The Order of Victory (Russian: Орден "Победa", translit. 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. The last living recipient was King Michael of Romania, who died on 5 December 2017.
|Order of Victory|
The Order of Victory
|Awarded by the Soviet Union|
|Eligibility||Military Generals and Marshals only|
|Awarded for||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"|
|Status||No longer awarded|
|Established||November 8, 1943|
|First awarded||April 10, 1944|
|Last awarded||February 20, 1978 (was revoked)|
Ribbon of the Order of Victory
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 October 25, 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 November 8, 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 or immediately after 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 Brezhnev's award was revoked posthumously in 1989 for not meeting the requirements for the award.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 Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum in Abilene, Kansas, 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 the Museum of Yugoslav History 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 ruby. The rubies in the arms are synthetic, not because the synthetic gems were cheaper, but because they had to be of a uniform color, which could not be guaranteed with natural stones. 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):
|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 5, 1945||Bernard Montgomery||March 24, 1976|
|14||June 10, 1945||Dwight D. Eisenhower||March 28, 1969|
|15||June 26, 1945||Joseph Stalin||March 5, 1953||(2nd time)|
|16||July 6, 1945||Michael I of Romania||December 5, 2017|
|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)|
After the death of the recipient of the Order of Victory, it was to be given back to the state.