Introduction by Sebastian Bianchi
A wide variety of awards that recognized particularly successful or arduous campaigns were presented to the men of the Wehrmacht during World War II. This line of decorations highlights battles that ranged from the successful 1936-39 Spanish expedition (the Kondor Legion) to the last desperate defensive battles. In these last days of the war, men often resisted in isolated, bypassed pockets where determination overshadowed reality.
The actual characteristics of the pieces varied as much as the battles they immortalized, and the quality can be said to reflect the changing fortunes of war; The first campaign award presented, the Spanish Cross, was an exquisite piece of craftsmanship while the cufftitles and shields created in the waning days of the conflict were crudely put together by the encircled forces.
The commemorative medals, shields, and cufftitles, which celebrated the stamina and courage of the German soldier, are the focus of this section.
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