Republic of Poland since 1990
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Commemorative Decorations Awarded until 1999

This section deals with the decorations of commemorative nature, instituted in People's Poland for national uprisings and World War II. According to the Act of Odrers and Decorations of October 16, 1992 these would be conferred until May 8, 1995. This deadline was subsequently extended until May 8, 1999.


Partisan Cross

(Krzyz Partyzancki)

Instituted by decree of the National Council (Krajowa Rada Narodowa) of October 26, 1945. Conferred in a single grade on commanders and members of Polish Resistance movement against nazi Germany in WW2.

Badge: gilt Greek cross, 38 x 38 mm. The obverse depicts a non crowned eagle in the center; the arms bear the inscription: ZA (upper), POLSKE (left), WOLNOSC (right), I / LUD (lower arm - for Poland, Liberty and the People). The reverse has the year 1939 on the upper, and 1945 on the lower arm; through the horizontal ones runs the inscription PARTYZANTOM (to partisans).

Ribbon: 37 mm, green with black side stripes.

Note: for political reasons this decoration was seldom bestowed on members of the Home Army.


Polish Armed Forces in the West Military Action Cross

(Krzyz Czynu Bojowego Polskich Sil Zbrojnych na Zachodzie)

Instituted by act of Parliament of May 17, 1989. Awarded to former members of the Polish Armed Forces in the West, subordinated to the Government in Exile in London, who participated in any of the campaigns.

Badge: silver Maltese cross with the arms in the form of the stylized letters V (victory), 42 x 42 mm. In the center there is a crowned Polish eagle sitting on the Amazon shield, as worn by soldiers of the Polish Armed Forces. The reverse bears an inscription 1939 / POLSKIE / SILY ZBROJNE / NA ZACHODZIE / 1945 (Polish Armed Forces in the West).

Ribbon: 36 mm, half white half dark red central stripe and very wide edge stripes in the colors of light blue (inner), black (middle) and green (outer), representing the Air Force, Navy and Army respectively. Each campaign is denoted by a silver bar with the campaign's name, attached to the ribbon. The names of the campaigns are as follows: NARWIK (Narvik), LAGARDE, MAICHE-St. HIPPOLYTE, BITWA O ANGLIE (Battle of Britain), TOBRUK, MONTE CASSINO, ANKONA (Ancona), FALAISE-CHAMBOIS, AXEL, ARNHEM, BREDA, BOLONIA (Bologna), WILHELMSHAVEN, DZIALANIA BOJOWE LOTNICTWA (Air Force war operations), BITWY I KONWOJE MORSKIE (sea battles and convoys).

Note: This is the only Polish decoration with bars with campaign names.

[Reverse until 1990]

Auschwitz Cross

(Krzyz Oswiecimski)

Instituted by the State Council (Rada Panstwa) on March 14, 1985. Conferred to honor prisoners of Auschwitz and other nazi concentration camps established by the Germans in WW2, first of all to members of the camp Resistance. It could be awarded to other countries' citizens and could be awarded posthumously. A recipient's conduct while imprisoned must have been honorable.

Badge: silver Greek cross of wide arms, 42 x 42 mm. Obverse: barb wires and camp poles; the year 1939 on the left, 1945 - on the right arm. In the center there is a red enameled triangle with the letter P, as worn by Polish nationals imprisoned in the camps. The reverse bears the inscription RP (PRL until 1990) / WIEZNIOM / HITLEROWSKICH / OBOZOW KONCENTRACYJNYCH (People's Poland to prisoners of nazi concentration camps).

Ribbon: 40 mm, of eleven alternate stripes of blue and gray (colors of clothing worn by prisoners).


War Medal 1939

(Medal Za Udzial w Wojnie Obronnej 1939)

Instituted by act of Parliament of July 7, 1981. Conferred on veterans of the Polish Army, Frontier Corps, members of National Defense and of other groups defending Poland in September/October 1939.

Badge: silver medal, 40 mm of diameter. Obverse: the year 1939 of stylized digits with bullet holes, surmounted by a crowned eagle with an Amazon shield, as worn by the Polish Army in 1939; medal surface is granular and coarse. The reverse bears an inscription ZA UDZIAL / W / WOJNIE / OBRONNEJ / OJCZYZNA (for participation in defense war, the Country); the last line is separated by two flatly crossed swords.

Ribbon: 40 mm, gray with a broad claret central stripe, flanked by narrower white ones (colors of the Cross of Valor).

Note: for the reasons unknown it was this medal, not the Cross of the September Campaign that continued to be awarded.


Silesian Uprising Cross

(Slaski Krzyz Powstanczy)

Instituted by decree of the National Council of October 18, 1946. Awarded in a single grade to soldiers of any of the three Silesian uprisings against Germany of 1919, 1920 and 1921. Also conferred on members of the Polish Resistance in Silesia in the years 1939-1945.

Badge: silver cross pattée with granular arm surface, 35 x 35 mm. Obverse: the year 1921 (beginning of the 3rd uprising - left arm), 1939 (right), 1945 (lower arm). Medallion: light blue, encircled by a stylized wreath, with a silver Silesian eagle inside. Medallion reverse non enameled with the letters KRN (National Council) / 1946, circumscribed BOJOWNIKOM SLASKA (to the fighter for Silesia).

Ribbon: 36 mm, light blue with white (inner) and dark red (outer) edges; in the center there is a wide stripe of green, red, white, red, green, flanked by white pinstripes (combined colors of the Cross on Silesian Ribbon of Valor and Merit and the Order of the Grunwald Cross).


Great Poland Uprising Cross

(Wielkopolski Krzyz Powstanczy)

Instituted by decree of the State Council of February 1, 1957. Awarded to vererans of the Great Poland insurrection (powstanie wielkopolskie) of 1918 against Germany, as the result of which the city of Poznan and the area of the former Grand Duchy of Poznan returned to Poland.

Badge: bronze Greek cross, 36 x 36 mm, similar to the Independence Cross. Obverse: the year 1918 on the left, and 1919 on the right arm. Vertical arms hold a pointed down sword. In the center there is a white enameled, non crowned eagle on red background, encircled by an oak wreath. Reverse: the letters PRL (RP since 1991) in the center, circumscribed by the inscription POWSTANCOM : WIELKOPOLSKIM (to the insurgents of Great Poland).

Ribbon: 36 mm, dark blue with narrow red side stripes.


Warsaw Uprising Cross

(Warszawski Krzyz Powstanczy)

Instituted by act of Parliament of July 7, 1981. Awarded to all military and civilian participants of the Warsaw Uprising of 1944. Conferred also on Poles and foreigners who gave the uprising their support.

Badge: silver Greek cross with channeled arma, 42 x 42 mm. Obverse: the date 1 VIII on the left and 1944 on the right arm (the date of the outbreak of the uprising). The center holds a white and red arm band worn by the insurgents with a superimposed "anchor" - combined letters PW (Polska walczaca - fighting Poland), the symbol of Polish Resistance. Reverse: granular, with a laurel wreath in the center and the inscription POWSTANCOM WARSZAWY (to the insurgents of Warsaw) through the horizontal arms.

Ribbon: 40 mm, half white half red central stripe and very wide edge stripes in the colors of Virtuti Militari.


Battle of Lenino Cross

(Krzyz Bitwy pod Lenino)

Instituted by act of Parliament of May 26, 1988. Awarded to veterans of the Battle of Lenino (now in Byelorussia), fought on October 12, 1943 - the first battle in which the troops of the Polish People's Army, created 1943 in the Soviet Union took place. October 12 was celebrated in People's Poland as a memorial day of the People's Army.

Badge: silver Greek cross, 42 x 42 mm, superimposed on another Greek one of slightly shorter and wider arms. In the center there is a non crowned eagle, of the same shape as was worn by soldiers of 1st Kosciuszko Infantry Division, which took part in the battle. The reverse holds the inscription 12 X / LENINO / 1943.

Ribbon: yellow gold with dark blue edges (colors of 1st Infantry Division), with a central stripe of white and red.


Warsaw Medal 1939-1945

(Medal Za Warszawe 1939-1945)

Instituted on October 26, 1945 by decree of Krajowa Rada Narodowa (National Council). Conferred to Warsaw defenders in 1939, members of Resistance movement in the Warsaw area (for political reasons most members of the Home Army were excluded), insurgents of 1944, and liberators of 1945.

Badge: bronze gilt medal, 33 mm of diameter. Obverse: a siren (symbol of the city), holding a shield and sable, circumscribed 1939 : 1945 : ZA WARSZAWE (for Warsaw); the dates and letters are separated by two symbolic flames. Reverse: an inscription RP / OBRONCOM / BOJOWNIKOM / OSWOBODZICIELOM (to the defenders, warriors, liberators), all words being underlined; below there is an oak leaf cluster.

Ribbon: 35 mm, red with yellow side stripes (colors of the city).


Oder, Neisse and Baltic Medal

(Medal Za Odre, Nyse i Baltyk)

Instituted on October 26, 1945 by decree of Krajowa Rada Narodowa (National Council). Conferred to soldiers of the People's Army, operating in the former German territory which would become Polish after WWII.

Badge: bronze gilt medal, 33 mm of diameter. Obverse: a map of Poland with the cities of Gdansk, Szczecin, Wroclaw and Warsaw marked on it. The map is surmounted by a non-crowned eagle and circumscribed ZA ODRE-NYSE-BALTYK (for Oder, Neisse, Baltic). Reverse: an inscription RP / ZWYCIEZCOM (to the victors) / III.1945 / IV.1945, all words being underlined.

Ribbon: 35 mm, dark blue with light blue side stripes.

Victory and Freedom Medal 1945

see People's Republic of Poland 1944-89

© Lukasz Gaszewski 1997,
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