U.S.S.R.

list of awards | list of persons

The formal name of the Soviet Union is the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics (USSR). The first republics were established shortly after the October Revolution of 1917. At that time they were still independent of each other. In 1922 four republics came together to form the Soviet Union. During World War II, the Soviet Union consisted of the Russian SFSR and the Ukrainian, Byelorussian, Uzbek, Turkmen, Tajik, Kazakh, Georgian, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyz, Armenian, Lithuanian, Moldavian, Latvian, Estonian and Karelo-Finnish SSR. The Soviet Union was dissolved in 1991.

In 1936 during the Spanish Civil War, Soviet troops fought on the Republican side. In May 1939 a force of Soviet and Mongolian troops attacked the Japanese Kwantung Army in the Battle of Khalkhin-Gol (a river in Manchuria). This battle was won by the Soviet and Mongolian troops. In September 1939 the Soviet Union really became involved in World War II when she invaded Poland. This took place shortly after signing the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, the German-Soviet non-agression pact, in which the capture of the Baltic States, Finland and parts of Romania by the Soviet Union was laid down. All these countries were invaded, but the invasion of Finland in November 1939 didn’t proceed according to plan. The Soviet Union suffered terrible losses. In March 1940 the two countries signed a peace treaty.

In June 1941 Germany broke her non-agression pact with the Soviet Union, invading the country together with her allies (operation Barbarossa). Finnland also declared war on the Soviet Union. The war against the Axis powers was a struggle for survival and was soon called the "Great Patriotic War". The Germans and their allies advanced swiftly and had reached Leningrad, Moscow and Rostov by the end of 1941, but didn’t succeed in capturing these cities. Near Moscow, the Soviets launched a massive counter-offensive. In 1942, the Germans launched a new offensive in the southern sector of the Eastern Front. Stalingrad was reached, but the capture of the city eluded them. The Soviets surrounded and annihilated the Axis forces, but suffered terrible losses. Yet it meant a turning point in the war. The last large scale German offensive took place in July 1943 near Kursk, but this battle also ended in a Soviet victory. As of that moment the Soviet Union slowly recaptured her territory and finally entered Germany. In May 1945, Berlin was captured and the German capitulation was signed. Three months later Soviet troops invaded the Japanese Province of Manchuria. A week later the war was over.

The awards

The first Soviet Award was the Order of the Red Banner, based on the Order of the Red Banner of the Russian Federation from 1918. The order was instituted on 1 August 1924 by the Presidium of the Central Executive Committee of the USSR and the first pieces were produced in 1930. The statute for the order was not established until 1932. In the 30’s more Soviet orders were instituted, including the well-known Order of Lenin and the Order of the Red Star. Five Soviet orders had, until 19 June 1943, a screwback with a ring to attach the award to the uniform. The four other orders had a rectangular suspension with a red ribbon. The suspensions had a screwback. The Order of Lenin, Order of the Red Banner, Order of the Red Banner of Labor, Order of the Red Star en Order of the Badge of Honor were worn on the left breast. The four other orders were worn on the right breast.

The first Soviet Medal was the Jubilee Medal for 20 years Red Army. It was instituted on 24 January 1938 and had, together with a number of other medals, a rectangular suspension with a red ribbon, until 19 juni 1943. The suspension had a screwback. Other medals had a five-sided suspension with a pinback. All medals were worn on the left breast.

19 juni 1943 is an important date in the history of Soviet awards. The following changes in the regulations were adopted at this date:

- Four awards got a five-sided suspension to replace the screwback (Order of the Red Banner, Order of the Red Banner of Labor, Order of Lenin and Order of the Badge of Honor).

- Three awards got a five-sided suspension to replace the rectangular one (among others the Medal for Bravery and Medal for Military Merit).

- Two awards got a five-sided suspension to replace the triangular one (Medal for Valiant Labor and Medal for Distinguished Labor).

- Four awards got a screwback to replace the rectangular suspension (Order of the Patriotic War, Order of Suvurov, Order of Kutuzov and Order of Aleksandr Nevsky).

- Two awards got a flatter rectangular suspension (Medal of the Gold Star and Medal of the Sickle and Hammer).

- The position of the awards on the breast was changed also. Until 19 June 1943, five orders were worn on the left breast and four on the right breast. After the regulation changes, all orders with a screwback were worn in the right breast and all orders without on the left breast. All medals were worn on the left breast, both before and after the regulation changes.

- The use of ribbons was adopted.

As of 4 June 1944 the Order of Lenin, Order of the Red Banner, Order of the Red Star and Medal for Military Merit could be awarded in recognition of long service. Finally the Soviets realised that this devaluated the awards tremendously. On 14 September 1957 this practice was abolished and special long service medals were instituted.

Below is the order of wearing of Soviet awards (the list contains the orders and medals that were awarded during World War II and the post-war Orders and medals somehow related to World War II). The different classes of an award are listed together, although the Order of Bogdan Khmelnitsky 1st and 2nd Class for example were worn after the Order of Nakhimov 1st and 2nd Class respectively. The Order of Bogdan Khmelnitsky 3rd Class was worn directly after the Order of Kutuzov 3rd Class.

This is also the order of wearing the ribbons of these awards. For the Medal of the Gold Star and Medal of the Sickle and Hammer no ribbons existed; these were always worn in full, before the other ribbons. The civilian Order of Mother Heroine, Order of Maternal Glory and the Motherhood Medal also didn’t have ribbons.


Medal of the Gold Star - Hero of the Soviet Union (Medal "Zolotaya Zvezda" - Geroi Sovetskogo Soyuza)
Medal of the Sickle and Hammer - Hero of Socialist Labor (Medal "Serp i Molot" - Geroi Sotsialisticheskogo Truda)
Order of Victory (Orden "Pobeda")
Order of Lenin (Orden Lenina)
Order of the Red Banner (Orden Krasnogo Znameni)
Order of the Red Banner of Labor (Orden Trudovogo Krasnogo Znameni)
Order of Suvorov 1st Class (Orden Suvorova I)
Order of Suvorov 2nd Class (Orden Suvorova II)
Order of Suvorov 3rd Class (Orden Suvorova III)
Order of Ushakov 1st Class (Orden Ushakova I)
Order of Ushakov 2nd Class (Orden Ushakova II)
Order of Kutuzov 1st Class (Orden Kutuzova I)
Order of Kutuzov 2nd Class (Orden Kutuzova II)
Order of Kutuzov 3rd Class (Orden Kutuzova III)
Order of Nakhimov 1st Class (Orden Nakhimova I)
Order of Nakhimov 2nd Class (Orden Nakhimova II)
Order of Bogdan Khmelnitsky 1st Class (Orden Bogdana Khmelnitskogo I)
Order of Bogdan Khmelnitsky 2nd Class (Orden Bogdana Khmelnitskogo II)
Order of Bogdan Khmelnitsky 3rd Class (Orden Bogdana Khmelnitskogo III)
Order of Aleksandr Nevsky (Orden Aleksandra Nevskogo)
Order of the Patriotic War 1st Class (Orden Otechestvennoi voiny I)
Order of the Patriotic War 2nd Class (Orden Otechestvennoi voiny II)
Order of the Red Star (Orden Krasnoi Zvezdy)
Order of the Badge of Honor (Orden "Znak Pocheta")
Order of Glory 1st Class (Orden Slavy I)
Order of Glory 2nd Class (Orden Slavy II)
Order of Glory 3rd Class (Orden Slavy III)

Medal for Bravery (Medal "Za otvagu” )
Medal of Ushakov (Medal Ushakova)
Medal for Military Merit (Medal "Za boyeviye zaslugi")
Medal of Nakhimov (Medal Nakhimova)
Medal for Valiant Labor (Medal "Za trudovuyu doblest")
Medal for Distinguished Labor (Medal "Za trudovoye otlichiye")
Medal to the Partisan of the Patriotic War 1st Class (Medal "Partizanu Otechestvennoi voiny" I)
Medal to the Partisan of the Patriotic War 2nd Class (Medal "Partizanu Otechestvennoi voiny" II)
Medal for the Defense of Leningrad (Medal "Za oboronu Leningrada")
Medal for the Defense of Moscow (Medal "Za oboronu Moskvy")
Medal for the Defense of Odessa (Medal "Za oboronu Odessy" )
Medal for the Defense of Sevastopol (Medal "Za oboronu Sevastopolya")
Medal for the Defense of Stalingrad (Medal "Za oboronu Stalingrada")
Medal for the Defense of Kiev (Medal "Za oboronu Kieva")
Medal for the Defense of the Caucasus (Medal "Za oboronu Kavkaza")
Medal for the Defense of the Soviet Polar Region (Medal "Za oboronu Sovetskogo Zapolyarya")
Medal for the Victory over Germany in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945 (Medal "Za pobedu nad Germaniei v Velikoi Otechestvennoi voine 1941-1945")
Jubilee Medal for 20 years of Victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945 (Yubileinaya medal "20 let pobedy v Velikoi Otechestvennoi voine 1941-1945")
Jubilee Medal for 30 years of Victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945 (Yubileinaya medal "30 let pobedy v Velikoi Otechestvennoi voine 1941-1945")
Jubilee Medal for 40 years of Victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945 (Yubileinaya medal "40 let pobedy v Velikoi Otechestvennoi voine 1941-1945")
Medal for the Victory over Japan (Medal "Za pobedu nad Yaponiei")
Medal for the Capture of Budapest (Medal "Za vzyatiye Budapeshta")
Medal for the Capture of Königsberg (Medal "Za vzyatiye Kenigsberga")
Medal for the Capture of Vienna (Medal "Za vzyatiye Veny")
Medal for the Capture of Berlin (Medal "Za vzyatiye Berlina")
Medal for the Liberation of Belgrade (Medal "Za osvobozhdeniye Belgrada")
Medal for the Liberation of Warsaw (Medal "Za osvobozhdeniye Varshavy")
Medal for the Liberation of Prague (Medal "Za osvobozhdeniye Pragi")
Medal for Valiant Labor in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945 (Medal "Za doblestny trud v Velikoi Otechestvennoi voine 1941-1945")
Medal for the Veteran of Labor (Medal "Veteran truda")
Medal for the Restoration of the Ferrous Metallurgical Enterprises in the South (Medal "Za vosstanovleniye predpriaty chernoi metallurgy yuga")
Medal for the Restoration of the Donbass Coal Mines (Medal "Za vosstanovleniye ugolnykh shakht Donbassa")
Medal as Remembrance to 250 years Leningrad (Medal "V pamyat 250-letia Leningrada")
Medal as Remembrance to 1500 years Kiev (Medal "V pamyat 1500-letia Kieva")
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