RUSSIAN FRONT ARTICLE BY JAMIE CROSS
THE RUSSIAN FRONT AWARDS OF GERMANY

AND HER ALLIES 1941-45


When Germany invaded Russia in 1941, the world did indeed hold its breath. Many of Germany's allies followed suit and sent armies to help. Countries on the side lines of supporting Hitler also sent troops, Spain for one. Finland went as far as to join Germany in invading Russia in a bid to win back seeded territories from the winter war of 1939. To commemorate this momentus occasion Germany instituted an award synonymous with the Russian Front being a campaign award with the award entitled "The Medal for the Winter Campaign in Russia 1941/42" or the unofficial title "Ost Medal", though it was often called the Frozen Flesh Award by the troops. The award was instituted on the 26th of May 1942 by Hitler, but unlike many of the other awards, it was designed by a serving Soldier an SS Unterscharfuhrer named Ernst Kraus. The design is in itself is self explanitory showing the German Steel helmet to the top in silver over a stick granade , This is over an eagle holding a swastika with an oak leaf branch, this is on a central gun metal coloured disc edge in silver. To the reverse, you have the wording "Winterschlacht In Osten 1941/42"

A RUSSIAN FRONT MEDAL FRONT AND BACK WITH ITS RIBBON

A Russian Front medal front and back with its ribbon

To qualify for this award a soldier had to meet the following criteria being any of the below;-

  • A minimum of two weeks combat action.

  • Being awarded the Wound badge for action in the East,.

  • 60 days of service in the combat zone in the East ,

  • For flying personnel 30 days of operations over enemy territory were needed .

    Service counted between the 15th of November 1941 until 15th of April 1942 though this was expanded later on by the wehrmacht orders dated 20th January 1943 . The order then included any Military Personnel in the East such as nurses, medics etc, working or serving in the armed forces of Germany and her allies, personnel killed in action, civilians working for Germany in the area and foreign volunteers in the Wehrmacht (providing they were recommended for the award by a Divisional Commanding General).

  • A TWO HOLDER OF THE RUSSIAN FRONT MEDAL WEARING THE RIBBONS RIBBON

    (Above A Pair of Soldiers wearing their Russian Front medal ribbon)

    The award was worn on the service tunic either on a ribbon bar or from the 2nd buttonhole of the tunic like the Iron Cross 2nd class,and was highly regarded by the troops.

    A SELECTION OF RIBBON BARS

    A selection of German Medal ribbons both 1941-45 types and the 1957 type

    A COURT MOUNTED SET OF THREE AWARDS

    (A court mounted set of three, being the Iron Cross 2nd Class, The Eastern Poeples Bravery Medal and the Russian Front Medal)

    When full parade uniforms were wornm a full size ribbon bar with the awards on them were worn like the example shown above.

    A COURT MOUNTED SET OF THREE AWARDS

    (A war time and 1957 stick pin miniture group)

    In civilian clothes, a stick pin of either 9mm or 16 mm was worn on the lapel as shown above notice the 1957 type without the swastika .

    AN AWARD DOCUMENT

    The medal was issued with an possession citation with the holder's name and rank typed or written onto it and was usually signed by a company officer.

    AN AWARD WITH ITS PAPER PACKET

    The medal once manufactured and shipped , came in a buff paper packet with both the official and unofficial names printed to it, and inside the paper packet you found the medal and medal ribbon.

    On some of the ribbon loops you will find a manufacturer's code number stamped in and this will often tie in with the maker's name that is printed to the reverse of the packet.

    So far, the following numbers have been noted by me on the awards medal loops 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11,13, 15, 16, 19, 20, 26, 27, 32,33, 36,38,40, 44, 52,76, 80, 81, 84,, 107, 108, and there are also a few seen with the LDO code mark. I have also seen L/12, L/14 and L/16 which are private purchase items.

    Many of Germany's allies followed suit and issued Russian Front campaign awards of their own. These can be found in German medal and combat groups, and are interesting additions to many collections.

    To be continued,

    Rumania issued a medal with bars, these bars are hard to find, the award only turns up from time to time.

    Italy issued a Cross and Badge to the units it sent to Russia, the CSIR Cross and the Russo Front badge.

    Slovakia issued a Badge of Honour for Service on the Eastern Front as well a badge of Honour for service in the Crimea and a Commemorative badge of the Schnelle (Swift) division on the Russian Front.

    From Norway Quisling in October 1943 instituted the Front Line Soldiers Badge. This was originally issued to both male and female personnel though later a distinct award was made for nurses. In Holland The Mussert Cross was issued and awarded for bravery and service on the Eastern Front. Though this award was stopped by Hitler,

    The Spanish Government along with Germany issued a pair of commemorative and bravery awards to its blue division, which fought as a volunteer force under German control. These awards were still being issued in the 1970s under the Franco regime along with other German World War two awards as replacements.

    Finland issued medals and badges to its troops and allies after the winter war of 1939-1940, for what was termed "the continuatiuon war 1941-1944", when Finland joined Germany in the hope of winning back lost territories seeded to Russia in 1940. These awards range from the continuation War medal to Front crosses and travelling badges (which are more tourist awards bought and given on a regimental level for travelling from one place to another in Finland). Soldiers the world over collected these in the towns and villages and could buy fobs to add these badges on. Some of these fobs were made by Inuits out of bone and metal and as well as these fobs the soldiers fuelled a market in uniut sculptures that has carried on into today with items costing from a few hundred pounds to several thousand, including polar bears, seals, walruses, eagles etc These can sometimes be found in amongst soldiers trinkets. . Copyright Jamie Cross 1999- 2020 All rights reserved