Order of the Red Star, counterfeit, manufactured in
Nazi Germany, #505342, circa 1943.
In silver plated brass and enamels; 46.0 mm in height, 48.6
mm in width; weighs 25.7 grams without screw plate. Details
of the center medallion and mint mark resemble originals,
although the differences become very obvious at close
inspection. The style of serial number engraving is more
professional than a typical original Red Star of the period.
The screw plate is also a professionally made reproduction,
but definitely original to this particular piece.
The order is in fair to good condition. The enamel on the
top and upper left arms is partly repaired. The other three
arms shows typical abrasions and rough surface, due to
substandard quality of enamel. There is much wear to the
center medallion, although traces of original silver plating
are still clearly visible in its recesses. The silver finish
is much better preserved on the reverse and the screw plate.
This fake was among a series manufactured in Germany on
commission from Abwehr, German military intelligence. They
were intended for Nazi infiltrators masquerading as Red Army
servicemen. Based on documentary evidence, the Abwehr was
especially keen on using Soviet collaborators for the
purpose of infiltrating the partisan movement and
assassinating its leaders. The scheme apparently met little
success, and many of the "decorated" spies were caught. Some
of the counterfeit awards - beside Red Stars, there were
also reportedly Orders of the Red Banner - were captured,
revealed as fakes, and thoroughly analyzed by NKVD.
The existence of the "Red Stars for spies" came to light
several years ago, when a Russian magazine Peterburgskiy
Kollektsioner ("St. Petersburg Collector") published
recently declassified NKVD archives on the subject -
including some photos. The magazine article is reprinted in
its entirety in the catalog "Order of the Red Star" by
Strekalov and Durov. The book also has full size photos of
two other known examples of the "Spy" fakes (pp. 299, 300)
that are essentially identical to the example we are
offering. The most fascinating thing about this particular
piece is that it shows clear evidence of heavy use- leading
us to believe that the original owner perhaps was not caught
very soon, if at all. One can only wonder what story this
Red Star could tell if it could talk...