Main characteristics of the Order of Alexander Nevsky (1942-1991, USSR)
Author: Architect Igor Telyatnikov (1913–1998);
Date of establishment: July 29, 1942;
Size: 50mm x 50mm;
Weight: 40.8 1.7 g;
Material: Silver, enamel.
The Order of Alexander Nevsky became the youngest in a series of insignia established for the command staff of the Red Army. The idea to restore the order came personally to Joseph Stalin, who was the customer and a big fan of the film by Sergei Eisenstein, dedicated to the exploits of the great Russian commander. The film “Alexander Nevsky” was at first in disgrace, but since 1941, it was shown with a full house in all cinemas of the country in order to strengthen the fighting spirit of the people. The fact that the prince liberated the Russian land, including from the German invaders, became symbolic, so the work of the great director led the leader to think about a reward.
The Order of Alexander Nevsky was developed in a hurry. In June 1942, the task was entrusted to the technical committee of the SEU RKKA, which announced a competition for a whole group of artists, where the best medalists of the time competed. The specialists of the Institute “Tsentrvoenproekt”, which was located next to the institution, were involved in the work. The responsible task was entrusted to the head of the group of architects Igor Telyatnikov, who until then had never performed work of this kind.
The artist was given a day to prepare the sketches.
During this time, Igor Sergeevich created several rough drawings, where he depicted ancient Russian weapons: axes, swords, bows and arrows. The commission evaluated the presented models and recognized Telyatnikov’s work as the most successful. The architect was instructed to finalize the image to the final version.
The artist came to the conclusion that one cannot do without a portrait of the commander in the model, but the difficulty was that the museums were closed, and it was impossible to find the images of the commander in his lifetime in the library. Then Telyatnikov remembered Eisenstein’s film and went to the Mosfilm film studio, where he was handed a whole bundle of photographs of the leading actor Nikolai Cherkasov in costume and makeup. How the weapon of those times looked like, the master was able to clarify in the State Historical Museum, where he got on the pass of the People’s Commissariat of Defense.
On July 20, 1942, the artist was informed that the revised sketch was accepted, and it was necessary to decide on the technology for making the order. At a meeting in the Kremlin, Telyatnikov categorically spoke in favor of making the order in two parts. The chief engineer of the Mint believed that it would be cheaper and more convenient to issue the order in one stamp, although he agreed that the prototype looked more impressive. Thanks to Telyatnikov’s persistence, the commission approved the technique he proposed, despite the high cost of production.
For which they were awarded the Order of Alexander Nevsky
The Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR officially approved the order on July 27, 1942. The statute determined the exploits of the commanders of the Red Army, who deserved to be awarded. The list included: a good timing for an attack on enemy troops; destruction of enemy firing points; successful combat missions; destruction of the enemy’s engineering structures; effective amphibious operations.
Order number 1 was received by Ivan Ruban, one of the commanders of the marines covering the withdrawal of Soviet troops to Stalingrad. The commander managed to lure the fascists into a trap imitating a retreat, his soldiers retreated deep into the fortification, after which the enemies rushed into a frontal attack. Two companies of marines surrounded the enemy from the flanks and completely destroyed the advance guard of the attackers, including tanks and heavy equipment.
Variants of the Order of Alexander Nevsky
Small changes in the design of the order were made even in wartime. Since the award was intended for mid-rank commanders, the material was silver. The first samples in the amount of 300 copies were made immediately after approval, but it was decided not to hand them over due to the unfinished mount.
Between 1942 and 1943, 1500 medals were issued with an eyelet for a rectangular shoe, which were then used for awards. Then a pin was added to the reverse for convenience, but after a short time it was removed. Since 1943, the design of the award was changed again, replacing the inconvenient fastening with a screw. The order remained a prefabricated order until the end of 1944, it was made on three pins, in total, about 5 thousand cavaliers received such an option.
Expensive technology was used until the end of the war and was abandoned when too many rewards were required. Among the phalerists, the one-piece stamped sign is known under the marking 2 “b”. From 1944 to 1991, about 32 thousand awards were held, the classification of artifacts is well documented and does not cause difficulties. Currently, the design of the order has undergone global changes, its statute was approved in 2010.