Cover Osteuropa 10-11/2020

In Osteuropa 10-11/2020

The white-red-white nation
A brief history of Belarusian state symbols

Uladzimir Lachouski

Deutsche Fassung


The protest movement in Belarus has chosen two historical national images as its symbols: the Pahonia coat of arms showing a knight on horseback, which was originally used for the Great Duchy of Lithuania, and the white-red-white flag of the short-lived Belarusian People’s Republic. Both are symbols of a troubled past. In the Soviet Union, they were forbidden as representations of a national, anti-communist desire for independence. Even today, they still have abhorrent associations with the parts of the Belarusian national movement that collaborated with the National Socialist occupiers during the Second World War. In 1991, the national emblems experienced a renaissance, and in 1995, the Soviet state symbols returned almost unchanged. The conflict over the political order is reflected in the dispute surrounding the symbols.

(Osteuropa 10-11/2020, pp. 83–106)