The Third Reich Bravery and Merit Decoration for Eastern Peoples, Rolf Michaelis

The Third Reich Bravery and Merit Decoration for Eastern Peoples, Rolf Michaelis

I’m not entirely sure what to make of this book. It looks at a military award specifically created to be issued to the eastern European and Soviet soldiers fighting for the Germans, who weren’t considered qualified to receive standard German awards. It was a fairly low level award, roughly equivalent to the Iron Cross, and probably issued in quite large numbers - it could be issued by quite low ranking officers and perhaps as many as 100,000 examples of the various grades were issued.

The first two fifths of the book covers the history of the award, looking at the recruitment of eastern troops, the way in the which the award was issued, the various types and grades of award, and the changes in rules that eventually saw eastern troops quality for the Iron Cross and German troops serving with the eastern troops qualifying for the Decoration for Eastern Peoples. The last three fifths is made up of a plates section, generally with one plate per page. This includes pictures of the medal itself, a sketch of the Tsarist award it was probably modelled on, pictures of soldiers wearing the award and examples of the associated paperwork.

There is nothing wrong with this book. It covers its topic well, and acknowledges the terrible nature of the German war effort in the East and the appalling treatment of Soviet POWs that probably acted as a major recruiting tool. To me it feels like it would be better as a chapter in a book with wider scope, but if you are interested in this award then this book will probably answer your questions.

The Eastern European Volunteers
The Decoration for Bravery and Merit for Eastern Peoples

Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 56
Publisher: Schiffer
Year: 2014

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