Product Description: This is a great example of the Eastern Front Medal, known to the Germans as the “Ostmedaille” or sometimes, to the soldiers, as the “Gefrierfleischorden” (Order of Frozen Meat). The front of the medal retains nearly all of the originally chemically darkened finish and about 60 percent of the original silver finish to the rim and helmet. There is some normal patination and a bit of dust that has built up in nooks and crannies. The reverse of the award has a matching patina as well as some typical fading and bubbling to the finish, commonly seen on these. This Eastern Front Medal also has the desirable feature of being manufacturer marked on the ribbon ring. The mark is deeply incised, and bears the manufacturer number “14” for L. Christian Lauer, in Nürnberg. The original ribbon is clean and retains bold and vibrant original color. There is a pin fitting to the reverse with two clutch back type fasteners. It’s unlikely that this medal was issued with these, but clear that someone put them there long ago. This is a complete and attractive example of the Eastern Front Medal, with more finish than is usually seen on these.
Historical Description: After the bitter first winter on the Eastern Front, in which the German Army faced a brutal Russian winter for which it was unprepared, the German military command decided to create a campaign award to recognize the sacrifices and achievements of the men who had endured these winter battles. The official German designation for this award was “Medaille Winterschlacht im Osten 1941/42” (Medal for the Winter Battle in the East 1941/42) which was often shortened to “Ostmedaille,” often called “Eastern Front Medal” in English. This campaign award was designed by SS-Unterscharführer Ernst Krauit, and officially instituted on May 26, 1942. To qualify for this award, a soldier had to have served within a specific geographic area that was regarded as the Eastern Front combat zone during this period. Soldiers had to have served in 14 days of combat, or to have had 60 days of continuous service within the combat zone, or to have been wounded in action. Luftwaffe pilots and air crew who flew sorties over the combat zone were also eligible. The medal could be awarded to combatants, non-combatants, and even civilians serving with the German armed forces. Early issue awards were made of a brass alloy, while later versions were struck from zinc. After the day that the medal was awarded, only the ribbon was worn on the field uniform, either through a buttonhole, or as a ribbon bar. Over three million of these medals had been awarded before issue of this award ceased in autumn 1944.
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