The Order of Victory (Russian: Орден "Победa", Orden "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." In its history, it has been awarded twenty times to twelve Soviet leaders and five foreign leaders, with one revocation. There is only one surviving recipient as of 2013.
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.
On the 25th of October 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 the 8th of November 1943, and was first awarded to Georgy Zhukov (#1), Alexandr Vasilevsky (#2), and Joseph Stalin (#3).
The order was also bestowed to top commanders of the Allied forces. Every order was presented during World War II, except for the controversial 1978 award to Leonid Brezhnev. Brezhnev's award was revoked posthumously in 1989 for not meeting the requirements for the award.
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).
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 Dwight D. Eisenhower's Order of Victory, which is on display at the United States National Archives Building in Washington D.C., 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 History of Yugoslavia Museum in Belgrade.
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 synthetic rubies (the need for the five stones to be of uniform color precluded the use of natural gems). In the center of the star is a silver medallion, 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 laurel and oak are bound with a red banner. The sky in the background is inlaid with blue enamel.
Against the sky, the letters "СССР" (USSR) appear in gold centered on the top of the medallion, while the word "Победа" (Victory) is displayed on the red banner at the bottom. 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.
Instead of being made at a mint, each Order was made in a jeweler's workshop.
Dwight D. Eisenhower had his star valued by an American jeweler; he told Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, who was interested in receiving such a prestigious award himself, that his stones were "fakes".
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. 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
|1||April 10, 1944||Georgy Zhukov||June 18, 1974|
|2||April 10, 1944||Aleksandr Vasilevsky||December 5, 1977|
|3||April 10, 1944||Joseph Stalin||March 5, 1953|
|4||March 30, 1945||Konstantin Rokossovsky||August 3, 1968|
|5||March 30, 1945||Ivan Konev||May 21, 1973|
|6||April 19, 1945||Aleksandr Vasilevsky||December 5, 1977||(2nd time)|
|7||April 26, 1945||Rodion Malinovsky||March 31, 1967|
|8||April 26, 1945||Fyodor Tolbukhin||October 17, 1949|
|9||May 31, 1945||Leonid Govorov||March 19, 1955|
|10||May 31, 1945||Georgy Zhukov||June 18, 1974||(2nd time)|
|11||June 4, 1945||Semyon Timoshenko||March 31, 1970|
|12||June 4, 1945||Aleksei Antonov||June 18, 1962|
|13||June 4, 1945||Dwight D. Eisenhower||March 28, 1969|
|14||June 5, 1945||Bernard Montgomery||March 24, 1976|
|15||June 26, 1945||Joseph Stalin||March 5, 1953||(2nd time)|
|16||July 6, 1945||Michael I of Romania||-||Sole surviving recipient as of 2013|
|17||August 9, 1945||Michał Rola-Żymierski||October 15, 1989|
|18||September 8, 1945||Kirill Meretskov||December 30, 1968|
|19||September 9, 1945||Josip Broz Tito||May 4, 1980|
|20||February 20, 1978||Leonid Brezhnev||November 10, 1982||Revoked (posthumously)|
Fate of the Orders
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, as well as that of Polish Marshal Michal Rola-Zymierski are in Russia.
- The Russian Central Museum of Armed Forces 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's and M. Rola-Zymierski's.
- All other orders that are in Russia are stored in the Moscow Kremlin, preserved by the Diamond Fund.
- Marshal Tito's order is at the History of Yugoslavia Museum (ex Museum 25. May)
- Dwight D. Eisenhower's Order is on display in the US National Archives Building in Washington, DC, and Bernard Montgomery's Order is in the Imperial War Museum in London.
- The Order of Michael I is allegedly in his estate.
- "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. http://www.libussr.ru/doc_ussr/ussr_4465.htm. Retrieved 2012-02-25.
- Dmitry Markov, Order of Victory - 1943 (Russian-medals.net)
- Voice of Russia, World Service in English (2005) The Order of Victory
- 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
- (Russian) Awards and medals of the Soviet Union Орден "Победа"
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Order of Victory.|
- Decorated with the Supreme Military Victory Order
- Order of Victory - 1943
- (Russian) Orders and Medals of the USSR - Order of Victory
- (Russian) Legal Library of the USSR
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