The exhibition is dedicated to military awards from the collection of the Moscow Kremlin Museums – orders that were awarded for valour on the battlefields, for military leadership talent, for bravery and courage in battle. The orders and medals on display demonstrate the continuity of the award policy at different stages of Russian state development.
The first section of the exhibition offers an insight into military insignia of the Russian Empire – these are rare awards with swards that were presented exclusively for military feats, viz the orders of St Andrew, St Alexander Nevsky, St Vladimir and St Anne. They are all distinguished for the highest level of artistic performance. Particular attention is paid to the Military Order of St George the Victorious, established in 1769 by Empress Catherine the Great to confer for courage and heroism in battle. It was the first decoration awarded notwithstanding a social class of the recipient. On display are different awards of St George, from the highest degrees of the order to insignia for the lower ranks – the soldier’s Cross of St George.
One can explore awards of Soviet Russia and the USSR created after 1917 and based on a new ideology and its symbols in the next section of the display. Before the Great Patriotic War and during its first years, soldiers and officers of the Red Army were awarded the Order of the Red Banner, Order of Lenin, Order of the Red Star, and medals "For Courage" and "For Combat Merit".
The tradition of awards divided into several classes was revived during World War II. In 1942-1944 there appeared the Order of the Great Patriotic War 1st and 2nd classes, orders in honour of the great commanders of the past A.Suvorov, M.Kutuzov, A.Nevsky, B.Khmelnitsky, as well as naval orders in honour of admirals F.Ushakov and P.Nakhimov.
The Order of Glory of three degrees on the St George’s ribbon was established in 1943 to confer private soldiers and sergeants of the Red Army, which became the successor of the pre-revolutionary Badge of the Military Order of St George (St George Cross in four classes for lower ranks), bestowed for the courage shown in battle and military service loyalty.
During the Second World War, military decorations were not only the insignia but an important propaganda tool. The highest military Order "Victory" was established long before the end of the war, on November 8, 1943. It was a sign of triumph and a great feat of all people, a priceless work of art created by Soviet jewellers, having no analogues in the world. The exhibition presents one of the Orders of Victory, which belonged to the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Generalissimo of the Soviet Union I.V. Stalin, complete with award certificates confirming awards, as well as the Order "Victory" of the commander of the 2nd Belorussian Front, Marshal of the Soviet Union K.K. Rokossovsky, and the Commander of the 1st Far Eastern Front, Marshal of the Soviet Union K.A. Meretskov.
A special part of the display are medals of the USSR for major military operations, for the defence and liberation of cities and territories of the Soviet Union, for the capture and liberation of European capitals, and the victory over Germany and Japan.
The final section of the exhibition shows the military awards of the Russian Federation, which combined the traditions and distinctive features of both order systems, the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. These include the "Gold Star" medal of Hero of the Russian Federation, which has a common history with a similar medal of Hero of the Soviet Union, as well as the order "For Merit to the Fatherland", established in 1994 in four degrees, repeating the motto of the Imperial Order of St Vladimir "Benefit, Honor and Glory". Knights of the order are awarded the badge of this order with swords for military merit, as it was before 1917. There is also a Military Order of St George, restored in 2000 in all its four classes with the Badge of the Military Order of St George (Cross of St George) on display.Read more