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Soviet Flags And Banners Discussion pertaining to Flags and Banners of the Soviet Union, Unit Flags and Socialist Competition Banners.

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Old 12-19-2002, 07:09 AM   #1
Tal Inbar
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I don't know how many of you have the velvet banners, awarded by organizations, as awards or as propaganda. They are HUGE and richly embroidered.

I would like to know more about the banners - who paid for them? Was there a document that came with the flag? Is there a reference source for them?

Tal
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Old 12-24-2002, 05:48 AM   #2
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Tal,

There is not much reference material on Soviet banners. There is one small self-published book on military banners by Doug Drabik. A second, expanded edition of this book is due out in early 2003. It will still only cover military banners though.

Military banners fall into two or three types.

Units standards are the official standard or banner of a military unit. These are extremely rare items. It is almost unheard of for the unit standard of a western or German military unit to be in private hands. However, there are several Soviet unit standards, generally dating from WWII or earlier, around. These mostly came out of small Soviet museums which closed and sold off their collection.

In the WWII period there are two main models of unit standards, the M1940 and the M1942. The M1940 is a more elaborate design - pre-war issue ones are particularly well made. The obverse has the Soviet state coat-of-arms, or gerb, with 11 ribbons. “Proletariat of all Nations Unite!” is written above the gerb while the unit designation is written below. The reverse has a large star with hammer and sickle with “Supreme Soviet USSR”, the issuing body, written around it. The M1942 has a simple red star on the obverse, with unit designation, and a hammer and sickle on the reverse with “Supreme Soviet USSR”. In addition, standards of guards units and naval units differ slightly.

Unit standards were official issue items, just like the unit’s artillery and vehicles. There was no cost involved. Hey were issued by decree in the name of the USSR Supreme Soviet.

M1940 and M1942 unit standards are made of bright red silk and are excellent quality, though early M140 standards are of the best quality. The embroidery is silk and in some parts gold metal wire. These standards were kept with the unit, hence many were lost or captured by Germans. They were carried in the unit or flown from a unit vehicle. The heavy dark red velvet unit standards began to appear in mid-1945 for the Victory Parade. They were not for regular use as they were too heavy.

There are many photos of unit awards attached directly to the unit standards. However, this appears to be an unofficial, though widespread practice. (Someone correct me if they know of any official regulations authorizing this practice.) Instead, special streamers made of lengths of award ribbon were flown from the flag-pole with the standard. A gold braid tasse with end knot was also flown from the flag-pole which had a metal pointed finial on top of it.

The second type of military banner are unit award banners. Unit awards banners were gifts from organizations or institutions (party organization, komsomol organization, state farm, factory, youth group, etc.) to the military unit. They have the name of both the unit and the awarding organization. They usually have the coat of arms (gerb) on one side and Lenin and Stalin heads, often with a quote, on the other side. The donating organization was responsible for buying the banner. These banners could be carried in the unit along with the unit standard or kept in the unit’s HQ.

A third type of military banner (sort of) are the standardized military flags - RKKA, Air Force and Navy as well as the special naval flags for commanding officers and special functions. These were off the shelf items not tailored to an individual or specific unit.

I know less about non-military banners. However, there are a few main categories. Organizations sometimes had an official standard as well. These appear to be self bought and not issued by a higher body. The most common type of civilian banner is the competition award banner. These were given to an organization, work unit, etc. as an award for socialist competition - best coal mine, etc. Often they do not say what the specific competition was although they generally do specify the winning organization. These can be anything from huge, high quality banners for a major union wide competitions to small foot-long pennants for minor in-house competitions.

I have never seen or heard of a document for any banner. However, as military unit standards were awarded by decree of the USSR Supreme Soviet it is possible that a document exists or that a coy of the decree was given.

Shawn
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Old 12-24-2002, 06:31 AM   #3
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M1940 model unit standard of the 2nd NKVD Moto-Rifle Regiment. This unit was one of four motorized rifle regiments (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 10th) which made up the 1st Dzerzhinskiy Motorized Rifle Division of the NKVD Interior Troops Operational Forces. The division was formed in 1924 as the OGPU’s “special tasks unit” and named the Dzerzhinskiy Division in 1926. It fought bandits in the 1930s, the Finns in 1939, guarded key government objectives during WWII as well as fighting on the Western and Volkhov Fronts. The unit was based in Moscow. After the war the Dzerzhinskiy division was at various times part of the Soviet MGB, KGB and MVD and is now part of the Russian MVD.

The reverse of the 2nd NKVD Moto-Rifle Regiment. The special dark red and royal blue (NKVD colours) trim to the star are unusual and are only seen on standards of some elite NKVD units.
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Old 12-24-2002, 06:34 AM   #4
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A WWII era Soviet banner tassel.
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Old 12-24-2002, 06:37 AM   #5
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Award banner given to an Artillery Regiment by the Komsomol organization of the Frunzensk Region of the City of Moscow. The banner was lost in the Vyazma Pocket in October 1941 and subsequently dug up and restored, reportedly by a veteran of the unit. The banner was seriously damaged. While it has been well cleaned and nicely restored it still has several holes. The identity of the unit was not known as the first two digits of the unit’s designation have rotted away leaving only a zero for the last digit. However, it has been possible to identify the unit through research.

Order of battle research showed that there were three artillery units ending in a zero in the Vyazma pocket, the 410th Light Artillery Regiment, the 970th Artillery Regiment and the 620th Howitzer Regiment. The first clue was that the 970th is the only “Artillery” unit on the list, the others are a “Howitzer Artillery” unit and a “Light Artillery” unit and the banner only says “Artillery”. However, this is not absolute proof of identity as unit banners do not always carry the exact full unit title and “Howitzer” or “Light” could possibly have been left off in order to save space.

Battle history research showed that the 620th Howitzer Artillery Regiment, and its parent 162nd Rifle Division, were able to retreat from the Vyazma pocket while the 410th Light Artillery Regiment, and its parent 134th Rifle Division, and the 970th Artillery Regiment, and its parent 2nd Rifle Division (2nd formation) were destroyed in the pocket.

Finally, further research showed that the 410th Light Artillery Regiment, with its parent 134th Rifle Division, was formed in the Kharkov Military District while the 970th Artillery Regiment, with its parent 2nd Rifle Division (2nd formation), was formed in the City of Moscow. In addition, the 2nd Rifle Division (2nd formation) was first known as the 2nd Moscow Militia Division which was formed largely from Communist Party and Komsomol members. Given that the banner was awarded by the Komsomol organization of the Frunzensk Region of the City of Moscow the odds are extremely high that the unit in question is the 970th Artillery Regiment.

The busts of Lenin and Stalin are clear on this, the reverse, side of the banner.

The obverse side of the award banner of the 970th Artillery Regiment. Note that on the Soviet coat of arms (gerb) the USSR is highlighted in red on the globe. This is unusual on Soviet banners.
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Old 12-24-2002, 06:41 AM   #6
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This early competition banner was awarded to Work Site 175 of the UVSR - Directorate of Military Construction Work - of the RKKA. The Soviet coat of arms (gerb) has only 6 ribbons and dates from the 1927-1932 era. Note the Stalin quote on the left. This banner is made of red cotton not silk and is single sided.

Unfortunately, it has not been possible to determine what Work Site 175 of the UVSR actually was!
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Old 01-12-2003, 06:01 PM   #7
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Presentation banner from Birobidzhan :
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