Instituted on April 01, 1942 by the Royal Decree No.1014 of the King Mihai I of Romania. It was awarded to all branches of the Romanian forces irrespective of rank as well as to civilians for combat actions against the Red Army. Romanian allies – Germans, Hungarians, Italians and Slovaks were also decorated with the “Crusade Against Communism” medal.
When awarded to German military personnel it was referred to as “Kriegserrinerungsmedaille “Kreuzzug gegen den Kommunismus” in Soldbuch entries and other documents.
The obverse depicts a female head as a Romanian liberty symbol with an inscription “România recunoscătoare” (“Grateful Romania”) below.
Medals struck in Romania (1st type medals) bear the designer’s name “P.Grant” in small letters below the bust while those made in Germany and Austria (2nd type medals) do not.
The reverse bears an image of a cross and a clenched fist holding a sword thus representing the campaign against the USSR. It also has a date “1941” signifying the beginning of the Operation Barbarossa. There’s a legend “· Cruciada Împotriva · Comunismului” (“Crusade Against Communism”) around the outer rim.
It’s worth mentioning here that Germans tend to wear “Crusade Against Communism” medal with reverse facing outside due to its more “military” style unlike obverse.
Circular medal 32 mm in diameter was made of bronze and struck in Romania (Bucharest mint), Germany (C.E.Junker of Berlin) and Austria.
The 38 mm wide ribbon was dark red with two 2 mm white stripes near the edges. The centre featured short horizontal yellow and blue stripes thus representing national colors of Romania.
German made ribbon manufactured according to their standards was narrower – 25-26 mm wide.
The clasping method used to secure the ribbon is unique to Romania, its design making replacement or cleaning of the medal much easier than other methods of attachment.
Hungarian allies decorated with “Crusade Against Communism” medal folded its ribbon in their own triangular style and after covering the suspension rim with a part of a ribbon it looked like a trapezoid.
Ten battle bars indicating various military campaigns were instituted by the same decree for wearing over the ribbon bar. These were: Azov, Basarabia, Bucovina, Bug, Crimeia, Doneţ, Dobrogea, Nipru, Nistru and Odesa. Four additional bars were instituted as the war progressed, namely Caucaz, Kalmucea, Maria Neagră and Stalingrad. Each battle clasp had two crosses made of four ciphers “M” (standing for the King Mihai I) on both sides of the campaign name.
Nevertheless the number of known bars exceeds twenty due to the various spelling of above mentioned titles by German manufacturers.
Here’s a list of existing bars the author is aware of:
- Dnjestr (German version of “Nistru” bar assumingly manufactured in the Third Reich for decoration of German military personnel)
- Doneţ (in fact “ţ” letter was replaced by ordinary “t”)
- Marea Neagră
- Mare Negru (obviously misspelling of the previous bar title)
- Marianegra (obviously misspelling of the same bar title)
Battle bars were made of bronze and white metal or silvered bronze (argintată) and its exact type was indicated in the award document, e.g. “cu Bareta Crimeia /argintată/”.
Only one bar was supposed to be worn at one time, namely that corresponding to the latest battle in which the bearer of the medal has participated. Nevertheless this regulation was frequently disregarded and frontline soldiers sported several bars attached to the ribbon simultaneously.
Information on criteria of awards of bronze and white metal (silvered) bars is rather vague. Some researchers (e.g. Klietmann) indicate that ordinary bronze bar was initially awarded for a participant only in that particular battle, whereas a silvered bar was for a participant in that battle and in previous battles wherein a bar was awarded. This version seems quite odd though as multiple bronze bars on one ribbon are common. It also contradicts known period examples in a way that they should have then only one bronze bar and the remaining silvered ones.
Other historians (e.g. Calianu) assume that recipients of bronze bars must have participated in all the battles in the area of the location mentioned on the bar i.e. those who fought only in a few battles received the bronze bar, while those who participated in all the major battles received the silvered one.
Another notable difference between battle clasps except for the type of metal or finish was their form as there are two types of bars. Some are rectangular bearing the campaign name over the full width while others have round edges and the title is struck in a small box in the very centre of the bar.
It seems that the former were made in Romania to fit wide 38 mm Romanian ribbons while the latter were German ones corresponding to narrower 25-26 mm German ribbon specifications.
“Crusade Against Communism” medal was awarded until August 23, 1944 when Kingdom of Romania changed side and joined the Allies. During Socialist era many medals and award documents were discarded by veterans and their relatives for fear of prosecution and reprisal by the Communist authorities.
The exact number of medals awarded is unknown but can be estimated to 1,250,000 pieces.