Eastern Peoples Awards

    Eastern Peoples

    As early 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

    Eastern Peoples Badge Eastern Peoples Badge

    Eastern Peoples First Class Badge

    Above shows the 1st class gold badge with swords, which was the highest Eastern Peoples military award.

    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.

    Eastern Peoples Badges

    Eastern Peoples Silver and Gold Class Badges

    Above 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.

    Eastern 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

    Eastern Peoples Medal

    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 ribbon colors"

    Sonderverband Bergmann

    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.

    Kindjal Pin

    Kindjal Pin

    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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