Medal Winter Battle in the East 1941/42

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Obverse and reverse of the medal
Medal Winter Battle in the East with award certificate

The medal Winter Battle in the East 1941/1942 , also known as the Eastern Medal (1941/42) in the Foundation Ordinance , was a German military award in World War II .

Background to the creation of the medal

East medal on triangular ribbon and ribbon buckle
How the ribbon for the Eastern Medal is worn on the 2nd buttonhole of
Gerhard Schmidhuber's field blouse
Correct way of wearing the ribbon for the Eastern Medal on the service uniform of the DRK nurse Elfriede Wnuk (under the ribbon for the Iron Cross, 2nd class)

After the great initial successes of the German Wehrmacht in the campaign against the Soviet Union, which culminated in the battles of Vyazma-Bryansk , Kiev and Smolensk in late autumn 1941, the German attack gradually stalled until mid-November 1941 due to the rapidly deteriorating weather. At the beginning of December 1941, the German advance came to a standstill off Moscow due to the massive counter-attacks by the Red Army and a lack of winter equipment. Due to the great loss of people and material, the slow retreat of the German units began. The crisis could only be overcome with the stabilization of the Eastern Front with the onset of the muddy period in March 1942. In order to give visible expression to the achievements of the German associations, Adolf Hitler donated the Winter Battle in the East 1941/42 medal on May 26, 1942. It should be awarded as "recognition for parole in the fight against the Bolshevik enemy and the Russian winter of 1941/1942".

The design of the medal comes from SS-Unterscharführer Ernst Krause, a graphic artist and member of the SS Propaganda Company .

Foundation Ordinance

"Ordinance on the foundation of the medal 'Winter Battle in the East 1941/42'

In recognition of the heroic commitment against the Bolshevik enemy during the winter of 1941/42, I donate the medal 'Winter Battle in the East 1941/42' ( Eastern Medal ).

Article 1 The Eastern Medal is worn on the ribbon of the medal buckle or in the second buttonhole of the tunic after the Iron Cross and the War Merit Cross. The band is red, with a narrow white, black and white vertical stripe running through the middle.

Article 2 The Eastern Medal is awarded in recognition of probation in the fight against the Bolshevik enemy and the Russian winter between November 15, 1941 and April 15, 1942.

Article 3 The entrusted receives a certificate of possession.

Article 4 The Eastern Medal remains with the bereaved as a memento after the borrowed person dies.

Article 5 According to my instructions, the Chief of the High Command of the Wehrmacht shall issue the implementing regulations, if necessary in consultation with the Minister of State and Chief of the Presidential Chancellery.

Fuehrer's headquarters, May 26, 1942

The Führer Adolf Hitler

The Chief of the High Command of the Wehrmacht Keitel

The Minister of State and Head of the Presidential Chancellery of the Führer and Reich Chancellor Dr. Meissner "


The medal has a diameter of approx. 36 × 40 mm. It is blackened in the middle and has a 1.5 to 2 mm wide silver-plated edge. The stamped insignia are embossed. On the front of the medal is the sovereign badge of the army, an eagle with flared wings. The usual version with extended wings has been omitted for reasons of space. In its claws the eagle holds a straight swastika , in the background of which a branch of laurel can be seen. Above the eagle there is a stylized German steel helmet (M35) , which was sometimes also designed "white". The steel helmet rests on a horizontal stick hand grenade .

The lapel of the medal is slightly curved outwards and also shows the stylized steel helmet with a horizontal stick grenade on its upper edge. In the center is the inscription: WINTERSCHLACHT/ IM OSTEN/ 1941/42 in capital letters. The middle line (" IM OSTEN") is shown slightly larger. Under this there is a sword and a branch of laurel, which cross in the middle.

Award terms

The medal was awarded to soldiers of the German Wehrmacht and the Waffen-SS who were deployed on the Eastern Front between November 15, 1941 and April 15, 1942

  • had participated in combat for at least 14 days (in the case of Air Force members in 30 missions) or
  • a wound for which a wound badge was awarded, or suffered frostbite, or
  • had proven themselves in continuous use for at least 60 days.

The eastern medal could also be awarded to:

  • Fallen
  • Wehrmacht members of allied countries who were subordinate to the command of the German Wehrmacht
  • Foreign volunteers sworn in to the Führer and fighting in the framework of or in associations of the German Wehrmacht (e.g. Dutch or French, see Foreign volunteers of the Waffen SS )
  • Volunteers from foreign tribes (e.g. Ukrainians, Belarusians) who fight under the orders of the German Wehrmacht, within or in associations of the German Wehrmacht
  • Women and
  • other foreigners.

The award period was later extended, so that the award was not finally stopped until October 15, 1944. The award itself could be made by a battalion commander or a senior officer. The medal was worn on the ribbon through the second buttonhole (if available under the Iron Cross II. Class) or on the medal buckle above the left breast pocket.


The ribbon is red and has a 3 mm wide, white, black and white central stripe. The color arrangement of the ribbon was based on the German national colors black-white-red in different color variants, but with an actual background symbolism.

The war reporter Joachim Preß, a member of the Propagandakompanie Grenzmark-Zeitung (Eisenstadt) , informed the magazine Uniformen Markt on September 25, 1942 that the bright red of the ribbon was for the “brave life, which is stronger than the hardest winter in the known war history “'was, should stand. For this reason, the two white stripes as a symbol of winter were kept so narrow that the brave life, i.e. the red of the ribbon, unbroken from holes, bases, peasant cottages and bunkers, could advance unstoppably towards the east like a fire. The black central stripe, on the other hand, symbolized the memory and mourning of each individual fallen (comrade) who had remained quietly on the white shroud (snow) and should be so unforgettable. They thus formed the innermost core and heart of the ribbon on a blood-red background.

Nickname of the medal

A well-known sarcastic interpretation of the coloring was as follows:

"Left and right the Red Army, in between the Smolensk - Moscow taxiway and the snow."

In soldiers' jargon , the medal was therefore often referred to as the " Rollbahnorden " or, with reference to the extreme Russian winter of 1941/42 with its numerous cases of frostbite, as the "Frozen Meat Medal", "Frozen Meat Order" or "Eisbeinorden". By 1943, the Munich Army Museum collected 32 different names for the Eastern Medal through its employee Lieutenant Colonel Miller, including the names Frost Medal , Snowman with Steel Helmet , Northern Lights Remembrance , Tundra Order , Runway Medal and Holiday Replacement Medal . There was also the following rhyme for the color of the ribbon: "The night is black, the snow is white and the Red Army from both sides."

Award numbers

According to the foundation ordinance of the Eastern Medal, only those persons were eligible who had been to the east of the imaginary "award border" in the Soviet Union. This lending border extended east of the borders of Ukraine , Ostland and east of the Finnish-Soviet border from 1940. Thus, all German and allied troop units in the rear army area that were held back for security purposes or as reserve divisions, as well as the Crimean Army, were under Erich's command von Manstein not worthy of award. How many soldiers actually exceeded the award limit can only be estimated. Of the total of 4,733,990 Wehrmacht soldiers deployed on the Eastern Front, around 2,000,000 to 2,500,000 soldiers of all branches of service are likely to have been awarded, according to a conservative estimate. However, the medal was also awarded to soldiers of the allied forces in unknown numbers. In addition, there is a further unknown number of posthumous awards, which should also be in the range over 200,000. This number only corresponds to the German losses up to December 31, 1941 and does not include the losses of other participating nations. Taking into account all these facts and the numerous ambiguities in the awarding of the medal by the division commanders on site, the total number of medals awarded is likely to have been between 2,500,000 and 3,000,000 pieces.

Manufacture of the medal

The production of the medal was complex and took place at many different companies that were commissioned to produce medals during the Second World War, for example Steinhauer & Lück in Lüdenscheid.


Image of the Eastern Medal in the "57 version" without a swastika

According to the law on titles, medals and decorations of July 26, 1957, wearing the award in the Federal Republic of Germany is only permitted without National Socialist emblems.


  • Heinrich Doehle : The awards of the Greater German Reich. Orders, decorations, badges. 4th expanded edition. Erdmenger, Berlin 1943, pp. 31-32 (reprint edition. Melchior-Verlag, Wolfenbüttel 2008, ISBN 978-3-939791-93-5 ( historical library )).
  • Kurt-G. Klietmann : Awards of the German Reich 1936–1945. A documentation of civil and military badges of merit and honor. 11th edition. Motorbuch-Verlag, Stuttgart 2004, ISBN 3-87943-689-4 , pp. 63-64.
  • Jörg Nimmergut : German medals and decorations until 1945. Volume 4: Württemberg II - German Empire. Central Office for Scientific Order Studies, Munich 2001, ISBN 3-00-001396-2 , p. 230 ff.

Web links

Commons : Eastern Medal  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Reichsgesetzblatt No. 61 of June 6, 1942, p. 375.
  2. Uniformen Markt magazine, year 1942, issue 20 of October 15, 1942, p. 157, section medals / decorations / badges, subsection Eastern medal
  3. Werner Finck : Joke as fate, fate as joke: A German picture book on useful and pious, point (with Klaus Budzinski). v. Schröder, Hamburg 1966. pp. 76, 117 f.
  4. Uniformen-Markt magazine, year 1943, No. 7, p. 3.
  5. Klietmann: The Awards of the German Empire , 11th edition, 2004, p. 64.
  6. [Мельтюхов М.И .: Упущенный шанс Сталина. Советский Союз и борьба за Европу, 1939–1941. М .: Вече, 2000. С. 479. Mikhail Ivanovich Meltjuchow: Stalin's missed opportunity (Russian)]