People's Republic of Poland 1944-1989
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Order of Builders of People's Poland

(Order Budowniczych Polski Ludowej)

Instituted by act of Parliament of July 2, 1949. The highest award of People's Poland, substituted the Order of the White Eagle. Conferred in a single class, exclusively on Polish citizens for most outstanding merit in the field of economy, education, science, arts, culture, defense, and political and social activity. The order could also be awarded to an organization or territorial unit. A person decorated with the order had the title of a Builder of People's Poland. Awarded in 1984 for the last time and discontinued formally in 1992.

Badge: a rosette of gold, 53 mm of diameter, of eight petals covered with white (inner) and red (outer) enamel. Between the petals there are gold rays. A white encircled blue medallion: depicts a gold male figure carrying a hammer and a red banner. The reverse has a red enameled medallion with gold letters PRL (Polska Rzeczpospolita Ludowa - Polish People's Republic - RP until 1952).

Ribbon: 40 mm, red-white-red with blue edges.

Note: the order was conferred 314 times on individuals (of which 9 were subsequently withdrawn) and 9 times on territorial units and organizations..

Order of Poland Restored (Polonia Restituta)

see Republic of Poland since 1990

Order Virtuti Militari

see Republic of Poland since 1990

1.1st Class
2.2nd Class
[3rd Class reverse]

Order of the Grunwald Cross

(Order Krzyza Grunwaldu)

Instituted on November 8, 1943 (executive January 1, 1944) as an award of Gwardia Ludowa (People's Guard) - a leftist Resistance organization; confirmed by the new Polish authorities on February 20, 1944. On December 23, 1944 included in the new award system by a decree of Polski Komitet Wyzwolenia Narodowego (Polish Committee of National Liberation. The order's name and symbols go back to a victorious battle with the Teutonic Order, held at Grunwald (Tannenberg) on July 15, 1410. The order was conferred in three classes, at first in a provisional form of the ribbon bar, replaced by the cross at the beginning of 1945. The orderwas it was meant primarily for soldiers of communist and leftist military organizations in opposition to the Home Army. The 1st class of the order was conferred for outstanding merit in armed forces' organization and commanding big military operations; 2nd class - for commanding military units and organizing the armed forces; 3rd class - for acts of personal bravery or active underground work. The order could be awarded once in each class. In Peoples' Poland the order was conferred for merit in organizing and commanding the armed forces. It was discontinued in 1992.

Badge 1st class: non-enameled Greek cross of gold, with lowered edges, 55 x 55 mm. In the middle there is a gothic shield bearing two swords pointed down - a symbol of the battle of Grünwald. The reverse of the shield bears the inscription: 1410 / K.G. / 1944. Until 1952 the badge was worn from a cravat; since then it has been worn from a breast ribbon, just like the other two classes. 2nd class: as above, but in silver and in the dimensions 44 x 44 mm; with gilt swords and the shield's and the cross' edge. III class: as above, but entirely in silver; the cross' edge on the reverse is not lowered.

Ribbon: 35 mm, red with a wide white central stripe and green edges.

1.1st Class (obverse)
2.2nd Class (reverse)

Order of the Banner of Labor

(Order Sztandaru Pracy)

Instituted by act of Parliament of July 2, 1949, together with the Order of Builders of People's Poland. Conferred in two classes, for merit in national economy, science, arts, culture, defense, as well as for public and state services. It could also be awarded to an organization, factory or territorial unit. The order could be awarded many times in the same class. In 1992 it was discontinued.

Badge: a cross of five with concave arm bases and with rays between the arms. A blue medallion depicts a male figure with a red banner, partly overlapping the upper arm of the cross. The non-enameled reverse bears letters PRL (RP until 1952) in the medallion. The human figure, rays and other metal parts are gilt in 1st and silver in 2nd class.

Ribbon: 36 mm, bright red with narrow darker side stripes.

Order of Merit

see Republic of Poland since 1990

Official Decorations

Cross of Merit

see Republic of Poland since 1990

Cross of Valor

see Republic of Poland since 1990

1.Obverse (silver medal, 1st type) [Reverse, bronze medal]
2.Obverse (silver medal, 2nd type) [Reverse, bronze medal]

Medal for Merit on the Field of Glory

(Medal Zasluzonym na Polu Chwaly)

Instituted at the beginning of November 1943, after the battle of Lenino, by order of the commander-in-chief of the I Polish Army Corps in Russia, Gen. Z. Berling. By the decree of December 23, 1944 included in the Polish award system. The medal, meant as an extension to Virtuti Militari, was conferred in three grades (gold, silver and bronze) to soldiers of the Peoples' Army, irrespective of the rank, for acts of valor before an enemy. Each grade could be conferred up to four times; each subsequent award would be denoted by bars on the ribbon, in practice each award was worn separately. Requirements for the gold medal were very high, comparable to that for Soviet Gold Star of the Hero of the Soviet Union. The gold medal seemed to have been discontinued in 1945, the other two classes in 1992.

Badge: round medal of gold, silver or bronze, 40 mm of diameter. Obverse until December 1944 depicted the cross Virtuti Militari with crossed Polish and Soviet flags in background. Reverse: a rectangular tablet inscribed ZASLUZONYM / NA POLU / CHWALY 12-13 X / 1943 / LENINO and surrounded by a laurel wreath.

Obverse from December 1944: as above, with a non-crowned eagle in the cross and removed flags. The inscription on reverse runs: ZASLUZONYM / NA POLU / CHWALY / 1944.

Ribbon: 42 mm, black with broad light blue side stripes (reversed colors of Virtuti Militari).

Partisan Cross

see Republic of Poland since 1990

Polish Armed Forces in the West Military Action Cross

see Republic of Poland since 1990

Auschwitz Cross

see Republic of Poland since 1990


Medal for Your Liberty and Ours

(Medal Za Wasza Wolnosc i Nasza)

Instituted by decree of the State Council of October 18, 1956. Awarded to Polish volunteers who participated in the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939 on side of the Republic.

Badge: silver medal, 35 mm of diameter. Obverse: head of one of Republican army commanders, Gen. Swierczewski, ciricumscribed ZA WASZA WOLNOSC I NASZA (for your liberty and ours). Reverse: a three pointed star as worn by the Republican troops, surrounded by a laurel wreath, and with the inscription: XII / B I / 1936-1939 on it (13th International Battalion, named after Polish general Dabrowski, in which Polish volunteeers fought), and with the year of institution1956 below; around runs the circumscription DABROWSZCZAKOM (to members of the Dabrowski battalion).

Ribbon red with a white central stripe (of the Spanish Military Order of Merit).

Medal for War 1939

see Republic of Poland since 1990


Medal for Struggle in Defense of People's Rule

(Medal Za Udzial w Walkach w Obronie Wladzy Ludowej)

Instituted on November 22, 1983 by the State Council. Awarded to Polish citizens who supported the communist side in the so called "struggle against the reaction underground", primarily soldiers of the People's Army, People's Militia, political police and communist party member. It could be awarded posthumously.

Badge: silver medal, 38 mm of diameter. Obverse: non-crowned eagle superimposed on two crossed laurel sprays and a horizontal band, which is all a replica of the heading of the so called Manifest of the Polish Committee of National Liberation, which proclaimed people's rule in Poland in 1944. The whole is superimposed on a vertical sword, pointed down. Below runs the inscription: MANIFEST PKWN / 1944 (Manifest of the Polish Committee of National Liberation, 1944). The rand is granular. Reverse: a gothic shield with a map of Poland and letters PRL inside, circumscribed: UCZESTNIKOM WALK W OBRONIE WLADZY LUDOWEJ (to participants of the struggle in defense of people's rule).

Ribbon:38 mm, red with green side stripes and narrow red (inner) and white (outer) edges.

Note: This was the only decoration not authorized to wear in 3rd Republic.

Silesian Uprising Cross

see Republic of Poland since 1990

Great Poland Uprising Cross

see Republic of Poland since 1990

Warsaw Uprising Cross

see Republic of Poland since 1990

Battle of Lenino Cross

see Republic of Poland since 1990


30 Years of People's Poland Commemorative Medal

(Medal 30-lecia Polski Ludowej)

Instituted by decree of Parliament of February 2, 1974. Awarded to those who between 1944 and 1974 had worked or served in state or other public institutions and were engaged in social and political activities.

Badge: silver medal, 30 mm of diameter. Obverse: a non crowned Polish eagle on a square with rounded angles, with the inscription XXX (above), 1944 (left), 1974 (right), PRL (below). Reverse: inscription WALKA / PRACA / SOCJALIZM (struggle, labor, socialism) in an oak wreath.

Ribbon: 30 mm, red with three darker double stripes in the center and brighter edges.


40 Years of People's Poland Commemorative Medal

(Medal 40-lecia Polski Ludowej)

Instituted by decree of State Council of April 26, 1984 to commemorate 40th Anniversary of people's rule. Awarded for distinguished professional work or political activity in any period between 1944 and 1984.

Badge: silver medal, 32 mm of diameter. Obverse: a non-crowned Polish eagle in a lozenge of four stripes, the upper two of which are stylized corn spikes, symbolizing agriculture, and the lower two contain gear wheels, symbolizing industry. Above the eagle there are letters XL, below - PRL, on the left 1944, and 1984 on the right. Reverse: a map of Poland with the inscription WALKA / PRACA / SOCJALIZM (struggle, labor, socialism) inside; below there is a laurel spray.

Ribbon: 32 mm, half white half red, with yellow-gold edges.

Note: there are over a million copies of this medal, which makes it extremely popular.

Warsaw Medal 1939-1945

see Republic of Poland since 1990

Oder, Neisse and Baltic Medal

see Republic of Poland since 1990

1.Obverse [1st type]

Victory and Freedom Medal 1945

(Medal Zwyciestwa i Wolnosci 1945)

Instituted on October 26, 1945 by decree of Krajowa Rada Narodowa (National Council). Conferred on civilians and military who participated in any way in the fight against nazi Germany in or outside the territory of Poland. The shape of the medal was slightly altered in 1946.

Badge: bronze medal, 33 mm of diameter. Obverse, 1st type: non-crowned eagle, surrounded by a laurel wreath; in the upper part run the letters KRN (National Council). 2nd type: the eagle as above, surrounded by the inscription KRAJOWA RADA NARODOWA; below two oak sprays. Reverse (both types) bears the inscription: RP / ZWYCIESTWO / I WOLNOSC / 9. V. 1945 (victory and freedom), all words being underlined.

Ribbon:33 mm, originally half white half red; since 1946 - of five alternate stripes, three red and two white.

Note: this medal is very popular. Over 700,000 items have been issued. The 1st type is rare.


Rodlo Medal

(Medal Rodla)

Instituted by decree act of State Council of April 18, 1985. Conferred to members of the Polish minority in Germany (particularly from the areas which would belong to Poland after WWII), working actively on preserving Polish national identity, as well as to the people who worked on the Polish settlement on those areas after the war. Rodlo is a sort of plough used in ancient Poland, and symbolizes the Vistula River and the City of Cracow on it.

Badge: silver medal, 38 mm of diameter. Obverse: a type of the Polish eagle, as encountered in the dynasty of Piast, superimposed on rodlo and circumscribed NIE RZUCIM ZIEMI : SKAD NASZ ROD (we won't abandon the land that we come from). The background is granular. Reverse: A symbolic map of Poland with the letters PRL in the center, wirth the coats of arms of the three regions that became Polish after WWII: Pomerania, Varmia and Mazuria, and Silesia. Between the coats of arms runs a circumscription BOJOWNIKOM :BUDOWNICZYM : POLSKOSCI (to the warriors and builders of Polish identity).

Ribbon: 40 mm, light blue with white (inner) and red (outer) edge stripes.

Medal for Sacrifice and Courage

see Republic of Poland since 1990

Armed Forces in Service for the Country Medal

see Republic of Poland since 1990


10 Years of People's Poland Commemorative Medal

(Medal 10-lecia Polski Ludowej)

Instituted by decree of State Council of May 12, 1954 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of communist rule in Poland. Conferred to citizens who distinguished themselves in the area of work or political activity.

Badge: silver medal, 40 mm of diameter. Obverse: three human persons, representing workers, farmers and inteligensia. The central one holds a white and red enameled flag. In the circle around there run the dates 1944 22 VII 1954; in the upper part of the circle there are laurel sprays. The outer circle of the medal contains six oak leaf clusters (the upper one partly overlapped by the flag.

The medal suspends from a metal bar 38 x 12 mm, enameled dark red and with a letter X in the center. When the ribbon bar alone is worn it is 35 mm, dark red.

Medal for Long Marital Life

see Republic of Poland since 1990

© Lukasz Gaszewski 1997, 2001
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