as July 1941, Russian POWs were allowed to offer their services to the German
Army formations as "Hilfswilliger" (Volunteer helpers or auxiliaries).
By the end of 1941 the Wehrmacht employed around 150,000 Hiwis as they were known
by the Germans. By 1942 these men were use by the Germans to form military
anti-partisan formations known as "Osttruppen" (Eastern Troops).
Initially German commanders awarded men from the Osttruppen with German war badges
and decorations, but when Hitler learned of this, he put a stop to it. Hitler
did not like the idea of having these Russian troops wearing German medals.
Something needed to be done to award the Osttruppen.
To remedy this, official decorations were created. The so-called Eastern People
medal and badge was designed by Elmar Lang and instituted on 14 July 1942. The Eastern People medal and badge were in the shape
of a star.
The Eastern People decorations were as follows:
2nd Bronze-------w/swords----------------w/o swords------Green ribbon
2nd Silver--------w/swords----------------w/o swords------Green ribbon with two white stripes
2nd Gold----------w/swords----------------w/o swords------Green ribbon with two red stripes
1st Silver---------w/swords----------------w/o swords
1st Gold----------w/swords----------------w/o swords
First Class Badge
Above shows the 1st class gold badge with swords, which was the highest Eastern Peoples military
At the beginning these decorations were awarded exclusively to Russians, but
eventually German personnel who commanded these troops were allowed to wear such
awards, giving these medals a more legitimatize meaning.
It should be noted that the Germans had to be wearing the Iron
Cross 2nd and 1st class before obtaining the Eastern People
silver version award.
Peoples Silver and Gold Class Badges
shows the 1st class silver and gold badge with swords.
The case is two piece hinged construction with black simulated
leather outer surface. The face of the lid bears an exact facsimile
of the badge contained in the case. The facsimile is stenciled
in gold for the award in gold.
By late 1943, Hitler relented and allowed these Osttruppen to
wear German War Badges such as the Infantry, General Assault and
Wounded badges along with the Eastern People awards. By 1944,
the Osttruppen were granted the right to the Iron Cross 1st and
2nd class. No Russian soldier serving in the German Army ever
received the Knight's Cross to the Iron Cross.
Peoples 2nd Class Medals
On 14 November 1944, the Germans officially recognized the Russian National Army.
The Commander in Chief of the new Russian Liberation Army was General Andre A.
Vlassov. The men of the Russian Liberation Army received the same Eastern Peoples
awards. According to some sources special ribbons were made and issued on 2nd class
medals, which are as follows:
2nd Bronze---------w/swords--------w/o swords-------Lime green ribbon with light blue center stripe
2nd Silver----------w/swords--------w/o swords-------grass green ribbon with dark blue center stripe
2nd Gold-----------w/swords--------w/o swords-------light yellow ribbon with dark red center stripe
Above shows two 2nd class medals in gold without swords.
The 2nd class medal shown on your
left is the 2nd class gold medal with green ribbon with two red stripes.
On your right
is the gold class with
the variant Ostvolk ribbon. This variant is extremely rare, which is sometimes
referred to the Vlasov award, however, there is no evidence that it was made for
Vlasov troops. According to Angolia's book "For Führer and Fatherland" "There is positive proof
that the 2nd class award was issued to volunteers of the Vlassov Legion with distinctive
In November 1941, under the direction of the Chief of the German Military Intelligence
Admiral Canaris a special battalion formed of Eastern volunteers was authorized. In
the Neuhammer training camp five rifle companies composed of the 1st, 4th and 5th
Georgian, 2nd North Caucasian and 3rd Azerbaijani. This Special purpose battalion with
a strength of 1200 men was placed under the command of Captain Theodor Oberlander.
The unit was unique in that it took its oath of allegiance not to Hitler but to the
Army itself. Its Georgian volunteers was the most pro-German because during WW1, Germany
aided the short lived Georgian Republic.
The battalion was sent to Mittenwald to be trained as a Mountain rifle detachment. Its
armaments consisted of light machine guns, mortars, Anti-tank rifles and carbines.
In September 1942, several legionnaires were dropped by parachute behind enemy lines.
Its mission was to capture the oil fields near Grozny. Unfortunately the German
offensive on Grozny came to a complete stopped. The Legionnaires had to fight their
way through the Soviet formations towards the front line. The group managed to escape
and even bring nearly 300 deserted Red Army men.
By the end of 1942 the battalion was expanded into regimental size. When the German
Army was retreating the Caucasus the Bergmann Regiment fought rearguard actions
covering the German withdrawal. In February 1943, the regiment fought in the Crimea
against partisans. Later it fought against partisans in Poland and took part in the
suppression of the Warsaw rising.
The unofficial insignia of the detachment was the "Kindjal" (Dagger).
The dagger was suggested as insignia by the deputy commander Sonderführer von Kulschenbach. The Kindjal was worn on the left side of the mountain cap.
German cadre personnel wore the Kindjal on their collars.
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