FINNISH MILITARY DECORATIONS

KUNNIAMERKIT

.

All three official Finnish Orders award decorations both for military and civilian merits, but the Medals and Crosses of Liberty were however meant for rewarding military skill and bravery "under enemy fire". They were especially meant for the soldiers of the Finnish Army despite of their nationality. These decorations were not awarded to Finnish co-belligerets in large quantities but decorations of The Order of the White Rose (of Finland) and especially The Order of the Lion (of Finland) constituted in 1942 were awarded Instead.

The Grand Master of all Orders in Finland is usually the President of the Republic of Finland but the Grand Master of The Order of the Cross of Liberty is the Commander-in-Chief of the Finnish Defence Forces. Marshal (since 4.6.1942 Marshal of Finland) C. G. E. Mannerheim was although granted the position of the Grand Master for his lifetime. Before the Order of the Cross of Liberty became official in December 1940 the current Commander-in-Chief had right to award these medals.

During the war higher commanders had also limited right to award certain amounts of the lowest medals. Also Chief Physicians of the Military Hospitals could initially award medals to seriously wouded soldiers but this practise was discontinued during the Continuation War.

Majority of the older medals were designed by Finnish artists Akseli Gallen-Kallela and Eero Snellman but Mannerheim Crosses were inspired by artist Major Aarno Karimo together with Mannerheim. They were eventually designed by goldsmith and artist Oskar Pihl like the all decorations of The Order of the Lion of Finland as well.
.

Additional Attributes Used in Finnish Decorations

Abbreviations added after the name of the decoration: (/ or without dots)
s.a. / sa
r.a. / ra
k.a. / ka
mk.k.
/ mk
mk.tl.k. / mk tl
mk.jk.k. / mk jk
pr.k
/ pr
= sota-ajan ansioista
= rauhanajan ansioista
= kansalaisansioista
= miekkojen kera
= miekkojen ja tammenlehvän kera
= miekkojen ja jalokivien kera
= punaisen ristin kera
= for war-time military merits
= for peace-time (military)
merits
= for civil merits
= with swords
= with swords and oak leaf
= with swords and jewels
= with red cross

.


.
Sources: The following list is based on the books:
-
Kunniamerkkikirja (The Book of Decorations) by Juha E. Tetri - TETJU
-
Vapaudenristin ritarikunta - Isänmaan puolesta (The Order of the Cross of Liberty - For Fatherland) - VAURI

Note: Pictures are only for reference. If you need more accurate information on Finnish decorations please refer to available books on decorations or some of the Internet pages specialized on devorations.

.
.
:

.
.
VAPAUDENRISTIN RITARIKUNTA
THE ORDER OF THE CROSS OF LIBERTY

Decorations instituted on 4.3.1918 and re-instituted on 8.12.1939.
The Order of the Cross of Liberty was officially instituted on 16.12.1940.
Decorations were awarded mainly between 1918 - 1919, 1939 - 1960 and since 1986.

See statistics on the awarded crosses and medals.

.
.

Special Characters of the Ribbon Colour

VR 1 suurr., VR 1 rt.k., VR 1 and VR 2 awarded before 1939 * and
all VR class peace-time decorations or for non-combat and civilian merits:

Yellow ribbon without rosette.

* All these classes had always yellow ribbon until 1942 when all war-time VR class crosses awarded
since 1939 for combat merits were retroactively ordered to have red ribbon with white lines near egdes.
.

Special War-time Signs Added to Decoration:

- the year the war started (1918, 1939 or 1941) and the text " Suomen kansalta"
..[From the Finnish People] on the reverse side (all military decorations)
- with a red ribbon
(VR crosses since 1939 and MR 1)
- with a rosette (VR 2 - 4 class military decorations, Vm. 1 m.k.)
- with swords (VR crosses)
- with swords and oak leaf * (for very successful activity, VR crosses)
- with swords and jewels (the highest possible honour, VR crosses)

Special sign for medical personnel only (since 29.3.1936):
- with red cross
(only VR 2, 3 and 4 without swords, Vm. 1 and Vm. 2)

* Since August 1941. Oak leaf could be also awarded separately to the previously
received VR cross but it was always awarded together with the named cross
although only the oak leaf was added to the old cross.

.
.

Finnish Name (and Abbreviation)
Name in English, Notes

(In order from the highest to lowest. All pictures are of war-time medals and VR class crosses are "with swords".
Numbers include medals awarded between 1918 - 1996.)
.

Vapaudenristin suurristi (VR suurr.)
Grand Cross of the Cross of Liberty

For the highest military leaders and heads of states only.

The cross is slightly bigger than VR 1 and it is in a long
wide ribbon worn on the right shoulder around the body.

ISÄNMAAN PUOLESTA = for fatherland

The white and black areas in the cross and the white, black
and red areas in the chest star are of gloss enamel.

26 awarded with swords and ten for civil merits.

VR suurr mk
Breast Cross
1. lk:n Vapaudenristi rintatähden kera (VR 1 rt.k.) (since 29.3.1936)
Cross of Liberty 1st Class with (Chest) Star

VR 1 with similar chest star as with VR suurr.

For Lieutenant Generals and higher ranks only.
The white and black areas in the cross are of gloss enamel.

22 awarded with swords and oak leaf, 63 with swords and
12 for civil merits.

VR 1 mk
Breast Cross
1. lk:n Vapaudenristi (VR 1)
Cross of Liberty 1st Class

For officers with the rank of Colonel or higher.
The white and black areas in the cross are of gloss enamel.

67 awarded with swords and oak leaf, 372 with swords and
102 for civil merits.

VR 1 mk.....
2. lk:n Vapaudenristi (VR 2)
Cross of Liberty 2nd Class

For officers with the rank of Captain or higher.
The white and black areas in the cross are of gloss enamel.

210 awarded with swords and oak leaf, 1.631 with swords,
two with red cross and 255 for civil merits.

VR 2 mk.
3. lk:n Vapaudenristi (VR 3)
Cross of Liberty 3rd Class

For men, NCOs and officers. High decoration if awarded to NCO.
The black areas in the cross are of matt colour.

1.394 awarded with swords and oak leaf, 11.231 with swords,
390 with red cross and 674 for civil merits.

VR 3 with blue background and with red ribbon without rosette and
swords was awarded for civil merits.

VR 3 mk
4. lk:n Vapaudenristi (VR 4)
Cross of Liberty 4th Class

For men, NCOs and officers.
High decoration if awarded to Private or Lance Corporal.

The black areas in the cross are of matt colour.

8.379 awarded with swords and oak leaf, 71.373 with swords,
1.336 with red cross and 1.921 for civil merits.

VR 4 mk
1. lk:n Vapaudenmitali (Vm. 1)
Medal of Liberty 1st Class

For men and NCOs.
Typically awarded to wounded NCOs and higher.

URHEUDESTA = FÖR TAPPERHET = for valour

88.017 awarded and 5.484 with red cross.
.

Almost exactly the same looking medal is
1. lk:n Hopeinen ansiomitali kansalaisansioista (VR hop. am.)
Silver Medal of Merit 1st Class (for Civil Merits)
(until 1941 called Vm. 1 k.a.)

The text in the medal is however
ISÄNMAA PUOLESTA = FÖR FOSTERLANDET = for fatherland

Green ribbon (without a rosette) with one wider black line in
the middle and narrow red lines near the edges of the ribbon.

1.150 (Vm 1 ka) + 296 (VR hop am / VR am 1) awarded.
.

Vm 1..
2. lk:n Vapaudenmitali (Vm. 2)
Medal of Liberty 2nd Class

For men and NCOs.
Awarded to many those who worked for the state during
the war and also to wounded soldiers.

URHEUDESTA = FÖR TAPPERHET = for valour

463.857 awarded and 7.713 with red cross.
.

Almost exactly the same looking medal is
2. lk:n Pronssinen ansiomitali kansalaisansioista (VR pron. am.)
Bronze Medal of Merit 2nd Class (for Civil Merits)
(until 1941 called Vm. 2 k.a.)

The text in the medal is however
ISÄNMAA PUOLESTA = FÖR FOSTERLANDET = for fatherland

Green ribbon (without a rosette) with one wider black line in
the middle and narrow red lines near the edges of the ribbon.

3.598 (Vm 2 ka) + 33.677 (VR pron am / VR am 2) awarded.
.

Vm 2..

 
.

.
.
SPECIAL DECORATIONS OF
THE ORDER OF THE CROSS OF LIBERTY

Used during WW II only.
.
.

Finnish Name (and Abbreviation)
Name in English, Notes
.
1. lk:n Vapaudenmitali ruusukenauhassa (Vm. 1 rn.k.) +
Medal of Liberty 1st Class on Rosette Ribbon

(+ r n. k. = ruusukenauhan kera [with a rosette ribbon])

Awarded to officer who had received all decorations he according
to his rank is able to receive.

URHEUDESTA = FÖR TAPPERHET = for valour

One awarded: Marshal  C. G. E. Mannerheim

Vm 1 rnk
Vapaudenristin 1. lk:n Mannerheim-risti (MR 1)
Mannerheim Cross (of the Cross of Liberty) 1st Class

Instituted in 1941.

The black and white areas in the cross are of gloss black enamel.

Two awarded:
Marshal of Finland C. G. E. Mannerheim
Infantry General A. E. Heinrichs

MR 1...
Vapaudenristin 2. lk:n Mannerheim-risti (MR 2)
Mannerheim Cross (of the Cross of Liberty) 2nd Class

Instituted in 1941. Chest cross without ribbon.
Could be awarded twice (
MR 2 solk.).

The black and white areas in the cross are of gloss black enamel.

Only 191 awarded between 1941 and 1945. Additionally
four awarded twice with Marshal's batons above the cross.
.

MR 2 solk
Vapaudenristin kultainen ansiomitali (VR kult.am.)
Gold Medal of Merit (of the Cross of Liberty)

Green ribbon without a rosette with one wider black line in the middle
and narrow red lines near the edges of the ribbon.

Only one awarded: General der Infanterie Waldemar Erfurth
(German liaison officer in Finnish Supreme HQ 6.1941 - 9.1944).

.

VR kult am
Vapaudenristin sururisti (VR surur.)
Cross of Mourning (of the Cross of Liberty)

VR 4 with swords, rosette and black ribbon.
Replaced ordinary VR 4 crosses before Winter War.

For the closest relative of a soldier killed in action
i.e. wife, oldest daughter or mother (in this order).
Males don't have right to wear it.

These were given, not awarded. The total number of Medals
and Crosses of Mourning exceeds more than 100.000 pcs.
About 25.000 were given after Winter War.
.

VR surur
Vapaudenristin surumitali (VR surum.)
Medal of Mourning (of the Cross of Liberty)

Vm. 1 with black ribbon.

For the closest relative of a person killed in non-military duty of
war industry or national defence.

These were given, not awarded. Total number tens of thousands.

VR surum

 
.

.
.
SUOMEN VALKOISEN RUUSUN RITARIKUNTA
THE ORDER OF THE WHITE ROSE (OF FINLAND)

Instituted on 28.1.1919.

Dark blue (ultramarine) ribbon.
.

Special Signs Attached to Decoration:

- Grand Cross with chain (to the heads of the states etc.)
- Commander and Knight decorations with swords and/or jewels

.

Finnish Name (and Abbreviation)
Name in English,
Notes

(In order from the highest to lowest)
.

Suomen Valkoisen Ruusun suurristi (SVR suurr.)
Grand Cross (of the White Rose of Finland)
With or without a chain. Chain was earlier "with swastikas", but since
early 1960's it has been in a modified form "with spruce twigs".

.
Suomen Valkoisen Ruusun I lk:n komentaja (SVR K I)
Commander (of the White Rose of Finland) 1st Class
.
Suomen Valkoisen Ruusun komentaja (SVR K)
Commander (of the White Rose of Finland)
.
Suomen Valkoisen Ruusun I lk:n ritari (SVR R I)
Knight (of the White Rose of Finland) 1st Class
.
Suomen Valkoisen Ruusun ansiomerkki (SVR amrk.)
Medal of Merit (of the White Rose of Finland)
Awarded only for women.
.
Suomen Valkoisen Ruusun ritari (SVR R)
Knight (of the White Rose of Finland)
.
Suomen Valkoisen Ruusun I lk:n mitali kultaristein (SVR m. I kr.k.)
Medal of the White Rose (of Finland) 1st Class with Gold Cross
.
Suomen Valkoisen Ruusun I lk:n mitali (SVR m. I)
Medal of the White Rose (of Finland) 1st Class
.
Suomen Valkoisen Ruusun II lk:n mitali (SVR m. II)
Medal of the White Rose (of Finland) 2nd Class
.

 
.

.
.
SUOMEN LEIJONAN RITARIKUNTA
THE ORDER OF THE LION (OF FINLAND)

Instituted in 1942.

Dark red ribbon.
.

Special Signs Attached to Decoration:

- Commander and Knight decorations with swords

.

Finnish Name (and Abbreviation)
Name in English,
Notes

(In order from the highest to lowest)
.

Suomen Leijonan suurristi (SL suurr.)
Grand Cross (of the Lion of Finland)
Always without chain.
.
Suomen Leijonan I lk:n komentaja (SL K I)
Commander (of the Lion of Finland) 1st Class
.
Suomen Leijonan komentaja (SL K)
Commander (of the Lion of Finland)
.
Suomen Leijonan I lk:n ritari (SL R I)
Knight (of the Lion of Finland) 1st Class
.
Suomen Leijonan ritari (SL R)
Knight (of the Lion of Finland)
.
Suomen Leijonan ansioristi (SL ar.)
Cross of Merit (of the Lion of Finland)
.

.

© 1998 - 26.2.2004 Harri Anttonen

1