Flag Auction Nets Profit for Bundestag | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 09.06.2004
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Flag Auction Nets Profit for Bundestag

What to do when empty coffers need topping up? The answer for the Bundestag, it seems, is blowing in the wind. Parliament pocketed over €3,000 by auctioning a German flag that once flew atop the Reichstag.


Sold! One German flag.

The first ever auction of a German flag from the top of the Reichstag building in Berlin drew a total of 123 bids, and brought more than 29,000 hits to the Web site of the German Customs Administration, which organized the auction on behalf of the Bundestag.

In the end, a persistent bidder registered as "x-carree" prevailed, snapping up the coveted item for a mere €3,350 ($4,072).

Authenticity guaranteed

The giant flag, which measures 6.4 x 4.5 meters (approximately 7 x 5 yards) comes with a certificate of authenticity. The item description notes that the flag shows the usual signs of wear and tear, such as frayed edges and the odd stain -- remnants of the four weeks it spent flapping in Berlin's famously strong winds.

The Bundestag receives all profits from the sale. And while the money is a mere drop in the ocean compared with Germany's budget shortfall this year of almost €10 billion, it demonstrates a refreshingly innovative attitude towards fundraising. As one Berlin newspaper put it, it's a start.

Odd company

There was, however, some criticism about how the auction was listed on the Customs Administration's Web site. Its online auction house is typically used to dispose of seized or rejected goods, which are grouped into categories such as toys, clothing and electronics.

But not knowing quite where to put the ex-Reichstag flag, the site's managers opted to place it under "miscellaneous," provoking consternation that such an important national symbol should have been auctioned off alongside items including stuffed trophy fish, juice glasses, and decorative plaster angel heads.

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