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Eastern Front Medal

Eastern Front Medal
Die Medaille Winterschlacht Im Osten 1941/42 (Ostmedaille)
The medal's obverse (left) and reverse (right).
Awarded by Nazi Germany
Type Military decoration
Eligibility Military personnel
Awarded for participation in the first winter of Operation Barbarossa (the invasion of the Soviet Union)
Campaign World War II
Status Obsolete
Statistics
Established 26 May 1942
Last awarded 4 September 1944
Total awarded Over 3 million
Ostmedaille ribbon bar
Ostmedaille ribbon bar

The Eastern Front Medal (German: Medaille „Winterschlacht im Osten 1941/42“) was a World War II German military decoration awarded to both combatant and non-combatant personnel who saw service on the German Eastern Front during the period 15 November 1941 to 15 April 1942. It was instituted on 26 May 1942 and is more commonly known as the Ostmedaille (East Medal). It was commissioned to recognise the hardship endured by German and Axis personnel, combatant or non-combatant, during the especially bitter Russian winter of 1941 and 1942. It was wryly called the Frozen Meat Medal or the "Order of the Frozen Flesh" (German: Gefrierfleischorden) by Heer, Luftwaffe and Waffen-SS personnel to whom it was awarded.[1][2]

Qualification for the award

  • 14 days served in active combat within the specified area between 15 November 1941 and 15 April 1942
  • 60 days served in specified area between 15 November 1941 and 15 April 1942, non-combat
  • Wounded in action
  • Killed in action (posthumous award)
  • Injury caused by frostbite (or another injury related to the climate) severe enough to warrant the issue of a Wound Badge

Unique in that its designer was a contemporary serving soldier, SS-Unterscharführer Ernst Krause, the medal was held in high regard by all branches of the Wehrmacht. Measuring 3.6 cm (1 in) in diameter, of (generally) zinc construction, the medal was given a gun-metal coloured coating. On one side an eagle grasps a swastika and the reverse features the text "Winterschlacht im Osten 1941/42" ("Winter Battle in the East 1941/42") featuring a crossed sword and branch below the text. The helmet and outer ring were finished in a polished silver effect. A ribbon that accompanied the medal was coloured red, white and black (symbolic of blood, snow and death). The medal and ribbon were usually presented in a paper packet, but these were invariably discarded. Over 3 million were made by more than 26 confirmed firms by the time the order was officially decommissioned by Oberkommando der Wehrmacht on 4 September 1944.

Winterschlacht Im Osten With Issue Packet & Ribbon Bar

The medal itself was not worn on the combat tunic as per the 1st class Iron Cross and War Merit Cross for example, but worn as a ribbon bar, or as the ribbon alone stitched through the second from top tunic buttonhole as per 2nd Class Iron Cross and War Merit Cross.[3]

Years after the war ended, an alternative version of the medal was created which omits the swastika but is otherwise identical. Personnel who had earned the medal during the war and who were serving in the Bundeswehr could wear the alternative version with their military dress uniform.

Recipients

References

  1. ^ "General information about the Winterschlacht im Osten / Eastern Front Medal and their manufacturers". Historical War Militaria Forum. 
  2. ^ Beevor 2012, p. 327.
  3. ^ "World War 2 Awards.com - Medaille "Winterschlacht im Osten 1941/42" (Ostmedaille)". 
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