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Order of Victory

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Order of Victory
The Order of Victory
TypeSingle-grade order
Awarded forConducting combat operations involving one or more army groups and resulting in a "successful operation within the framework of one or several fronts resulting in a radical change of the situation in favor of the Red Army"
Presented by Soviet Union
EligibilityMilitary Generals and Marshals only
StatusNo longer awarded
EstablishedNovember 8, 1943
First awardedApril 10, 1944
Last awardedFebruary 20, 1978 (was revoked)
Total20
Ribbon of the Order of Victory

The Order of Victory (Russian: Орден «Победа», romanizedOrden "Pobeda") was the highest military decoration awarded for World War II service in the Soviet Union, and one of the rarest orders in the world. The order was awarded only to Generals and Marshals for successfully conducting combat operations involving one or more army groups and resulting in a "successful operation within the framework of one or several fronts resulting in a radical change of the situation in favor of the Red Army."[1] The Order of Victory is a standalone decoration awarded specially for service in World War II; unlike other awards such as the Hero of the Soviet Union, it does not belong to any order of ranking. In the history of the Soviet Union, the award had been awarded twenty times to twelve Soviet leaders and five foreign leaders, with one revocation. The last living recipient was King Michael I of Romania, who died on 5 December 2017.

History

The order was proposed by Colonel N. S. Neyelov, who was serving at the Soviet Army Rear headquarters around June 1943. The original name that Colonel Neyelov suggested was Order for Faithfulness to the Homeland; however, it was given its present name around October of that year.[2]

On October 25, 1943, artist A. I. Kuznetsov, who was already the designer of many Soviet orders, presented his first sketch to Stalin. The sketch of a round medallion with portraits of Lenin and Stalin was not approved by the Supreme Commander. Instead, Stalin wanted a design with the Spasskaya Tower in the centre. Kuznetsov returned four days later with several new sketches, of which Stalin chose one entitled "Victory". He asked Kuznetsov to slightly alter the design, and on the 5th of November a prototype was finally approved. The order was officially adopted on November 8, 1943, and was first awarded to Georgy Zhukov, Aleksandr Vasilevsky, and Joseph Stalin. All three were awarded a second order a year or more later.[citation needed]

The order was also bestowed to top commanders of the Allied forces. Every order was presented during or immediately after World War II, except for the controversial 1978 award to Leonid Brezhnev, who was not given a personal award, but an older one, originally awarded to Leonid Govorov, Marshal of the Soviet Union. (Govorov was already deceased, with his award returned to the state)[3] Brezhnev's award was revoked posthumously in 1989 for not meeting the requirements for the award.[citation needed]

Like other orders awarded by Communist nations, the Order of Victory could be awarded more than once to the same individual. In total, the order was presented twenty times to seventeen people (including Brezhnev).[citation needed]

Unlike all other Soviet orders, the Order of Victory had no serial number on it, the number was only mentioned in the award certificate. After a holder of the Order of Victory died, the award was to be given back to the state. Most of awards are now preserved by the Diamond Fund in the Moscow Kremlin. Notable exceptions are King Michael I of Romania's Order of Victory, which is held in the collection of the Romanian Royal Family, Dwight D. Eisenhower's Order of Victory, which is on display at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum in Abilene, Kansas, Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery's Order of Victory, which is on display at the Imperial War Museum in London, and Josip Broz Tito's Order of Victory, which is kept in the Museum of Yugoslav History in Belgrade.[citation needed]

Construction details

The Order is made out of platinum in the form of a pentangular star with rays between the arms, measuring 72 mm in diameter. The star is studded with 174 diamonds weighing a total of 16 carats (3.2 g), while the arms of the star are made out of ruby. The rubies in the arms are synthetic, not because the synthetic gems were cheaper, but because they had to be of a uniform color, which could not be guaranteed with natural stones. In the center of the star is a silver medallion, 31mm in diameter, with the Moscow Kremlin wall, the Spasskaya Tower, and Lenin's Mausoleum depicted in gold surrounded by bands of laurel and oak also colored in gold. The star of the tower is studded with a natural ruby. The laurel and oak are bound with a red banner. The sky in the background is inlaid with blue enamel.[4]

Against the sky, the letters "СССР" (USSR) appear in gold centered on the top of the medallion, while the word "Победа" (Victory) in white, is displayed on the red banner at the bottom, made with enamel. The total mass of the order is 78g, which consists of 47g of platinum, 2g of gold, 19g of silver, 25 carats of ruby and 16 carats of diamond. The medal is estimated to be worth $10 million.[citation needed]

Instead of being made at a mint, each Order was made in a jeweler's workshop.[citation needed]

Dwight D. Eisenhower had his star valued by an American jeweler; according to Bernhard, Prince Consort of the Netherlands (who, having been Commander of the Dutch Armed Forces during the war, was interested in receiving such a prestigious award himself but never got it), Eisenhower told him that his stones were "fakes".[5]

Ribbon

The Order Ribbon.

The ribbons of various Soviet orders have been combined to create the Order Ribbon. The total length of the ribbon is 44 mm and it is mostly worn on the field uniform.[6] The following featured orders are depicted on the ribbon (read from outside towards the center):

  • Order of Glory (Орден Славы/Orden Slavy). Orange with black center stripe
  • Order of Bogdan Khmelnitsky (Орден Богдана Хмельницкого/Orden Bogdana Khmelnitskogo). Light blue stripe
  • Order of Alexander Nevsky (Орден Александра Невского/Orden Aleksandra Nevskogo). Dark red stripe
  • Order of Kutuzov (Орден Кутузова/Orden Kutuzova). Dark blue stripe
  • Order of Suvorov (Орден Суворова/Orden Suvorova). Green stripe
  • Order of Lenin (Орден Ленина/Orden Lenina). Large Red stripe (center section)

List of recipients

British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery (left, wearing beret) was awarded the Order of Victory on June 5, 1945. American general Dwight Eisenhower and Soviet field marshal Georgy Zhukov, also recipients of the Order of Victory, are to the right of Montgomery. British air marshal Sir Arthur Tedder (right of Zhukov) is also present.
# Date Name Died Note
1 1944-04-10April 10, 1944 Soviet Union Georgy Zhukov 1974-06-18June 18, 1974
2 1944-04-10April 10, 1944 Soviet Union Aleksandr Vasilevsky 1977-12-05December 5, 1977
3 1944-04-10April 10, 1944 Soviet Union Joseph Stalin 1953-03-05March 5, 1953
4 1945-03-30March 30, 1945 Soviet Union Poland Konstantin Rokossovsky 1968-08-03August 3, 1968
5 1945-03-30March 30, 1945 Soviet Union Ivan Konev 1973-05-21May 21, 1973
6 1945-04-19April 19, 1945 Soviet Union Aleksandr Vasilevsky 1977-12-05December 5, 1977 (2nd time)
7 1945-04-26April 26, 1945 Soviet Union Rodion Malinovsky 1967-03-31March 31, 1967
8 1945-04-26April 26, 1945 Soviet Union Fyodor Tolbukhin 1949-10-17October 17, 1949
9 1945-05-31May 31, 1945 Soviet Union Leonid Govorov 1955-03-19March 19, 1955
10 1945-05-31May 31, 1945 Soviet Union Georgy Zhukov 1974-06-18June 18, 1974 (2nd time)
11 1945-06-04June 4, 1945 Soviet Union Semyon Timoshenko 1970-03-31March 31, 1970
12 1945-06-04June 4, 1945 Soviet Union Aleksei Antonov 1962-06-18June 18, 1962
13 1945-06-05June 5, 1945 United Kingdom Bernard Montgomery 1976-03-24March 24, 1976
14 1945-06-10June 10, 1945 United States Dwight D. Eisenhower 1969-03-28March 28, 1969
15 1945-06-26June 26, 1945 Soviet Union Joseph Stalin 1953-03-05March 5, 1953 (2nd time)
16 1945-07-06July 6, 1945 Kingdom of Romania Michael I of Romania 2017-12-05December 5, 2017
17 1945-08-09August 9, 1945 Poland Michał Rola-Żymierski 1989-10-15October 15, 1989
18 1945-09-08September 8, 1945 Soviet Union Kirill Meretskov 1968-12-30December 30, 1968
19 1945-09-09September 9, 1945 Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Josip Broz Tito 1980-05-04May 4, 1980
20 1978-02-20February 20, 1978 Soviet Union Leonid Brezhnev 1982-11-10November 10, 1982 Revoked (posthumously)

Brezhnev's receipt of the Order of Victory was controversial. Brezhnev was a young political officer during the war who did reach the rank of lieutenant general, but did not command responsibility close to the other recipients of the Order. He only received the decoration after he was Head of State and thus able to essentially award the medal to himself. As a result of general hostility to Brezhnev after his death and belief that this award had been done out of vanity rather than earned from merit, the Order of Victory was posthumously revoked in 1989.[7]

Fate of the Orders

Plaque (2000) at the Grand Kremlin Palace in Moscow, listing the recipients of the Order of Victory. Brezhnev's name is not on the plaque, as his award was revoked in 1989.

After the death of the recipient of the Order of Victory, it was to be given back to the state.

  • All orders awarded to Soviet commanders are in Russia.
    • The Central Armed Forces Museum in Moscow has five orders: two of A. Vasilevsky, two of G. Zhukov and one of R. Malinovsky.
    • The State Precious Metals and Gems Repository (Gokhran) in Russia has two orders: K. Rokossovskiy, and M. Rola-Żymierski.
    • All other orders that are in Russia are stored in the Moscow Kremlin, preserved by the Diamond Fund.
  • King Michael I of Romania (d. 2017) was for 28 years the only living holder, following the death in 1989 of M. Rola-Żymierski; his order is held in the Royal Collection of the Romanian Royal Family.[8]
  • Tito's order is at the Museum of Yugoslavia, Belgrade (former the May 25th Museum)
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower's Order is on display at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum in Abilene, Kansas.[9]
  • Bernard Montgomery's Order is in the Imperial War Museum in London.

See also

References

  1. ^ "Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR of November 8, 1943" (in Russian). Legal Library of the USSR. 1943-11-08. Retrieved 2012-02-25.
  2. ^ Dmitry Markov, Order of Victory - 1943 (Russian-medals.net)
  3. ^ "Орден для генсека: как Брежнева наградили за победу, которой не было". BBC News Русская Служба.
  4. ^ Voice of Russia, World Service in English (2005) The Order of Victory Archived 2007-09-30 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands in an interview with H.G. Meijer, published in "Het Vliegerkruis", Amsterdam 1997, ISBN 90-6707-347-4 . page 92
  6. ^ (in Russian) Awards and medals of the Soviet Union Орден "Победа"
  7. ^ Dobbs, Michael (September 30, 1989). "Presidium Takes Back Brezhnev's Medal". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 31, 2021.
  8. ^ 96 de fapte în 96 de ani (romaniaregala.ro, December 5, 2019, (in Romanian))
  9. ^ Featured Museum Artifact
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Order of Victory
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