Republic of Poland 1918-1945
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Order of the White Eagle

see Republic of Poland since 1990

Order Virtuti Militari

see Republic of Poland since 1990

Order of Poland Restored (Polonia Restituta)

see Republic of Poland since 1990

State Decorations

1.Cross with swords
2.Medal [reverse]

Independence Cross
Independence Medal

(Krzyz Niepodleglosci)
(Medal Niepodleglosci)

Instituted on October 10, 1930. Conferred to those individuals who took active part in the struggle of independence of Poland before and during World War I, as well as between 1918 and 1921 (excluding Polish-Soviet war). It was conferred in two grades with and without swords, with a bronze Independence Medal as a lower grade. The cross with swords could be bestowed on those who participated in an armed struggle for the cause of Independence before World War I (e.g. veterans of the 1863 uprising against Russia), or those who commanded such a struggle. Although formally a decoration not an order, the Independence Cross took a prominent place in the Polish decoration system. The cross took place before the Officer class of the Order Polonia Restituta, while the medal preceded the silver Cross of Merit. The recipients of both the cross and the medal enjoyed numerous privileges.

Badge: black enameled Greek cross 42 x 42 mm with narrow arms and a gilt pin-stripe along the center. On the horizontal pin-stripes runs the motto: BOJOWNIKOM : NIEPODLEGLOSCI (to the fighters of Independence). On a square gilt shield in the center there is a stylized crowned eagle. The reverse is plain. The Independence Cross with Swords is surmounted by a pair of crossed gilt swords.

Medal: bronze 35 mm of diameter. Obverse: an allegoric figure of three dragons, representing the three partitors of Poland, pierced with swords; around runs the motto: BOJOWNIKOM : NIEPODLEGLOSCI. The reverse shows letters RP.

Ribbon: 37 mm black with red side stripes. Since World War II those awarded with the Cross with Swords could unofficially wear gilt crossed swords on the ribbon bar.

Cross of Valor

see Republic of Poland since 1990

[Cross obverse]
1.Medal obverse (market copy)

Volunteer Cross for War 1918-1921
Volunteer Medal for War 1918-1921

(Krzyz Ochotniczy za Wojne 1918-1921)
(Medal Ochotniczy za Wojne 1918-1921)

Instituted by act of Parliament of June 15, 1939. The cross would be conferred to all volunteers in the war of 1918-1921 who were awarded with or Cross of Valor, were wounded or killed in action, or served voluntarily for at least three months' time. The medal could be conferred for one month voluntary service.

Cross badge: silver Greek cross, 42 x 42, similar to the Independence Cross. Obverse: the years 1918 and 1921 on the upper and lower arms respectively; and the inscription OCHOTNIKOWI : WOJENNEMU (to a war volunteer) through the horizontal ones. The square central medallion is enameled white and bears a crowned eagle. Reverse: plain.

Medal badge: silver medal, 38 mm of diameter. Obverse: a crowned eagle, circumscribed OCHOTNIKOWI : WOJENNEMU. Both words are separated by the dates 1918 on the left and 1921 on the right. Reverse: a Polish soldier holding a rifle, surrounded by an oak wreath.

Ribbon: 37 mm, three stripes of red of equal width, separated by two narrow white ones.

Note: Due to WWII neither the cross nor medal were ever awarded. The items on market are exclusively copies. The cross is identical to the Cross for War 1918-1921 instituted 1990, except for the altered inscription.

Cross of Merit for Bravery
Cross of Merit (with Swords)
Cross of Merit

see Republic of Poland since 1990


Army of Central Lithuania Cross of Merit

(Krzyz Zaslugi Wojsk Litwy Srodkowej)

Instituted on February 25, 1922 by Vilnius Parliament , approved on March 27, 1922; included in the system of Polish awards in 1926. Conferred to members of the Polish troops which participated in the battles of Vilnius between October 9 and November 19, 1920.

Badge obverse: bronze cross, 43 x 43 mm, with concave arm sides and bases, similar to Cross of Valor. In the middle there is an eagle with spread wings, holding a shield with the Lithuanian coat of arms in his claws. The arms bear the following inscription: WILNO (Vilnius - upper arm), 9 X (left), 19 XI (right), 1920 (lower). Horizontal arms of the reverse bear the inscription LITWA : SRODKOWA (central Lithuania); the vertical ones depict two swords. In the middle there is a circle with the award number. Around the arms there is a narrow laurel wreath.

Ribbon: 37 mm, green with seven narrow red-yellow pinstripes.

1.Cross obverse [reverse]
2.Decoration obverse [reverse]

Cross on Silesian Ribbon of Valor and Merit

(Krzyz na Slaskiej Wstedze Walecznosci i Zaslugi)

Instituted by Polish authorities in Upper Silesia on May 30, 1921, included in the Polish award system on April 22, 1922. Conferred in two grades as a reward for participants in any of the three uprisings against Germany (1919, 1920 1921). The first grade was awarded for active participation in the struggle, the second to those individuals who aided the insurgents.

Badge: silver cross pattée, 33 x 33 mm. Obverse: a Silesian eagle with an open Polish crown on his breast. The arms bear the inscription POWST. (upper) : GORNY (left) : SLASK (right): 1921 (lower - uprising, Upper Silesia, 1921 ). On the reverse the inscription is as follows: DZIEL (left) : NYM (right - to the brave). Some copies have the additional inscription on the vertical arms: 5 P.P. : RYBN. (5th Infantry Regiment of the city of Rybnik). In the center there is a laurel wreath.

Ribbon: 40 mm, light blue with broad white side stripes and dark red edges. 1st grade of the cross was denoted by a small silver five pointed star on the ribbon.

Note 1: originally it was a "ribbon only" decoration, worn in the second buttonhole of the tunic; the badge was added as late as in 1931.

Note 2: the cross is sometimes confused with a commemorative decoration of the same name (authorized to wear in 1927), conferred in two classes and worn on an identical ribbon.

1.Obverse (1920)
2.Obverse (1930)

Cross of Polish Soldiers from America

(Krzyz Zolnierzy Polskich z Ameryki)

Instituted by order of Jozef Pilsudski in 1920, to honor Polish volunteers from Canada and U.S.A. who came to Poland (mostly via France) to defend the newly emerged Republic. In 1930 a smaller and better finished cross was introduced.

Badge 1920: bronze arrow cross, 55 x 55 mm, with flames between the arms holding the names of the places where American volunteers were present SZAMPANIA (Champagne) : LWOW : WOLYN : POMORZE (Pomerania). The arms themselves bear the following inscription SWOIM / ZOLNIERZOM / Z : AME : RYKI : OSWOBO / DZONA / POLSKA (the liberated Poland to her soldiers from America). The reverse is blank.

Badge 1930: a smaller gilt cross (40 x 40 mm), of the same design, with the arms covered with white enamel.

Ribbon: half white half red, originally 25 mm, put through the holes in the middle of the badge; since 1930 - 38 mm.



Life Saving Medal

(Medal Za ratowanie ginacych)

Instituted by President's decree of March 22, 1928. Conferred in a single class for saving or attempting to save human life at the risk of one's own. The number of awards to a single individual was not limited.

Badge: medal of silver, 35 mm of diameter. Obverse: a crowned Polish eagle, circumscribed RZECZPOSPOLITA POLSKA (Republic of Poland), with a small five pointed star below. Reverse: An inscription ZA / RATOWANIE / GINACYCH (for life saving) in an oak wreath.

Ribbon: 40 mm, white with a red central stripe and red edges. Each subsequent award was denoted by adding a small bronze five pointed star to the ribbon.


Commemorative Medal for War 1918-1921

(Medal pamiatkowy za Wojne 1918-1921)

Instituted by Government Decree of September 21, 1928. Awarded for at least 3 months' service with a unit participating actively in military operations against soviet Russia in the war of 1918-1921 (volunteers - 2 months; non-combat units - 5 months). Those wounded or injured in war obtained the medal irrespective of the length of service. The medal could also be conferred on civilians who aided the army.

Badge: bronze medal 35 mm of diameter. Obverse: a crowned eagle with the Order Virtuti Militari on its breast and the years 1918 : 1921 on both sides. Reverse: an inscription POLSKA / SWEMU / OBRONCY (Poland to Her defender) in a circular oak wreath.

Ribbon: 37 mm garter blue with black side stripes (colors of Virtuti Militari), claret side stripes flanked by white (colors of the Cross of Valor) and blue edges.

1.1st class obverse

Academy Laurel

(Wawrzyn Akademicki)

Instituted by decision of Minister of Public Enlightenment of February 21, 1934. Awarded in two grades, for merit for Polish culture and Polish literature in particular. The first grade was conferred to writers, poets, journalists and public persons who distinguished themselves by using beautiful language in word and script. The second class was awarded to individuals for popularizing literature - translators, editors, booksellers, librarians, etc.

Badge: gold or silver openwork rosette, 38 mm of diameter, in the form of a stylized cross of six arms. Central medallion is oval, enameled, and bears the letters AL (Akademia Literatury - academy of literature); the enamel is red in the gold decoration, and yellow in the silver one. The reverse is plain.

Ribbon: 37 mm, green with white pinstripes on either side.


10 Years of Independence Commemorative Medal

(Medal 10-lecia Odzyskania Niepodleglosci)

Instituted by Government Decree of September 27, 1928, to commemorate 10th anniversary of Independence. Awarded to all citizens of Poland who between 1918 and 1928 either had served in the Polish Armed Forces or for at least 5 years had worked in state or local government or other public institutions.

Badge: bronze medal 35 mm of diameter. Obverse: head of Marshal Jozef Pilsudski, turned left. Reverse: allegorical figure of a ploughman looking after an oak tree and removing a weed, with the years 1918-1928 below.

Ribbon: 38 mm light blue (the color of the Order of the White Eagle).


3rd of May Medal

(Medal 3-go Maja)

Instituted by Government Decree of April 25, 1925 to commemorate the National Holiday of May 3rd (on May 3rd, 1792 the first constitution of Poland was passed). The decoration was initially planned to be conferred annually on May 3rd, for merit in many areas of state and social life; it was eventually awarded only once in 1925.

Badge: medal of silver 30 mm of diameter. Obverse: Polish crowned eagle with the circumscription RZECZPOSPOLITA POLSKA (Republic of Poland). Reverse: the inscription 3 MAJ / 1925 and the number below.

Ribbon: 38 mm, of alternate wide horizontal stripes of white and red. The ribbon would be worn at first in a triangular manner.

Note: this medal was awarded in small number of copies and is now rare.

Long Service Medal

see Republic of Poland since 1990

© Lukasz Gaszewski 1997,

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