“Stalin’s Appeal Shock Worker” breast badge, the most popular decoration of Soviet railroaders, was instituted on April 23, 1934 (the next day of Vladimir Lenin’s 64th anniversary) by the Decree of the Central Executive Committee of the USSR, the highest governing body of the Soviet Union in the interim of the sessions of the Congress of Soviets. Introduction of that highly esteemed departmental badge was made possible by the grassroots support that came from the Leningrad-based Proletarsky (i.e. “Proletarian”) factory railroaders who were communists of the first Lenin’s appeal. Their statement, prepared in conjunction with the oncoming 27th Communist Party Congress, contained the following ideas. “As a part of preparation for the 27th Party Congress we suggest to elaborate concrete self commitments aimed at fulfillment and overfulfillment of production target by each team and each shock worker on a daily basis and ten-day period. We suggest each shock worker to render an account of fulfillment of his obligations on a weekly basis, and each foreman to render an account of fulfillment of his team’s obligations during corporate meetings.We suggest a special Roll of Honor to be introduced at each depot, station, railway section and factory, so that each shock worker’s team and workshop, entire depot, entire factory could present their best shock workers. After the example of the National Red Roll organized by “Pravda” newspaper in conjunction with the 17th Congress, we suggest a 27th Party Congress Roll of Honor to be set up by “Gudok” newspaper as well as by newspapers issued by local and railway Political departments; [we suggest] the best shock workers, shock workers’ teams, workshops, factories, districts and railways that carried out their obligations by the opening of the Congress to be entered in that Roll upon nomination of Political Departments. We suggest Stalin’s Appeal of Shock Workers of the 27th Congress to be set up”.
Their initiative was taken up by the youth shock workers’ team of conductors who worked under certain Maria Orlova with the passenger train No.71 of the Moscow-Belorussian-Baltic railway. They prepared an open letter that was published in the “Gudok”, an official newspaper of People’s Commissar for Transport, on March 15, 1934. An article contained a suggestion of the “Stalin’s Appeal Shock Worker” badge introduction as well as specific criteria for decoration with the badge: “Who deserves being decorated with the badge? Only those who demonstrate exemplary work as well as mobilize poor achievers. Those, who not only became proficient in hardware but also organize vocational training”.
It was governing body of the People’s Commissar for Transport that supported their initiative undertime and the badge was instituted by the Decree of the Central Executive Committee of the USSR shortly after.
The badge was generally described in the Order of the People’s Commissar for Transport “On the “Stalin’s Appeal Shock Worker” of the Railway Transport Badge” issued on April 29, 1934 and signed by the People’s Commissar for Transport Andrey Andreyev and the Head of Political Department of the People’s Commissariat for Transport Vladimir Polonsky.
Below is the full text of the original statute of the “Stalin’s Appeal Shock Worker” badge.
“1. “Stalin’s Appeal Shock Worker” badge is presented to the best shock worker of the railway transport who represents an example of conscientious iron discipline, fulfils and goes over the quota in terms of quantitative and qualitative indicators while executing his duties, mobilizes poor achievers to reach high working efficiency, became proficient in his own duties and shares his experience with the others, participates actively in socio-political life.
2. “Stalin’s Appeal Shock Worker” badge is issued by the Political Department of the People’s Commissariat for Transport through the Central Committee of the Railroaders’ Union, Political sections of railway authorities and Railway committees of trade union of railroaders upon special nomination made by District political sections, District committees of trade union of railroaders, Party organizers of the railway transport and heads of respective managing units as well as local Party and Soviet organizations. A careful consideration of each pretender is to be strictly given during meetings of industrial and office workers.
3. Railroaders decorated with the “Stalin’s Appeal Shock Worker” badge enjoy first priority in implementing their rights and benefits among all the shock workers of the railway transport.
4. “Stalin’s Appeal Shock Worker” badge can be deprived by the Political Department of the People’s Commissariat for Transport and the Central Committee of the Railroaders’ Union through Political sections of railway authorities and Railway committees of trade union of railroaders upon nomination made by District political sections, Party organizers, local Party and trade union organizations and respective managing units. Regular non-fulfillment of production target, violation of labor discipline and anti-social acts are the reasons for deprivation of the badge.
Be the issue of deprivation of the “Stalin’s Appeal Shock Worker” badge raised, it must be discussed during a meeting of industrial and office workers”.
The very first decorations with a badge took place at the beginning of July 1934.
Initially the badge was exclusively awarded by the People’s Commissar for Transport. In 1943 samerightwasgiventoHeadsofrailways, andsince 1949 itwasalsoawardedbyDeputyMinistersofRailroadsaswellasHeadsofdistricts.
Design of the badge was elaborated by two artists, Vsevolod Elsky (1890-1948) and E.Zon. “Stalin’s Appeal Shock Worker” badge had a shape of a hexagonal nut stylized as a tunnel with a sickle, from which a steam engine “Joseph Stalin” drove out. Horizontal hammer was situated at the bottom of the badge. Red enameled five-point star was placed above locomotive. The nut was superimposed on three red enameled banners, the front one bearing a gilt word “Shock worker” (“Ударник”) executed in capital letters. Left and upper parts of the nut bore semi-circular inscription “Stalin Appeal” (“Сталинского призыва”) in black capital letters.
First 79,396 badges had serial number stamped on reverse. As the badge came down to a mass production award, numeration was discontinued.
Depending on a period of manufacture, five major types of the badge are known to exist:
- Three-piece badge measuring 31,5x31,5 mm made of three riveted elements: banners, nut with five-point star and steam engine. Altogether ca. 55,000 numbered badges of this type were manufactured.
- Two-piece badge measuring 31,5-32x34-34,5 mm made of two riveted elements: banners and steam engine with nut. Approximately 20,000 numbered badges of this type were produced.
- One-piece badge with flat reverse and counter-relief steam engine measuring 31x33 mm. Only 3,000 numbered pieces were minted.
- One-piece badge with flat reverse and counter-relief steam engine measuring 31,4x33,2 mm. Those badges had no serial number on reverse.
- Late production one-piece badge with strong counter-relief (mirror reverse) bearing no serial number.
However, dozens of slight variations of the “Stalin’s Appeal Shock Worker” badge can be singled out, differing in finish type (brass or nickel-plated), reverse workmanship and obverse details.
The vast majority of badges were made of brass, while unique pieces are found in copper. The badge was attached to the tunic with screw and round nut. Early pieces were issued with an additional round thin washer for perfect fit.
The badge was presented together with either a standard hard-cover red or red-brown award certificate or a temporary printed document of various types, depending on issuing local railway authorities. Lost award certificates or temporary documents were replaced with duplicates. Holders of the badge were often rewarded with special notes of thanks or even were mentioned in departmental press.
Photographic evidence shows that elite shock workers were decorated with the badge twice and even thrice.
Initially “Stalin’s Appeal Shock Worker” badge was deservedly regarded as a highly prestigious departmental award. However, with the lapse of time mass decorations with the badge naturally diminished its importance and value.
Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, the highest legislative body of the Soviet Union, issued on September 16, 1957 discontinued decorations with the badge. Totally ca.500,000 badges were awarded within 1934-1957.