Common Decorations

Decorations - The following is by no means an exhaustive list; rather it represents the most commonly seen awards made to, and worn in action by, soldiers on the Eastern Front, and only includes those actually issued between 1 September 1939 and 8 May 1945. 

crossgif.gif (1110 bytes) Germany

Service and Long Service Awards

Wehrmacht Long Service Award
(Wehrmacht Dienstauszeichen)

Instituted: 14 March 1936
Requirements: Service in the armed forces for a specified period of time.   Awarded in several grades, for 4, 12, 18, 25 and 40 years of service; only the two most recent awards could be worn concurrently.
Rarity: The 4 year award may have been fairly common, but the small size of the German armed forces in the 1930s would have resulted in the 12 and 18 year grades being much more rare, and those posessing them would probably have been too old to be serving as frontline infantrymen.

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While issued in the form of a medal and ribbon, only the ribbon was worn on the uniform when in the field, on the ribbon bar (only) over the left breast..

War Merit Cross Second Class
(Kriegsverdienstkreuz II Klasse)

Instituted: 18 October 1939
Requirements: Awarded to civilians and military personnel for outstanding service in furtherance of the war effort, in particular bravery or service not connected with direct military combat.  Awarded with swords for bravery not connected to front line action and without swords for meritorious service.  Until 21 September 1941, anyone holding the EK II was ineligible for this award, but Hitler personally changed this restriction on that date.  The War Merit Cross was thereafter worn with the Iron Cross, but behind it in order of precedence.
Rarity: On the order of 6,134,000+ awards of the Second Class award with swords were presented.

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While issued in the form of a medal and ribbon, only the ribbon was worn on the uniform when in the field, either on the ribbon bar or as a buttonhole award. A swords device was worn on the ribbon when worn in the ribbon bar, but not when the ribbon was worn in the buttonhole.

War Merit Cross First Class
(Kriegsverdienstkreuz I Klasse)

Instituted: 18 October 1939
Requirements: Awarded to civilians and military personnel for outstanding service in furtherance of the war effort, in particular bravery or service not connected with direct military combat.  Awarded with swords for bravery not connected to front line action and without swords for meritorious service.  The award of the War Merit Cross 2nd Class was a prerequisite, though on rare occasions both awards were presented simultaneously.  Until 21 September 1941, anyone holding the EK I was ineligible for this award, but Hitler personally changed this restriction on that date.   The War Merit Cross was thereafter worn with the Iron Cross, but behind it in order of precedence.
Rarity: Over 483,000 awards of the First Class award with swords were made.

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Always worn centred on the left breast pocket, unless the EK I was also worn, in which case the EK I would normally be centred and the War Merit Cross either beside or below it.

War Service Badges

Infantry Assault Badge (Infanteriesturmabzeichen)

Instituted: 20 December 1939 (Silver version) and 1 June 1940 (Bronze version)
First Awarded: April 1940
Requirements: Participation in at least three seperate infantry assaults.
Restrictions: The silver version went to men in Infantry units, the bronze version to soldiers in Motorized Infantry units.  Only one type of assault badge could be worn, regardless of the number of transfers to other arms.
Rarity: An extremely common award, probably awarded in the millions.

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Worn on the left pocket, centred if no other badges were worn, or on the left side of the EK I (as viewed from the front) when that medal was worn.  Only 1 assault badge could be worn at any one time, usually the first one awarded.
Armoured Assault Badge (Panzersturmabzeichen)

Instituted: 20 December 1939 (Silver version) and 1 June 1940 (Bronze version)
Requirements: Participation in at least three seperate armoured assaults, having been wounded in an assault, or having been decorated for bravery during an assault.  
Restrictions: The silver version went to tank crews, the bronze version to crewmen of other armoured vehicles, such as self-propelled guns, panzergrenadier troops in halftracks, armoured medical personnel, etc.  Only one type of assault badge could be worn, regardless of the number of transfers to other arms.
Rarity: A fairly common award, especially for tank crewmen.

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Worn on the left pocket, centred if no other badges were worn, or on the left side of the EK I (as viewed from the front) when that medal was worn.  Only 1 assault badge could be worn at any one time, usually the first one awarded.
General Assault Badge (Allgemeinesturmabzeichen)

Instituted: 1 June 1940
Requirements: Participation in at least three seperate assaults, having been wounded in an assault, or having been decorated for bravery during an assault. 
Restrictions: Awarded to those troops not eligible for the Infantry or Armoured assault badges; especially combat engineers, but also assault gun crews, anti-aircraft artillerymen, anti-tank gun crews, and even medical personnel.
Rarity: Fairly common award, most commonly associated with Pionier and assault gun units.

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Worn on the left pocket, centred if no other badges were worn, or on the left side of the EK I (as viewed from the front) when that medal was worn.  Only 1 assault badge could be worn at any one time, usually the first one awarded.
Close Combat Bar  (Nähkampfspange)

Instituted
: 25 November 1942
First Awarded: Gold version - 27 August 1944
Requirements: Participation in at least 15 days of close combat (10 if recipient wounded) qualified one for the Bronze award.  For service in Russia, credit was backdated to June 1941 and the Bronze award could thus also be tallied with eight month's service equalling 5 combat days.  Twelve month's service equated with ten combat days and fifteen month's service with fifteen combat days.  The Silver award required thirty days service (twenty if wounded) and the Gold fifty days (forty if wounded)
Rarity: Only 403 Gold awards were made.  Numbers for the bronze award don't seem to be in evidence, but the high attrition rate among infantrymen probably made this a somewhat rare award.

In September 1944, it was decreed that bestowal of the Close Combat Bar in Gold would automatically result in the award of the German Cross in Gold also to the deserving soldier.

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Worn above the ribbon bar on the left breast.

Campaign Awards

Medal for the Winter Campaign in the East 1941-1942 (Ostmedaille)

Instituted
: 26 May 1942
Requirements: To have served in the Russian theatre of operations, either for two weeks of combat or for sixty continuous days anywhere in the theatre, or to have been wounded or frostbitten in the theatre before completing the qualifying time, during the period 15 November 1941 to 15 April 1942.
Rarity: Several hundred thousand troops would have qualified, though many troops to whom it would conveivably have gone to became casualties during the first winter.

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While issued in the form of a medal and ribbon, only the ribbon was worn on the uniform when in the field, either on the ribbon bar or as a buttonhole award.

Crimea Shield (Krimschild)

Instituted
: 25 July 1942
Requirements: To have served in the Crimea for three months, to have taken part in at least one major operation against the enemy, or to have been wounded in the region before completing the qualifying time, during the period 21 Sep 1941 to 4 Jul 1942.
Rarity: It is estimated that 100,000 shields were awarded.

Demjansk Shield (Demjanskschild)

Instituted
: 25 Apr 1943
Requirements: To have served for sixty days in the Demjansk garrison, or to have been wounded or decorated for bravery while a member of the garrison.
Rarity: Approximately 100,000 men served in the garrison, and approximately the same number of awards of the shield were made

Kuban Shield (Kubanschild)

Instituted
: 21 Sep 1943
Requirements: To have served in the Kuban bridgehead for sixty days,   to have been wounded while serving in the bridgehead, or to have participated in at least one major operation.

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Worn on the left sleeve of the field blouse or greatcoat, overtop of rank chevrons where present.  In rare cases where more than one badge was worn, they were worn side by side, a third badge was worn over the other two.   Each badge was backed with an appropriate piece of uniform cloth (field grey or black as appropriate)

Wounds Badges

Wounds Badge  (Verwundetenabzeichen)

Instituted
: 1 September 1939 (a reissue of a similar badge awarded in WW I)
Requirements: Suffering 1 or 2 wounds entitled a soldier for the Black Class.  Three or fourwounds, or loss of a hand, foot, eye or hearing regardless of number of wounds, entitled a soldier to the Silver Class, and five wounds or more (or fewer, resulting in total disability, permanent blindness, or "loss of manhood) qualified a soldier for the Gold Class.
Rarity: Black and silver class badges were fairly common.
Worn on the left breast pocket, either centred on the pocket, or to the side of other awards if present. 
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Achievement Awards

Tank Destruction Badge  (Panzervernichtenabzeichen)

Instituted
: 9 March 1942 (Silver) and 18 December 1943 (Gold)
Requirements: One silver badge was granted to any soldier who single-handedly destroyed an enemy armoured fighting vehicle.  Upon earning the fifth silver badge, the five were exchanged for one gold badge instead, with the 6th, 7th etc. again being represented by silver badges worn in addition to the gold, until another multiple of 5 had been earned.  The award was backdated to include any "kills" tallied from 22 June 1941 onwards.  The recipient had to knock out the enemy vehicle with hand-weapons, and not be performing as part of a tank or anti-tank gun crew.
Rarity: The number of Soviet tanks on the Russian Front invariably led to heightened opportunities to earn these badges.  Very rare individuals were able to score multiple kills; Oberstleutnant Günter Viezenz of Grenadier Regiment 7 had 21 such successes and is accepted as having the highest number of Tank Destruction Badge awards.

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Worn on the right sleeve of the field blouse, halfway between the shoulder seam and the elbow.

Bravery, Leadership and Gallantry Awards

Iron Cross Second Class (Eisernes Kreuz II Klasse (EK II))

Instituted: 1 September 1939 (reissue of a similar medal awarded in WW I as well as earlier conflicts dating back to 1813)
Requirements: Awarded for outstanding service and/or bravery in the face of the enemy.
Rarity: A fairly common award, some 4 to 5 million awards were made to all the armed services during the Second World War.

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While issued in the form of a medal and ribbon, only the ribbon was worn on the uniform when in the field, either on the ribbon bar or as a buttonhole award.

Iron Cross First Class (Eisernes Kreuz I Klasse (EK I))

Instituted: 1 September 1939 (reissue of a similar medal awarded in WW I as well as earlier conflicts dating back to 1813)
Requirements: .
Unlike famous gallantry awards from other nations, the Iron Cross and Knight's Cross could also be awarded for leadership in addition to individual acts of courage.
Restrictions: While the EK II and EK I were sometimes awarded concurrently, the EK I was never awarded without the recipient already having the EK II.
Rarity: Estimates vary from 300,000 to 750,000 awards to all the armed services.

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Always worn centred on the left breast pocket.  Other awards, if present, were worn to the side or below the EK I.

German Cross in Gold (Deutsches Kreuz in Geld)

Instituted: 28  September 1941
Requirements: Awarded for outstanding service and bravery in the face of the enemy.
  The German Cross was not a part of the Iron Cross series of awards, per se, and was while it was usually awarded for deeds that were determined not quite enough for award of the Knight's Cross but greater than required for award of the Iron Cross First Class, there were instances in which Knight's Cross winners were awarded the German Cross.
  In September 1944, it was decreed that bestowal of the Close Combat Bar in Gold would automatically result in the award of the German Cross in Gold also to the deserving soldier.
Rarity: Approximately 14,637 went to men of the Army, with 14,000 more going to other recipients including Waffen SS, Navy and Air Force personnel of all branches.

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Worn centred on the right breast pocket.

Knights Cross of the Iron Cross (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuz)

Instituted:  September 1939
Requirements:
Unlike famous gallantry awards from other nations, the Iron Cross and Knight's Cross could also be awarded for leadership rather than individual acts of courage.

Restrictions: Only awarded to those already holding the EK I.
Rarity: Some 7361 awards were made, with 4777 going to the Army
(65%) and 438 (6%)  to the Waffen SS.  In the Army, they were most commonly awarded to company-grade officers, with 932 going to men ranked Hauptmann, and 630 to men ranked Oberleutnant, as opposed to just 6 to private soldiers (Schützen/equivalent).   Viewed another way, company grade officers (Leutnant, Oberleutnant, Hauptmann) received 1976 (41 percent of the Army's total), while NCOs (Unteroffizier through Stabsfeldwebel, including officer candidates) received 961 (20 percent) and men (all ranks below Unteroffizier) received 223 (4 percent). 

Of some 13 million soldiers in the Army, 1 in 2721 received a Knight's Cross.  That figure was 1 in 2283 for the 1 million man Waffen SS.

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Worn suspended around the neck with the ribbon concealed by the shirt or tunic collar and exposed at the neck.

Oakleaves to the Knights Cross of the Iron Cross (Eichenlaub zum Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuz)

Instituted:  3 June 1940
Requirements:
Unlike famous gallantry awards from other nations, the Iron Cross and Knight's Cross could also be awarded for leadership rather than individual acts of courage.
Restrictions: Only awarded to those already holding the Ritterkreuz.
Rarity: Exactly 883 awards were made to all branches of the armed forces.  583 went to the Army and Waffen SS, 246 went to the Luftwaffe (all branches).   Of the Army awards, only 56 went to men below the rank of Hauptmann, the lowest ranking of whom was an Unteroffizier.  74 in total went to the Waffen SS, with only 5 going to men below the rank of Hauptmann/Hauptscharführer, and all of these went to junior officers - none to NCO's or men.

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Attached directly to the ribbon of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross.

Wearing of German Awards

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When worn on the ribbon bar, ribbons were worn in order of importance, most important on the left.  The order of the most common medal ribbons shown here would be, in order from left to right, Iron Cross Second Class, War Merit Cross Second Class, Eastern Front Medal, and Long Service Medal.  Optionally, a maximum of two ribbons could be worn in the second buttonhole (except the Long Service medal ribbon which was not worn in this manner at all.)

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Only EK I awarded EK I and one decoration awarded.  In some cases the Wounds Badge or assault badge were worn directly below the EK I because of their small size. EK I and two decorations awarded - the Assault Badge generally went on the left side as shown.  In some instances the Wounds Badge was worn directly below EK I,


When worn on the ribbon bar, ribbons were worn in order of importance, most important on the left.  The order of the most common medal ribbons shown here would be, in order from left to right, Iron Cross Second Class, War Merit Cross Second Class, Eastern Front Medal, and Long Service Medal.

fin.gif (1041 bytes) Finland

Campaign Awards

Winter War Medal

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Continuation War Medal
For service against the Germans in 1945, a LAPIN SOTA bar was added to the ribbon. lapin.gif (2226 bytes)

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Bravery, Leadership and Gallantry Awards

Order of the Lion of Finland - Grand Cross (Suomen Leijonan)

Instituted:  11 Sep 1942
Requirements: Awarded for bravery or Merit.  Instituted to preserve the Order of the White Rose of Finland, which was diminishing in value due to overawarding.

 
Order of the Lion of Finland - Grand Commander (Commander 1st Class) (Suomen Leijonan)  
Order of the Lion of Finland - Commander (Suomen Leijonan)  
Order of the Lion of Finland - Officer (Suomen Leijonan)  
Order of the Lion of Finland - Knight  (Suomen Leijonan)  
Order of the Lion of Finland - Cross of Merit  (Suomen Leijonan)  
Order of the White Rose of Finland - Grand Cross  (Suomen Valkoisen Ruusun)

Instituted:  28 Jan 1919  Revised 16 May 1919, and 1 Jun 1940.
Requirements: Awarded for bravery or merit to Finnish or foreign citizens.

Finland's second highest decoration

Collar or sash and breast star

Order of the White Rose of Finland - Commander 1st Class  (Suomen Valkoisen Ruusun)

Instituted:  28 Jan 1919  Revised 16 May 1919, and 1 Jun 1940.
Requirements: Awarded for bravery or merit to Finnish or foreign citizens.

Neck ribbon and breast star
Order of the White Rose of Finland - Commander  (Suomen Valkoisen Ruusun)

Instituted:  28 Jan 1919  Revised 16 May 1919, and 1 Jun 1940.
Requirements: Awarded for bravery or merit to Finnish or foreign citizens.

Method of Wear:  Neck ribbon

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Order of the White Rose of Finland - Knight 1st Class (Suomen Valkoisen Ruusun)

Instituted:  28 Jan 1919  Revised 16 May 1919, and 1 Jun 1940.
Requirements: Awarded for bravery or merit to Finnish or foreign citizens.

Ribbon with rosette
Order of the White Rose of Finland - (Suomen Valkoisen Ruusun)

Instituted:  28 Jan 1919  Revised 16 May 1919, and 1 Jun 1940.
Requirements: Awarded for bravery or merit to Finnish or foreign citizens.

 

Ribbon
Cross of Freedom - 4th Class (Vapaudenristi)

Instituted:  Mar 1918
Requirements: Awarded for bravery or Merit.
Rarity: E

Finland's highest decoration was the Cross of Freedom, in its many grades.

Cross of Freedom - 3rd Class (Vapaudenristi)  
Cross of Freedom - 2nd Class (Vapaudenristi)  
Cross of Freedom - 1st Class (Vapaudenristi)  
Cross of Freedom - 1st Class with Star (Vapaudenristi)  
Cross of Freedom - Grand Cross (Vapaudenristi)  
Medal of Freedom - 2nd Class  
Medal of Freedom - 1st Class on a Rosette Ribbon  
Medal of Freedom - 1st Class  
Mannerheim Cross of the Cross of Freedom 2nd Class

Rarity: Just 191 awards were made (three men received a second award)

 
Mannerheim Cross of the Cross of Freedom 1st Class

Rarity: Only 2 were awarded.
 

 

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Wound Awards

Wound Chevron (Gold)

Instituted:
Requirements: A gold chevron was awarded for wounds received in action, silver for wounds received in service, and red for wounds received in the national cause.

 
   
Campaign Awards
Commemorative Medal for 1940/43 War
(one silver star each year)

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Bravery, Leadership and Gallantry Awards

The Medal for Military Valour (Al Valore Militar)

Instituted: 1883
Requirements: Awarded in three classes, gold, silver and bronze.  After the capitulation to the Allies, a new design was created in 1943.

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The Cross for War Merit (Croce Al Valore Militare)

Instituted: 1918  Slight alterations to the reverse of the medal were made in 1941.  Some changes may have been made between 1943 and 1945 after the capitulation to the Allies.
Requirements: Awarded in three classes, gold, silver and bronze.  After the capitulation to the Allies, a new design was created in 1943.

 
Russian Front Badge

Worn on the breast pocket of the uniform.

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rum.gif (1029 bytes) Romania

Campaign Awards

Crusade Against Communism Medal

Instituted: 1 April 1942
Requirements: Awarded for service to all ranks of the military, and civilians, who took part in the fighting on the Eastern Front.
Rarity: Unknown

Bars: Could be awarded without bars, but several bars were available covering major Romanian actions such as Azow, Basarabiam, Bucovina, Bug, Calmucia, Caucaz, Crimea, Dobrogea, Donet, Marea Neagru, Mistru, Nipru, Odesa and Stalingrad

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Crimea Shield (Krimschild)
Kuban Shield (Kubanschild)

German awards also granted to Romanians.

m1920 Tank Driver's Badge

Not worn by junior other ranks
 

Bravery, Leadership and Gallantry Awards

Medal for Loyal Service (Medalia Serviciul Credencios)

Instituted: October 1906, awarded from 1932 - 1947 in six grades.
Requirements:
Restrictions: Awarded for meit or bravery in three classes, with or without swords: Gold, Silver, Bronze.

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Loyal Service Cross (Crucea Serviciul Credincios)

Instituted: 1878
Requirements: For bravery; awarded in Gold, Silver and Bronze classes, both with and without swords.
Restrictions:

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Medal for Hardihood and Loyalty (Medalia Barbatie Si Credinta)

Instituted: November 1903
Requirements: For service to the Crown as well as lesser acts of bravery; awarded in Gold, Silver and Bronze classes, both with and without swords.
Restrictions: Awarded to non-commissioned ranks.

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Medal of Military Virtue (Medalia Virtutea Militara)

Instituted: November 1880
Requirements: For bravery; awarded in Gold and Silver classes.
Restrictions: Awarded to non-commissioned ranks.

Highest military award for non-commissioned ranks.

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Order of the Crown of Romania (Ordin Corona Romaniei)

Instituted: 14 March 1881
Requirements: For bravery or merit; awarded in Grand Cross, Grand Officer, Commander, Officer and Knight classes, both with and without swords.

Could be awarded to entire units, which entitled the soldiers therein to wear an appropriately coloured fourragere.

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Order of the Star of Romania (Ordin Steaua Romaniei)

Instituted: May 1877 (and in existence from 1864)
Requirements: For bravery; awarded in 1st Class (from 1937), Grand Officer, Commander, Officer and Knight classes.  Those awarded to military personnel had swords.  Members were limited to the following numbers:

Class Civil Holders Military Holders
Grand Cross 45

15

First Class

75

25

Grand Officer

100

40

Commander

300

125

Officer

750

250

Knight

1500

500

Could be awarded to entire units, which entitled the soldiers therein to wear an appropriately coloured fourragere.

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When awarded to officers for actions in combat, the ribbon of the Medal of Military Virtue was worn in lieu of the typical ribbon in the grades of Knight, Officer, and Commander.  To designate military awards of the order, crossed swords were worn below the crown.

The Knight and Officer grades are 40mm across, and on the ribbon of the officer grade order is a rosette.  For Commanders the cross is 50mm and is worn around the neck.  For Great Officers, aside from the Commanders neck medal, a breast star is worn with 8 rays.  It is 65mm across.  On the breast star is the cross of the order.  Class 1 of the order is marked by the cross of the order, with a diameter of 60mm, suspended by a sash, and a breast star 75mm in diameter.  The sash is made of silk and is 100mm wide.  It is red and has an 18mm silver stripe in the center.

Order of Michael the Brave (Ordin Mihai Viteazul)

Instituted: December 1916
Requirements: For bravery or merit; awarded in 1st, 2nd and 3rd Class grades, both with and without swords.

Romania's highest military decoration

The first class was worn as a medal on the chest..
The second class was worn at the neck
The third class was worn on the breast in the same manner as the German Iron Cross First Class.

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Could be awarded to entire units, which entitled the soldiers therein to wear an appropriately coloured fourragere.

Iron Cross Second Class

German award.

Iron Cross First Class

German award.

Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross

Sixteen Romanians received the German Knight's Cross (one Romanian source cites 17).  Fifteen were from the army, with the lowest ranking recipient being a Major. The breakdown of ranks is at right; it was not awarded to platoon or company officers.
Marshal 1
General 3
General de armata 2
General de corp de armata 1
General de divizie 3
General de brigada 2
Colonel 1
Major 2
Wound Chevron

A gold lace wound chevron, pointing up, was worn on the left sleeve.

 
hung.gif (1196 bytes) Hungary

Long Service Awards

Medal for Military Long Service Awarded for long service in the military.

Awarded in these grades:
Officers:
35 years (Hungarian arms within oak leaves in gold with angels on both sides, green edges in the cross)
25 years (Hungarian arms within oak leaves in silver, green edges in the cross)
15 years (Crown of King Stephen)
Non-commissioned:
6 years (marked with VI)
10 years (marked with X)
20 years (marked with XX)
35 years (Hungarian arms within oak leaves in silver)

Bravery, Leadership and Gallantry Awards

Fire Cross (also called Frontline Fighters' Cross)

Instituted: 24 Nov 1941
Requirements: Awarded in three categories

With swords and laurel wreath - for three months front line duty as a combatant.
With laurel wreath - for six months front line service in any capacity
Plain medal - for six months military service at home.

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Soldiers wounded in action had one cloth bar added to the ribbon for each wound suffered.   Posthumous awards had a black ribbon.

Military Order of Maria Theresa

Instituted: August 1938
Requirements: Awarded for exceptional military bravery
Restrictions:
Rarity: Very few awards made; this was an Austro-Hungarian award revived by Hungary.

Awarded in these grades:
Grand Cross
Commander
Knight

Order of Heroes

Instituted: August 1920
Requirements: Awarded for merit or bravery.
Restrictions: Some sources indicate that persons of Jewish descent were ineligible.
Rarity: Some 24,000 awards were made by 1944.

 

Recipient was given the title Vitéz (Knight) that was passed on to the eldest son.

Order of Merit

Instituted: June 1922
Requirements: For civil or military merit. 

Awarded in several grades (with or without swords):
Grand Cross with Holy Crown of Hungary
Grand Cross
Grand Commander
Commander
Officer
Knight

Signum Laudis Medal

Instituted: June 1922
Requirements: Awarded for merit or bravery.
Restrictions: Some sources indicate that persons of Jewish descent were ineligible.
Rarity: Some 24,000 awards were made by 1944.

Awarded in several grades (with or without swords):
Large Gold Medal with the Holy Crown (added Apr 1939)
Silver Medal with the Holy Crown
Bronze Medal with the Holy Crown

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Gold Medal Bronze Medal
 

Medal For Bravery

Instituted: 14 April 1939, an inheritance of an older Austro-Hungarian medal
Requirements: Awarded for military bravery
Restrictions: Awarded only to non-commissoned officers and men until 12 September 1942, when a Gold Medal for Bravery for Officers was added.
Rarity: Awarded in four classes:  Gold, Large Silver, Small Silver, and Bronze.   One source cites 39 awards of the Large (?) Gold Medal were made; 2500 of the Large Silver Medal, 8500 of the Small Silver Medal and 35000 of the Bronze Medal

 

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star.gif (1002 bytes) Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

Service Medals

Order of the Red Star

Instituted: 6 April 1930
Requirements: Awarded to ground forces and naval personnel of all ranks (as well as collectively to units) for outstanding service in defence of the Soviet Union in both peacetime and wartime. 
Note: The Order of the Red Star was sometimes used as a length of service award.

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Campaign Medals

Defense of Odessa

Instituted: 22 December 1942.
Requirements: Awarded to all servicemen of the Soviet Army, Navy, Ministry of Internal Affairs, and civil citizens who took part in the defense of Odessa between 10 August 1941 and 16 October 1941.
Rarity: Approximately 38,000 were issued.

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Defense of Sevastopol

Instituted: 22 December 1942.
Requirements: Awarded to all servicemen of the Soviet Army, Navy, Ministry of Internal Affairs, and civil citizens who took part in the defense of Sevastopol during the 250 day defence of the city between 5 November 1941 and 4 July 1942.
Rarity: Approximately 50,000 were issued.

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Defense of Soviet Arctic

Instituted: 5 December 1944.
Requirements: Awarded to all servicemen of the Soviet Army, Navy, Ministry of Internal Affairs, and civil citizens who took part in the defense of the Soviet Arctic beginning on 29 June 1941.
Rarity: Approximately 350,000 were issued.

Also known as: Defence of Soviet Transpolar Region and Defence of Polar Regionl

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Defense of Caucasus

Instituted: 1 May 1944.
Requirements: Awarded to all servicemen of the Soviet Army, Navy, Ministry of Internal Affairs, and civil citizens who took part in the defense of the Caucasus, with confirmation that the recipient served at least three months in the region between July 1942 and October 1943.
Rarity: Approximately 870,000 were issued.

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Defense of Leningrad

Instituted: 22 December 1942
Requirements: Awarded to all servicemen of the Soviet Army, Navy, Ministry of Internal Affairs, and civil citizens who took part in the defense of Stalingrad, from 8 September 1941 to 27 January 1944.
Rarity: Approximately 1,496,000 were issued.

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Defense of Moscow

Instituted: 1 May 1944
Requirements: Awarded to all servicemen of the Soviet Army, Navy, Ministry of Internal Affairs, and civil citizens who took part in the defense of Moscow, from 19 October 1941 to 25 January 1942.
Rarity: Approximately 1,020,000 were issued.

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Defense of Stalingrad

Instituted: 22 December 1942
Requirements: Awarded to all servicemen of the Soviet Army, Navy, Ministry of Internal Affairs, and civil citizens who took part in the defense of Stalingrad, from 12 July 1942 to 19 November 1942.
Rarity: Approximately 760,000 were issued.

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Bravery, Leadership and Gallantry Awards

Medal for Bravery (Also translated variously as "Medal for Courage", "Medal for Valor" and "Medal for Gallantry")

Instituted: 17 October 1938
Requirements: Awarded to all ranks of the Army, Navy, Border Troops and Ministry of Internal Affairs troops for personal bravery in a theater of operations; in defense of USSR borders; for performance of a soldier's duty in life-risking situations; and for activities against spies and subversive elements.  Could be earned more than once.
Rarity: Some 4,600,000 were issued.

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Considered the most highly respected Soviet military medal.

Medal for Combat Service

Instituted: 17 October 1938
Requirements: Awarded to all ranks of the Army, Navy, Border Troops and Ministry of Internal Affairs troops for exceptional conduct in battle resulting in the successful execution of a battle task by the military division; for personal courage shown in defence of USSR borders; for excellence in military and political training; and for mastering new warfare techniques and technology.  Could be earned more than once.
Rarity: Some 67,000 were issued.

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Order of Glory

Instituted: 8 November 1943
Requirements: Awarded to noncommissioned officers of ground forces, as well as junior air force personnel, for "glorious deeds" while on active service.  Degree of achievement determined the class awarded.  More than one order could be worn simultaneously.
Rarity:

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First Class
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2nd & 3rd Class
Order of the Red Banner

Instituted: 1 August 1924 (originally apeared in 1918 as Order of the Red Banner of the Russian Federation, became the first Order of the new Soviet Union created in 1922)
Requirements: Awarded to military personnel of the Soviet Army and Navy who display exceptional courage, self-denial, and valor during combat.
Rarity:

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Order of the Patriotic War

1st Class-Established 20 May 1942. Awarded to officers and enlisted men of the armed forces and security troops and to partisans, irrespective of rank, for skillful command of their units in action.
2nd Class-Established 20 May 1942. Awarded to officers and enlisted men of the armed forces and security troops and to partisans, irrespective of rank, for lesser personal valor in action.

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First Class Second Class
Order of Lenin

Instituted: 6 April 1930
Requirements: Highest national decoration of the Soviet Union; awarded to civilians for outstanding services and to military personnel for exemplary service.   Awarded automatically to Heroes of the Soviet Union and Heroes of Socialist Labour.    Also awarded collectively to factories, cities, regions and republics.

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Hero of the Soviet Union

Honorary title established 16 April 1934 with the Gold Star medal instituted 1 August 1939, by Decree of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet. Awarded to both military and civilian personnel for personal or collective deeds of heroism rendered to the USSR or socialist society. Recipients of this award simultaneously receive the Order of Lenin, and a Diploma of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet. May be awarded more than once to an individual, in which case the recipient would receive a second awarding of the Gold Star medal, but would not receive a second Order of Lenin. In place of this second awarding of the Order of Lenin, the recipient would have a sculptural bust built in the town of their birth. Approximately 12,600 people were awarded more than once. The awarding of this medal more than once was abolished by the USSR Supreme Soviet in 1988. The medal is made of Gold, the other parts are silver, covered in Gold. Special privileges were also granted to holders of this title. These included a pension with survivor benefits in case of Hero's death, first priority on the housing list, 50 per cent rent reduction, reduced taxation rates (in 1985 this was changed to tax exempt status), up to an additional 15 square meters in living space, free yearly round-trip first class ticket, free personal bus transportation, free yearly visit to sanitarium or rest home, as well as entertainment and medical benefits.

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Wound Stripe

Light wounds received in action were recognized by a red stripe; serious wounds by a yellow stripe, worn horizontally over the left breast pocket.

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