The first Soviet order, the Order of the Red Banner of the Russian Federation, appeared in 1918. This decoration, which could be awarded to every citizen of the Republic who had displayed "outstanding gallantry and valour in battle", was instituted by a decree of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee on September 16,1918. The first Order of the Red Banner of the Russian Federation was gi-ven to Vasili Blyukher. The 10,000-strong South Urals Partisan Army under Blyukher's command accomplished a heroic raid behind the lines of the Whites. Having covered 1,500 km in 40 days of continuous fighting, the partisans joined with regular Red Army units. The recommendation for award of the decoration, sent in by the Revolutionary Military Council of the Third Army, into which Blyukher's partisan army was incorporated, said: "The raid made by Comrade Blyukher's forces under impossible conditions can only be equated with Suvorov's crossings in Switzerland."
On September 30, 1918, the All-Russia Central Executive Committee awarded Blyukher Order of the Red Banner of the Russian Federation No. 1. For his outstanding contribution to the victory in the Civil War, Vasili Blyukher, an eminent Soviet military leader, who later became one of the first marshals of the USSR, received four Orders of the Red Banner. In the second half of the 1920s, he was given still another, fifth order for his work as a military adviser to the revolutionary government of China.
Another three heroes of the Civil War - S.S.Vostretsov, I.F.Fedko and J.F.Fabricius - received four Orders of the Red Banner each. More than thirty people were awarded this order three times and some three hundred people, twice. In all, nearly 15,000 heroes became bearers of the Order of the Red Banner for military merit during the Civil War. In the event the order was presented to a person more than once, each successive badge had a small enamel plate in its lower part with a numeral indicating its number in order of succession ("2", "3", etc.).
The section on numismatics of the History Museum has on display several Orders of the Red Banner of the Russian Federation complete with decoration certificates, which include a very brief account of the deeds for which the heroes were given the decorations.
In March 1921, the 10th Congress of the Party was held in Moscow. At the time, a counterrevolutionary mutiny staged by White Guard officers and generals and supported from abroad, broke out in Kronstadt, a naval fortress near Petrograd.
On Lenin's proposal, the 10th Congress sent 279 of its delegates headed by Kliment Voroshilov to help suppress the mutiny. The Communist delegates to the 10th Congress were in the front ranks of the advancing detachments of the Red Army, and quite a few of them were awarded the Order of the Red Banner for their fearlessness. One of the heroes was Rafail Khmelnitsky, who was given his second Order of the Red Banner for Kronstadt. The decoration certificate, which is to be seen in the museum's section on numismatics, says that the Order of the Red Banner of the Russian Federation was presented to Rafail Khmelnitsky, who, "taking part in the assault on the forts of the Kronstadt fortress, encouraged the Red Armymen with his own exemplary gallantry and thus contributed to the final clearing of Kronstadt from counterrevolutionary gangs." Khmelnitsky was not even twenty at the time.
On April 8, 1920, the Honorary Revolutionary Weapon - a cavalry sabre with a gilded hilt and a badge of the Order of the Red Banner attached to the hilt - was instituted by a decree of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee. The first paragraph of the decree read: "The Honorary Revolutionary Weapon, being an extraordinary distinction, is awarded for outstanding feats of arms performed by senior commanding officers of the Army in the Field." Altogether, 21 outstanding Soviet military leaders received this award. Among them were S.S.Kamenev, Commander-in-Chief of all the armed forces of the Soviet Republic, the legendary heroes of the Civil War M.V.Frunze, S.M.Budyonny, K.Ye.Voroshilov and G.I.Kotovsky, talented Red Army commanders M.N.Tukhachevsky, S.K.Timoshenko, I.P.Uborevich and A.I.Kork, and a number of others. S.S.Kamenev and S.M.Budyonny, who had already received all the types of awards that existed in the Russian Federation at the time, were given a special distinction - Honorary Firearms with a badge of the Order of the Red Banner fixed to the grip. This mark of esteem was conferred upon S.S.Kamenev and S.M.Budyonny by the Revolutionary Military Council of the Republic (Order No.28 of January 26, 1921). The Honorary Revolutionary Weapon (cold steel) was last awarded to S.S.Vostretsov "for outstanding feats in extinguishing the conflict on the Chinese Eastern Railway in 1929." S.S.Vostretsov had already been decorated with four Orders of the Red Banner for his heroism in the Civil War.
Following the example of the Russian Federation, military awards were instituted during the Civil War by the other Soviet Republics. Each of these awards marked a heroic deed performed for the sake of an early victory over foreign interventionists and domestic counterrevolution - the common enemies of the working people of all the Soviet Republics.
The first Soviet Republic after Russia to institute a military order was Azerbaijan. On Lenin's personal instructions, the Red Army advanced to the borders of Azerbaijan in April 1920 to support the workers' and peasants' uprising against the bourgeois Mussavatist government that had started there. A group of armoured trains under the command of M.G.Yefremov led the advance. The Soviet armoured trains made a sudden and swift 200-kilometre raid into the enemy-occupied territory and entered Baku on the evening of April 27. The uprising started by the Baku proletariat and supported by Yefremov's armoured trains resulted in the proclamation of Soviet power in the capital of Azerbaijan.
The Revolutionary Committee of the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic awarded Mikhail Yefremov Order of the Red Banner of the Azerbaijan SSRNo.l. For this heroic deed, Yefremov received still another award - the Order of the Red Banner of the Russian Federation. This double decoration was meant to show that the victory won over the enemy was in the interests of the working people of Russia and Azerbaijan alike. Among the bearers of the Azerbaijan order were G.K.Ordzhonikidze, S.M.Budyonny, A.I.Todorsky, A.I.Yegorov, and a number of other prominent participants in the Civil War.
The Order of the Red Banner of the Azerbaijan SSR was awarded about 60 times. Three badges of the order are on show in the History Museum. One of the Azerbaijan military orders adorning the museum's collection, No. 13, was given to a non-military person - Ivan Sorokin, a Baku worker.
In February 1921, an uprising broke out in Georgia against the Menshevik government, which was still in power there at the time. At the request of the Revolutionary Committee of Georgia, the Red Army came to the aid of the insurgents, with armoured trains once again spearheading its advance. However, the bridge across the Kura River on the border between Azerbaijan and Georgia had been blown up. A commission of experts determined that it would take seven days to restore it. A team of workers headed by Sorokin, summoned from Baku to do the job, worked for three days without a minute's break. By the end of the third day, the bridge was restored. The Soviet troops crossed the bridge and hastened to the help of the insurgent workers and peasants of Georgia. Two days later, Tiflis (Tbilisi) was liberated and Soviet power was established all ov-er Transcaucasia. Included in the order of the Revolutionary Committee of Azerbaijan on the decoration of those who had distinguished themselves in the course of the operation with the Azerbaijan military order was the Baku worker Ivan Sorokin.
The Soviet governments of the other two Transcaucasian republics, Armenia and Georgia, also instituted their own Orders of the Red Banner. These decorations were given to representatives of many nationalities of this country who took an active part in the establishment of Soviet power in Transcaucasia and in defending it from foreign and domestic counterrevolution.
Semyon Khmaladze, a professional revolutionary, was well on in years when the Revolution was accomplished. He had a vast experience of underground Party work and had spent years in prison and exile. He had seen combat action, too. Way back, during the revolution of 1905, Khmaladze was elected commander of a Red Guards unit in Baku and took part in street fights against Cossacks and pogrom-makers. After the victory of the Great October Socialist Revolution of 1917, Khmaladze commanded the Baku Soviet Battalion and the Special Branch, was Commissar of the Lenin 1st Communist Armoured Train and took part in battles with General Denikin's White Guards. In 1920, he was recalled to the Southwestern Front, where he fought with the White Poles as commander of armoured train No.21 named after his comrades-in-arms PA.Dzhaparidze and S.G.Shaumyan. After the armoured train was destroyed in a heroic battle, he was placed in command of another armoured train, No.7, also named after Dzhaparidze and Shaumyan. Fighting in the ranks of the 9th Red Army, he took part in routing the Whites and the Greens (anarchist formations) in the Northern Caucasus and subsequently, having been transferred to the 11th Red Army, he participated in the liberation of Georgia from the Mensheviks. During the Tiflis operation, Khmaladze's armoured train drew all the artillery fire of the enemy. This task was accomplished successfully. For his participation in the liberation of Georgia, Khmaladze was awarded the Orders of the Red Banner of the Russian Federation, the Azerbaijan SSR and the Georgian SSR. Later on, Khmaladze received the Order of the Red Banner of Labour of the Georgian SSR for his services to Soviet Georgia.
Levon Karapetyan, a company commander of the 3rd Armenian Soviet Infantry Regiment, received his first award, Order of the Red Banner of the Armenian SSR No.54, in April 1921 for bravery shown in fighting counterrevolution. Another 16 men from Karapetyan's company proudly wore the Armenian military order, whereas in some other units of the Armenian Red Army there were only one or two holders of the order per regiment. It was not for nothing that the 8th Company commanded by Karapetyan was given the honorary title of Communist Company. Shortly afterwards, he was awarded another military decoration, the Silver Star of Armenia. After the Civil War in Transcaucasia was ended, Levon Karapetyan commanded a unit of the Armenian Cheka (security force). The unit carried out quite a few bold combat operations under the leadership of its fearless commander. In 1923, Karapetyan became a frontier guard. More than once, the high command gave Levon Karapetyan weapons of honour as recognition for his outstanding services in guarding the state border. He was particularly proud of having a presentation Mauser pistol with the inscription: "For unrelenting struggle against counterrevolution. From the Collegium of the Joint State Political Administration (OGPU)." In 1932, Karapetyan was awarded the Order of the Red Banner of Labour of the Armenian SSR for his outstanding contribution to the defence of the frontier. During the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945, he continued active struggle against the enemies of the Soviet Union, adding the Orders of Lenin, three Orders of the Red Banner of the USSR and numerous medals to his previous awards. Levon Karapetyan has given over his Armenian Republic's decorations and also his presentation Mauser pistol to the History Museum as a gift.
The struggle against the remains of counterrevolutionary forces was especially bitter and protracted in Soviet Central Asia. The Bukhara People's Soviet Republic awarded its heroes for military merit a decoration which was originally named the Badge of Military Distinction and subsequently, the Order of the Red Star of the BPSR. A number of servicemen of the Bukhara Red Army, who had particularly distinguished themselves, had two or even three Bukhara national awards. Yarulla Khasanshin, Assistant Military Commissar of the 1st Bukhara Cavalry Regiment named after the Central Committee of the Bukhara Communist Party, received his first award, the Order of the Red Star of the BPSR 3rd Class, for a battle at the village of Kushkhana on November 2, 1922. His next award, the Order of the Red Star of the BPSR 2nd Class, was given to him for gallantry displayed during the liquidation of the band headed by Astan Korkhul Век on February 6,1923. And, lastly, the Bukhara order of the highest, 1st Class was conferred upon Khasanshin for rescuing a militia detachment surrounded by a counterrevolutionary basmachi band. M. Ulyanov, a squadron commander of the same regiment, had as many awards of the Bukhara People's Soviet Republic.
Soviet Russia sent its best men, well-tried at the fronts of the Civil War, to the aid of the young and inexperienced ethnic units of the Red Army. Quite a few Russian Red Army commanders and men proudly wore Bukhara decorations awarded them for their contribution to the struggle against the basmachi in Central Asia.
Corps Commander P.A.Pavlov was awarded the Order of the Red Star of the BPSR 1st Class for outstanding feats in the struggle against the basmachi. In 1923, after a number of fresh operations against the basmachi that he had successfully accomplished, the 4th All-Bukhara Kurultai (Congress) awarded P.A.Pavlov an unprecedented distinction, a sabre with a badge of the Bukhara order attached to the, hilt, for his military merit. The diploma of the Central Executive Committee of the Bukhara People's Soviet Republic presented to PA.Pavlov together with the award said: "On behalf of the grateful people of Bukhara, their elective body, the Fourth All-Bukhara Kurultai, has resolved to award you a silver sabre of honour with a badge of the Order of Military Distinction 1st Class on the hilt. This distinction is conferred on you, esteemed Comrade Pavlov, for your victories over the enemies of the people of Bukhara." The text of the diploma was also engraved on the blade of the sabre and its scabbard was adorned with five miniature gold badges of the order.
The Khorezm People's Soviet Republic also had its own combat decorations: the Red Military Order and the Order of the Red Banner. Red Military Order No. 1 was given to squadron commander of the 1st Khorezm Cavalry Regiment F.K. Kalzafarov. The badge of the order and the decoration certificate are to be seen in the History Museum.
After the formation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1922, the country's military decoration, the Order of the Red Banner of the USSR, was instituted by the ordinance of the Central Executive Committee of the USSR of August 1, 1924. Considering the great historic significance of the orders of the Union republics as vivid illustrations of the heroic events of the Civil War, it was decided not to exchange their badges for those of the All-Union order.
On April 6, 1930, the Order of Lenin, the country's highest decoration, was instituted by an ordinance of the Presidium of the Central Executive Committee of the USSR. The statute of the order, approved on May 5,1930, says that the Order of Lenin is awarded to individual citizens, collectives, institutions, enterprises and public organisations of the USSR for outstanding feats contributing to socialist construction. The order is also awarded to individuals who have contributed greatly to the national defence of the USSR. Order of Lenin No. 1 was conferred on the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda on May 23, 1930, for promoting the acceleration of socialist construction and in connection with its fifth anniversary.
The initial version of the badge of the Order of Lenin did not have representations of the red banner and the red star - the main Soviet symbols. For this reason, the making of badges of the Order of Lenin of this type was discontinued in November 1931. The new version of the badge of the Order of Lenin, made of gold and platinum, comprised a red banner with the inscription "LENIN" and a red five-pointed star in addition to the other Soviet symbols and emblems shown on the order. This badge of the Order of Lenin is presented to those who have performed outstanding labour and military feats. Some 400,000 people have been decorated with this highest Soviet order. Among them are workers and servicemen, collective farmers and scientists representing all the nations and nationalities of the Soviet Union. The Order of Lenin has also been awarded to quite a few prominent figures in the international communist and workers' movement.
A particular pride of the section on numismatics is Order of Lenin No. 401149, which was presented to the History Museum on February 6,1972 for its substantial contribution to the development of historical science and in connection with its 100th anniversary.
A number of new awards were instituted in the years of the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945).
On May 20, 1942, the Order of the Patriotic War of two classes was established. Its designer, artist A.I. Kuznetsov, used the red star, the emblem of the Soviet Armed Forces, as the basis. The central medallion has the inscription "Patriotic War" on a white enamel circle. The military nature of the order is emphasised by a crossed rifle and sabre. In the centre of the badge on red enamel are a gold hammer and sickle - the symbol of the alliance of the workers and peasants.
The statute of the Order of the Patriotic War provided that it was to be awarded to servicemen of all arms of the fighting forces as well as to civilians who had distinguished themselves in fighting the Nazis. By an ordinance of July 2,1942, this order was conferred on nine artillerymen for heroism displayed in battles near Kharkov. The first name mentioned in the ordinance is that of Captain Ivan Krikly. His artillery division destroyed 32 enemy tanks and over 300 infantrymen in an engagement with Nazi troops. Captain Krikly did not live to receive the high award: he was fatally wounded and died in hospital. Order of the Patriotic War 1st Class No. 1 was handed over to the family of officer V.P. Konyukhov, who was killed in action. Order of the Patriotic War 2nd Class No. 1 is in the family of Senior Lieutenant P.A.Razhkin, who also gave his life for the Motherland. In all, 350,000 Soviet people were awarded the Order of the Patriotic War 1st Class and more than a million received the Order of the Patriotic War 2nd Class for their exploits in the last war. This order was also conferred on many citizens of other countries who contributed to the common cause of struggle against Nazism.
During the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the victory over Nazism, all the surviving participants in the Great Patriotic War were awarded the Order of the Patriotic War, 1st or 2nd Class, depending on their contribution to the victory.
In the years of the Great Patriotic War, several orders named after great Russian military and naval commanders were established. They were intended for senior officers of the Red Army and Navy who showed themselves to be skilful commanders.
The Order of Suvorov of three classes was given to commanding officers who carried out a successful offensive operation against a superior enemy force, routing the enemy. Order of Suvorov 1st Class No. 1 was awarded to the outstanding Soviet military leader Marshal of the Soviet Union Georgi Zhukov. Order of Suvorov 2nd Class No. 1 was presented to Lieu-tenant-General V.M.Badanov, commander of a tank corps. Altogether, thousands of Soviet senior officers received this high award of one class or another during the war.
The order named after the great Russian military leader Mikhail Kutuzov also had three classes and was intended as an award for skilfully dodging an enemy blow and dealing a successful counterblow - a tactic of which Kutuzov was a recognised master. Order of Kutuzov 1st Class No. 1 was given to Lieutenant-General I.V.Galanin for outstanding feats at Stalingrad.
In October 1943, when the Red Army began ousting the invaders from the Soviet Ukraine, the order named after Bogdan Khmelnitsky, the outstanding son of the Ukrainian people, was instituted. Besides servicemen of regular Red Army units, this order could also be awarded to partisans who distinguished themselves in fighting the Nazi invaders. Order of Bogdan Khmelnitsky 1st Class No. 1 was given, by an ordinance of October 26,1943, to Major-General A.I.Danilov, Commander of the 12th Army of the Third Ukrainian Front, for his part in the liberation of the city of Zaporozhye.
The Order of Alexander Nevsky, of one class, could be awarded to Red Army officers holding the rank from platoon commander to division commander for directing a successful operation resulting in inflicting heavy losses on the enemy. The first officer to receive this order was Senior Lieutenant I.N.Ruban, commander of a marine battalion, for repulsing an attack mounted by a whole Nazi regiment supported by tanks. All in all, this order was awarded more than 40,000 times.
In March 1944, when the offensive of the Red Army and Navy was in full swing, orders for naval officers and admirals were instituted. These orders were named after the outstanding Russian naval commanders Fyodor Ushakov and Pavel Nakhimov. The Order of Ushakov of two classes, the highest naval decoration, was to be awarded, under its statute, to "officers of the Navy of the USSR for, outstanding successes in working out, conducting and supporting sea fights and operations resulting in a victory over a numerically superior enemy force." Captain B.M.Khomich of the USSR Navy took part in designing the badge of the order. Order of Ushakov 1st Class No. 1 was given to Vice-Admiral VFTributs, Commander of the Order of the Red Banner Baltic Fleet. The same award, but of the 2nd Class, was awarded to Ushakov's descendant, Yu.F.Rall, who commanded the Kronstadt defence area during the Great Patriotic War.
Lieutenant-General P.A.Morgunov, Chief of the Coastal Defence of the Black Sea Fleet, was the first to be awarded the Order of Nakhimov 1st Class in May 1944. Earlier, in April 1944, the first Order of Nakhimov 2nd Class was conferred on Junior Lieutenant N.I.Vasin, a naval pilot of the Northern Fleet. The brave pilot, however, did not receive the order: he died a heroic death in May of that same year. Order of Nakhimov 1st Class No. 1 was presented to Captain N.E.Feldman and Order of Nakhimov 2nd Class No. 1, to Commander G.N.Slizky.
By an ordinance of November 8,1943, the Order of Victory, the highest Soviet military decoration, was instituted. The war was still on and part of the Soviet territory was still occupied by the enemy, yet all the Soviet people were confident of the imminent victory over Nazism. The Order of Victory was intended to be given to top-ranking commanders of the Red Army for a successful operation within the framework of one or several fronts resulting in a radical change of the situation in favour of the Soviet Armed Forces.
The five-pointed ruby star of the Order of Victory, adorned with 110 diamonds, was given to eleven outstanding Soviet military leaders in the years of the Great Patriotic War. Order of Victory No. 1 was presented to Marshal of the Soviet Union Georgi Zhukov. Besides him, this decoration was conferred (in the order of presentation) on A.M.Vasilevsky, J.V.Stalin, K.K.Rokossovsky, I.S.Konev, R.Ya.Malinovsky, F.I.Tolbukhin, L.A.Govorov, S.K.Timoshenko, A.I.Antonov, and K.A.Meretskov. Stalin, Zhukov and Vasilevsky were awarded the Order of Victory twice.
A number of noted military leaders of the countries of the anti-Hitler coalition were also decorated with the Order of Victory. Among them were Marshal Josip Broz Tito, Commander-in-Chief of the Yugoslav People's Liberation Army, General Michal Rola-Zymierski, Commander-in-Chief of the Polish Army, British Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, US General Dwight Eisenhower, and King Mihai I of Romania.
On the same day as the military leaders' Order of Victory, the Order of Glory, the most highly respected soldiers' decoration, was instituted. It could be awarded to soldiers, sergeants and sergeants-major, and also to junior lieutenants of the Air Force, for personal valour in battle. Both the qualifications for this order and the sequence of its presentation (first, the 3rd class, then the 2nd class and, finally, the 1st class) closely resemble the statute of prerevolutionary St George's cross - the most honorable soldiers' decoration at the time. Moreover, its designer, N.I. Moskalyov, deliberately used black-and-orange St George's ribbon as the ribbon of the Order of Glory.
Private S.T.Kuzin, a holder of two St George's crosses, fought in the ranks of the Red Army and was awarded two Orders of Glory for heroism displayed in the years of the Great Patriotic War. It was no mean feat to win this decoration, for, under its statute, it could be given, for example, to those who were the first to break into the enemy's positions, who saved the battle standard of the unit in a moment of danger, or who saved the life of their unit commander in a critical situation at the risk of their own lives. During the Great Patriotic War, about 2,500 servicemen, including four women - sniper N.Petrova, machine-gunner D.Stanilijene, nurse M.Nozdracheva, and aircraft gunner and signaller N.Zhurkina - were awarded all the three classes of the Order of Glory. Four of the holders of the Order of Glory of all the three classes - Senior Sergeant A.V.Alyoshin, Sergeant-Major of the Guards P.Kh.Dubinda, Sergeant N.I. Kuznetsov, and Junior Lieutenant of the Air Force I.G.Drachenko - were also awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union, the country's supreme military distinction.
There is a unit in the Soviet Army whose entire contingent was awarded the Order of Glory for a battle fought during the Great Patriotic War. This is the 1st Battalion of the Order of the Red Banner 215th Regiment of the Orders of the Red Banner, Lenin and Suvorov 77th Guards Chernigov Infantry Division. In battles for the liberation of Poland, on January 14, 1945, during a break-through of deep-echeloned Nazi defences on the left bank of the Vistula, the battalion commanded by Guards Major B.N.Yemelyanov, a 23-year-old Communist, captured three lines of the enemy trenches in a swift assault and held them until the approach of the main Soviet forces. All the servicemen of the battalion performed outstanding feats. More than thirty of them, who were wounded, refused to leave the battlefield and continued fighting the enemy. When an enemy machine-gun barred the advancing battalion's way, Senior Sergeant of the Guards I.Ye.Perov blocked the firing port with his body, repeating the heroic deed of Alexander Matrosov. All the soldiers, sergeants and sergeants-major of the battalion received the Order of Glory, the company commanders were given the Order of the Red Banner and the platoon commanders were awarded the Order of Alexander Nevsky. The commander of the battalion, B.N.Yemelyanov, was awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union.
Today the Soviet Army stands on guard of the peaceful work of the Soviet people and of the working people of the socialist community countries. On October 28, 1974, the Order "For Service to Motherland in the Armed Forces of the USSR" of three classes was instituted as a mark of esteem for servicemen who have distinguished themselves in combat and political training and who have shown valour, self-sacrifice and other merits while serving in the army.