Maker: Wächter & Lange
Product Description: This is a nice example of a packeted Ostmedaille by Wächter & Lange. It’s a quality version of this mass-produced award, complete with its original ribbon and packet of issue. The front of the medal retains nearly all of the original chemical darkening as well as the silvering to the rim and helmet. There is some typical bubbling to the original finish, due to age. The reverse of this packeted Ostmedaille shows some oxidation and patina buildup. The original ribbon is crisp and clean. The medal ring is stamped with the maker code “100” indicating manufacture by the firm of Rudolf Wächter & Lange. The original paper packet of issue shows some age and handling wear, but is complete, with no actual damage. The reverse of this brown paper packet is marked with a manufacturer stamp for W&L, matching the stamp on the medal ring. Overall, this packeted Ostmedaille is an excellent example, with a great finish, and with a desirable maker mark. These are getting harder to find.
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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