3 medals from the DDR in the original box. Here are the incredible stories:
Medal 1 is Arvid Harnack (1901–1942) was a German jurist, economist, and German resistance fighter in Nazi Germany. From 1937–41, Harnack held close contact with Donald Heath, the First Secretary at the US Embassy, to inform the US about Hitler’s preparations for war. In 1941, after the Americans left Berlin, Harnack was contacted by the Soviets, and agreed to supply them with information about Hitler’s war preparations.
In 1941, Harnack sent the Soviets information about the forthcoming invasion.
Arvid got captured and sentenced to death after a four day trial before the Reichskriegsgericht (“Reich Military Tribunal”), and was put to death three days later at Plötzensee Prison in Berlin. The back of the medal says:”Scout Using All Of His Personality”.
Medal 2 is Fritz Schmenkel (1916–1944) was a German communist and resistance fighter against Nazism, who fought with the Soviet partisans in Belarus during the Great Patriotic War. In November 1941 he defected from the German army and went into hiding near the village Podmoshe, Smolensk Oblast. From there, he approached the Soviet partisan unit “Death to fascism” and explained his desire to join the partisans. After initial suspicion and interrogations, Schmenkel finally won the trust of the partisans when he killed a German soldier who tried to set fire to the house where the partisans had their base. He was allowed to join the partisans.
Schmenkel soon proved himself to be valuable for the partisans; wearing a German uniform and pretending to be a Wehrmacht general, Schmenkel would lead German military columns into partisans’ traps. This helped the partisans capture entire units of Wehrmacht soldiers, as well as ammunition and food. In 1943, he was brought to Moscow by the Red Army, where he was awarded the Order of the Red Banner and received military training. In 1943 Schmenkel was ambushed and captured by the German occupational authorities. He was brought to Minsk and sentenced to death and executed by firing squad a week later. The back of the medal says:”Partisan Scout Soldier Of The Revolution”.
Medal 3 is Ilse Stöbe (1911–1942) was a German journalist and anti-Nazi resistance fighter. She was arrested in 1942 by the Gestapo, allegedly for spying for the Soviet Union and for membership of the Red Orchestra (Die Rote Kapelle) Soviet espionage ring. A Gestapo report of November 1942 said a radio message from the Soviet Union informed that a parachuted resistance fighter would come to her address. After seven weeks of torture she was compelled to confess to conspiratorial connections to the Soviet secret service and to persons such as Rudolf von Scheliha. He was then also arrested on 12 October 1942. Both were sentenced to death for treason on 14 December 1942 by the Reichskriegsgericht, and executed on 22 December 1942 in the Plötzensee Prison in Berlin, she by guillotine and he by hanging from a meathook. The Soviet agent, Heinrich Koenen, who had landed in Germany by parachute, was arrested at her house by a waiting Gestapo official. Her mother was also arrested and sent to Ravensbrück concentration camp, where she died in 1943. Stöbe’s brother Kurt Müller was able to escape arrest and continue his resistance activities with the resistance group, the European Union Resistance. He was murdered in June 1944.Stöbe (code name “Alta”) repeatedly sent warning messages to the Soviet Union about the impending German invasion of the Soviet Union well in advance of the attack.
She was the only woman to be featured on this special medal issued by the East German Ministry of State (Stasi) to commemorate important spies in Communist service during the war. The Ilse Stöbe Vocational School in Market Street, Berlin is named in her honour. The back of the medal says:”Smart, Steadfast And Loyal For The Protection Of Socialism”.