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08 May – 16 July 2023

Volgograd, Museum and Heritage Site ‘Battle of Stalingrad’

Organized by

the State Historical and Memorial Museum and Heritage Site ‘Battle of Stalingrad’, Volgograd


the Moscow Kremlin Museums; the State Historical Museum, Moscow; the State Central Museum of Contemporary History of Russia, Moscow


Order “Victory” award certificate of J.V. Stalin

The Moscow Kremlin Museums take part in a large-scale exhibition “Gifts to the Supreme Commander-in-Chief”, presented in the hall that leads to the Battle of Stalingrad Panorama. The display features historical pieces that reflect work of J.V.Stalin as the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the USSR and his role in defending Tsaritsyn-Stalingrad. The gifts from the leaders of different states, presented to him after the victory of the Soviet state in the Great Patriotic War, expressed recognition of courage, sacrificial fortitude and soldiership of the multiethnic Soviet Union led by J.V. Stalin.

The Kremlin treasury has the world’s largest collection of diplomatic gifts, presented to Russian tsars, emperors, and leaders of the Soviet state and modern Russia. For the exhibition in Volgograd, the Moscow Kremlin Museums provided four unique exhibits, viz a Thompson submachine gun – the gift from John Russel Maguire to J.V. Stalin, a congratulatory letter from the Mongolian people, and two Order “Victory” award certificates of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief. To date, these historical objects have not been on display outside the capital.

The Thompson submachine gun bears a silver plate with a gift inscription: TO MARCHAL JOSEPH STALIN WITH THE COMPLIMENTS AND ADMIRATION OF RUSSEL FOR HIS MAGNIFICENT LEADERSHIP AND CONTRIBUTION TO THE PEACE OF THE WORLD. John Russel Maguire – a famous American billionaire, who made a fortune during World War II by selling weapons and military equipment. The “Tommy”, as it was then known, brought the businessman enormous profits and made him one of the richest men in the United States. By 1945, sales of the “Tommy” had exceeded two million pieces. The arms magnate presented J.V. Stalin with one.

After the outbreak of the Great Patriotic War, the first country to officially declare its full support for the USSR became the People's Republic of Mongolia, which not only provided reliable rear protection for the Red Army, but also supported the economy of the Soviet state, in particular by donating 300 kg of gold. This aid was a way of thanking Soviet Russia for the crucial assistance it had given Mongolia in gaining national independence. The letter in a gold cover from the Mongolian people to J.V. Stalin marked the 30th anniversary of the ruling Mongolian People’s Party, the mutual recognition of the Mongolian People’s Republic and Soviet Russia, and the signing of an agreement to establish neighbourly and friendly relations between the countries.

A special place in the exhibition is given to non-gift items. These are J.V. Stalin’s award certificates. He was twice awarded the USSR’s highest military decoration – the Order “Victory”, embodying the utmost degree of recognition of the Supreme Commander’s “exceptional services” in “the organization and skilful leadership of the armed forces of the Soviet Union”, which led to “the greatest defeat of the German army” (Decree of 29 July 1944) and the complete victory over Nazi Germany (Decree of 26 June 1945).

In addition to J.V. Stalin, the Order “Victory” was awarded to Marshals A.M. Vasilevsky (twice), G.K. Zhukov (twice), L.A. Govorov, I.S. Konev, R.Y. Malinovsky, K.A. Meretskov, K.K. Rokossovsky, S.K. Timoshenko, F.I. Tolbukhin, and Army General A. I. Antonov. This Order was also awarded to foreign statesmen and commanders – King of Romania Mihai I, British Field Marshal B.L. Montgomery, Marshal of Poland M. Rola-Zymierski, US Army General D. Eisenhower, and Yugoslav partisan leader J. Broz Tito.

The idea of establishing the award came up at the Supreme Commander’s Headquarters in 1943, following the decisive and successful operations at Stalingrad and Kursk salient. The decoration itself, depicting the panorama of the Spasskaya Tower and set with 174 diamonds and five large synthetic rubies, is familiar to almost everyone in Russia. Until now, the award certificates for the Order “Victory” were known only to specialists.

The exhibition project in Volgograd will give visitors a unique opportunity to see historical rarities that belonged to the Supreme Commander-in-Chief.