On May 20, 1942 by the Decree of the Supreme Soviet Presidium of the USSR was established the Order of the Patriotic War of two classes. It was the very first award instituted during the Great Patriotic War and the first Soviet order that had classes division.
Design variants of the Order were developed by the artists Sergey Dmitriyev (the author of drawings of Medals For service in battle’ and ‘For courage’, 20 years of RKKA – Russian Communist Red Army) and Alexander Kuznetsov. Out of thirty variants were chosen two drawings by each artist according to which were made specimen copies of the order. The basis for the future award had served the project of Kuznetsov. However the crossed swords were replaced by a rifle and sabre; the Soviet Union coat of arms – by hammer and sickle. As to the legend ‘Patriotic War’ it was borrowed from Dmitryev’s variant.
The Order’s statute said that it is established for awarding ‘those who distinguished themselves in battles for the Soviet Motherland in Patriotic War against the occupants. It is awarded to soldiers, officers of the Red Army, Navy, NKVD troops and partisan detachments having displayed courage and fortitude in battles for the Soviet Motherland as well as servicemen who contributed to the success of military operations of our army’.
The Order of the Patriotic War had two classes. The First Class was the highest one. For the first time in history of the Soviet award system were stated particular exploits for which the distinguished men could be nominated for the award.
The Order of the Patriotic War featured a red enamel five-pointed star, made of silver, with straight rays in the background, and crossed sabre and rifle. The rays in the background were golden for 1st Class and silver for 2nd Class.
The central disc had a golden hammer and sickle on a red enamel background, surrounded by a white enamel ring with the words ОТЕЧЕСТВЕННАЯ ВОЙНА ("Patriotic War") and a little golden star at the bottom of the ring. The red star and the white ring have golden rims. At the background of golden and silver stars’ rays there are the ends of rifle and sabre crossed behind the red star.
The ribbon for the Order was silk and watered of claret red color with lengthwise red stripes: one stripe in the middle of the ribbon for 1st Class; two stripes at the borders – for 2nd Class. During 35 years the Order was the only one which stayed in the family of the fallen or dead as a memory of his exploit in the Great Patriotic War (later this right started to apply to other state awards).
The first holders of the Order were the Soviet artillerists. Under the Decree of the Supreme Soviet Presidium of USSR of June 2, 1942 the Order of the Patriotic War 1st Class was awarded to captain Krikly I. I., junior political instructor Statsenko I. K. and senior sergeant Smirnov A. V. In May of 1942 the division under the commandment of captain Krikly during two fighting days destroyed 32 enemy tanks near Kharkov.
Among the first holders of the Order of the Patriotic War 2nd Class were also the artillerists who had distinguished themselves during the battles of Kharkov line of advance: Sergeants Zharko S. T., Nemfira M. G., Nesterenko P. V., servicemen Grigoryev N. I., Kulinets A. I., Petrosh I. P.
During the war the Order of the Patriotic War was awarded to 1 million 276 people; 325.000 of them received the Order 1st Class.
In 1985 the Order was restored as a memorial award for veterans.
The total number of holders of the Order of the Patriotic War (both military and jubilee) by January 1, 1992 was 2 487 098 for 1st Class; 6 688 497 for 2nd Class.
Lit.: Горбачёв А. Н. Многократные кавалеры орденов СССР. М., 2006; Гребенникова Г. И., Каткова Р. С. Ордена и медали СССР. М., 1982; Дуров В. А. Русские и советские боевые награды. М., 1990; Дуров В. А. Награды Великой Отечественной. М., 1993; Дуров В. А. Отечественные награды. 1918-1991. М., 2005; Колесников Г. А., Рожков А. М. Ордена и медали СССР. М., 1983; Савичев Н. П. Первый орден Великой Отечественной войны. Киев, 1985; Сборник законодательных актов о государственных наградах СССР. М., 1984; Шишков С. С., Музалевский М. В. Ордена и медали СССР. Владивосток, 1996.
From the Presidential library materials: