Winter Battle in the East 1941–42 Medal

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Winter Battle in the East 1941–42 Medal II.jpg

The Winter Battle in the East 1941–42 Medal or Eastern Front Medal (German: Medaille „Winterschlacht im Osten 1941/42“ or Ostmedaille) was a military award which was created by ordinance of Adolf Hitler on 26 May 1942 in World War II.

Winter Battle in the East 1941–42 Medal I.jpg


Max Wünsche in the uniform of the Panzertruppe of the Waffen-SS with the ribbon of the Iron Cross 2nd Class and underneath it the ribbon of the Ostmedaille

It was instituted in May 1942 to mark the service and hardships faced by German personnel on the Eastern Front in the first months of Operation Barbarossa from November 1941 to April 1942. It was awarded to any member of the Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS, but also their allies

"in recognition of experience in the struggle against the Bolshevik enemy and the Russian winter within the period from 15 November 1941 to 15 April 1942."

Luftwaffe members had to have flown 30 combat sorties (Feindflüge) over the Front to qualify. It was, somewhat darkly, alsknown as the Frozen Meat Medal (Gefrierfleischorden). The award could be made by a battalion commander or a senior officer.

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 Krause[1]. 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 1944, over three million of the medals had been awarded.[2]


Qualification for the medal was by one of the following means:

  • 14 days service in active combat or 60 days in the area in a non-combat role
  • Wounded or killed in action ()
  • Injury related to climactic conditions, such as frostbite, that was severe enough to warrant the issue of a wound badge.


The medal was also awarded posthumously to any service member who died in the line of duty within the Soviet Union and handed out to the wife or family.


It was worn on a ribbon through the second buttonhole (if available under the Iron Cross 2nd Class) or on the medal clasp above the left breast pocket.


The award period was later extended, so that the award was finally only discontinued on 15 October 1944.

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