with an intent to surrender or a desire to communicate. Persons carrying or waving a white flag are not to be fired upon, nor are they allowed to open fire. The use of the flag to surrender is included in the Geneva Conventions.

The improper use of a white flag is forbidden by the rules of war and constitutes a war crime of perfidy. There have been numerous reported cases of such behaviour in conflicts, such as fighters using white flags as a ruse to approach and attack enemies, or killings of fighters attempting to surrender by carrying white flags.

Many times since the weaker party is in a decrepit state, a white flag would be fashioned out of anything readily available, like a t-shirt or handkerchief. The most common way of making a white flag is to obtain a pole and tie two corners of a sheet of cloth to the top of the pole and somewhere in the middle.



* 1 Origin

* 2 Umayyad dynasty

* 3 Ancien Régime in France

* 4 Racing

* 5 Buddhist-Confucian countries

* 6 Taliban Afghanistan

* 7 Minamoto clan

* 8 Use in fiction

* 9 See also

[edit] Origin

The first mention of the usage of white flags to surrender is made during from the Eastern Han dynasty (A.D 25–220). In the Roman Empire, the historian Cornelius Tacitus mentions a white flag of surrender in A.D. 109. Before that time, Roman armies would surrender by holding their shields above their heads. The usage of the white flag has since spread worldwide.

[edit] Umayyad dynasty

The Umayyad dynasty ruled for ninety years (661–750) over the Islamic world, using white as their symbolic color as a reminder of Muhammad's first battle at Badr, and to distinguish themselves from the Abbasids, by using white, rather than black, as their color of mourning. White is one of the pan-Arab colors because of that period.

[edit] Ancien Régime in France

During the period of the Ancien Régime, in the 18th century, the royal standard of France became a plain white flag, sometimes covered in fleur-de-lis or bearing the ensigns of the Order of the Holy Spirit. The white color was also used as a symbol of military command, by the commanding officer of a French army.

After the French Revolution, in 1794, the Tricolor was adopted as the official flag of France The white flag quickly became a symbol of French royalists. During the Bourbon Restoration period in France, it replaced the Tricolor, seen as a symbol of regicide. The French troops fighting in the American War of Independence fought under the white flag. It was finally abandoned in 1830, with the July Revolution.

In 1873, an attempt to reestablish the monarchy failed because of the refusal of Henri, comte de Chambord to accept the Tricolor. He demanded the return of the white flag before he would accept the throne.

[edit] Racing

A white racing flag is displayed from the starter's tower indicates that the race leader is running his/her final lap. In FIA sanctioned races, a white flag warns of a slow car ahead.

[edit] Buddhist-Confucian countries

In Buddhist countries, white is the colour of mourning, so a white flag is used where other cultures might fly a black flag.

[edit] Taliban Afghanistan

During the Afghanistan civil war, the flag used by the Taliban was a plain white flag. When they took over Kabul in 1996, and established the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, it became the national flag of the country, representing "the purity of their faith and government". After 1997, the Taliban added the Shahadah to the flag.

[edit] Minamoto clan

During the Genpei War (1180–1185), the Minamoto clan fought under a white flag while the Taira clan fought under a red flag. As successive shogunates were from Minamoto clan, this usage continued to the end of Tokugawa shogunate on 1868 when the current international usage was adopted.

[edit] Use in fiction

An unadorned white flag was the standard of the Stewards of Gondor in the Middle-earth legendarium of author J.R.R. Tolkien.

In the novel and 1953 film The War of the Worlds, three men wave a white flag while trying to make first contact with the Martians. They are then incinerated by the Martians' Heat-Ray.

yo spellbinder are you drunk again

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Ok lots of nice facts there! This is what i was after "The white flag is an internationally recognized protective sign of truce or ceasefire, and request for negotiation. It is also used to symbolise surrender" That white flag that is. The surrender flag. Also i was thinking about the Iraq war right now. Do they really know they can use a white flag? But i guess i got my answer since it seems to be a Arabic invention. One question left though.

Quote! "And the first time some one used it how did the opposite force knew that it meant what it meant?"

But maybe we never get that question answered. And thx Pericolos0 i never knew it was so easy as to go to wikipedia. And drunk? I dunno, it's hugely overated my drinking, i dont drink that often. But today i am :þ. 1st time in 3 weeks or some.

Thx for the congrats e-freak ;)

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