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H099062 DEMJANSK CAMPAIGN SHIELD, AWARD DOCUMENT. (Urkunde für Demjanskschild)

BACKGROUND: The bestowal of all awards during the Third Reich era was regulated by the Statutes of Titles, Orders and Decorations which was originally revised on January 30TH 1934, with numerous additional revisions as new awards and decorations were introduced. The regulations prescribed the criteria for bestowal and the specific form of wearing all conferred decorations and awards. Regulations of July 1ST 1937 dictated that the sole, legal, authority for bestowal of all decorations and awards lay with Adolf Hitler and the Reichs Chancellery. Although the Statutes of Titles, Orders and Decorations held the ultimate decision in all matters of awards the OKW, Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, (High Command of the Armed Forces), was given control over the bestowal regulations of all military awards as long as they conformed to the appropriate statute. When bestowed the awards were usually accompanied by a "Vorläufiges Besitzzeugnis", (Preliminary Possession Certificate), followed by the official award presentation document. Depending on the specific award, bestowal authorization could be initiated by the commander of a divisional or smaller unit and the appropriate award information was entered into the recipients Soldbuch, (Pay Book), and his permanent Wehrstammbuch, (Military Service Book), which remained in the possession of the issuing recruitment authority. This example is for bestowal of a Demjansk Campaign shield. The Demjansk Campaign shield was instituted by Adolf Hitler on April 25TH 1943 as the fourth, officially sanctioned, campaign shield and was intended for award to personnel who participated in the defence and the eventual break out of the besieged Russian village of Demjansk between February 8TH 1941 and April 21ST 1942. The shield was awarded to roughly 100,000 personnel of the 2ND Army Corps, Organization Todt, Russian volunteers, Waffen-SS, (Armed-SS), and Luftwaffe, (Air-Force), personnel who served in the area for sixty or more days, were wounded, or flew fifty flights over the area during the engagement. The shields were bestowed to eligible personnel by the Commander of Army Group North, General of Infantry Walter Graf von Brockdorff-Ahlefeldt and were to be worn on the upper left sleeve of the uniform with the color of the backing material to match that of the uniform it was to be worn on. Somewhat interestingly, although common sense, eligible personnel were allegedly permitted to receive up to five shields, presumably due to the way the shields were to be permanently affixed to the tunic, which would enable recipients to wear the shield on different tunics for the required forms of dress, as ordered. Lists of eligible recipients were to be forwarded to the appropriate authority by December 31ST 1943 and further bestowal of the shields was discontinued, as per regulations, on July 4TH 1944.

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Roughly, 8 1/4" x 5 7/8", (21 cm x 14.7 cm), heavy, white, cardstock document with black printed Latin script and typed and inkstamped particulars. The script indicates the document is a, "Besitzzeugnis", (Possession Certificate), issued to a, "Feldwebel", serving with, "3./G.R. 6", (3RD Company, 6TH Grenadier Regiment), who was awarded a Demjansk Campaign shield on, "31. Dezember 1943". The award was rendered at, "K.G.St.", (Corps Command Post), and has the, inkstamped, facsimile, authorizing signature of, "General der Infanterie", Walter Graf von Brockdorff-Ahlefeldt and the additional authorizing signature of an, "Oberleutnant", with the, 2ND Army corps inkstamp. The document is in overall good condition with minor age yellowing and one, fair sized, tear that has a post-war applied taped repair to the reverse.Of Note: The 6TH Grenadier Regiment was an integral component of the 30TH Infantry/Grenadier Division which was one of the five German divisions which were encircled at Demjansk. The 30TH Infantry/Grenadier Division was formed in 1935 and participated in the Polish campaign and successfully beat back a large Polish break through attempt in which the commanding officer, Generalleutnant Kurt von Briesen lost an arm. Von Briesen was rewarded by Hitler for his part in the Polish campaign by being the first divisional commander to be awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross on October 27TH 1939. The division went on to participate in the invasion of Belgium in 1940 and was transferred to the eastern front in 1941 where it spent the remainder of the war surrendering to the Soviets in the Courland pocket in May 1945. Of Note: Brockdorff-Ahlefeldt was awarded a Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross on July 15TH 1941 and was the 103RD recipient of the Oak-Leaves to the Knight’s Cross on June 23RD 1942. In November 1942 Brockdorff-Ahlefeldt fell seriously ill, allegedly as a consequence of the stress of the Demjansk battles, and was hospitalized in Germany at the Zehlendorf military hospital in Berlin where he died on May 9TH 1943. Of Interest. Presumably as a result of the order to have the list of eligible recipients submitted by December 31ST 1943, most of the award documents for bestowal of the Demjansk Campaign shield are dated December 31ST 1943 which also explains why Brockdorff-Ahlefeldt’s authorizing signature is always a facsimile, as he was already deceased.

GRADE ***3/4                             PRICE $268.00

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