Condition: Near Mint
Maker: 61 (Rudolf Karneth & Söhne)
Product Description: This Eastern Front Medal 61 is a beautiful example. These medals are not rare, but to find one in this condition is really challenging. This one is made of zinc, as all of these were. Usually, the original finish evaporates from the zinc base metal over time. This one is an exception that retains virtually all of the original finish, it still appears almost as it did when it was new. The front features smooth, clean surfaces, with all of the original darkening remaining on the central roundel and grenade, and full silver finish to the rim and helmet, with just a hint of age toning. The reverse has just a very tiny amount of bubbling and wear to the finish. The suspension ring is maker marked “61” indicating manufacture by the firm of Rudolf Karneth & Söhne. This Eastern Front Medal 61 comes with its correct original ribbon. Overall, the condition is near mint. It’s a high-quality example of this iconic award, that would be hard to upgrade.
Historical Description: The Eastern Front Medal (Medaille “Winterschlacht im Osten” 1941/42) was a German military campaign decoration awarded to all Axis personnel who met specific criteria pertaining to duty on the Eastern Front between November 15, 1941, and April 15, 1942. This was the bitter, horrible first winter on the Eastern Front, in which millions of men who were unprepared for the brunt of the Russian winter were forced to fight in often inhuman conditions. The award was designed by SS-Unterscharführer Ernst Krauit. The obverse featured a striking Wehrmacht eagle on a massive, static swastika, surmounted by a Wehrmacht steel helmet and hand grenade. Early examples of this award were tombak, with later issues being struck from zinc. The medal had a chemically darkened finish, with silvering on the rim and to the helmet and hand grenade motif. It was suspended from a red, white and black striped ribbon. On field uniforms, only the ribbon was worn; the medal could be worn as part of a medal bar on dress uniforms. To earn this award, soldiers had to have served within a specific geographic region that had been officially designated as the area of the Eastern Front. Within this region, to qualify for the award, ground soldiers had to have experienced 14 days of active combat, or 60 days of continuous service in a combat zone. Soldiers who were wounded in combat or who suffered frostbite severe enough to merit the award of a Wound Badge were also eligible for the Eastern Front Medal. Luftwaffe soldiers had to have flown 30 combat sorties over the Front to qualify. In 1943, the award criteria were expanded to allow for awards to non-combatants who had served within the area of the Front. By the time award of the Eastern Front Medal ceased in September 1944, over three million of the medals had been awarded.
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