On 16 September 1918, the first official Soviet award for military service, the Order of the Red Banner, was established. Awarded several hundred thousand times during the Soviet period, its first recipient was Vasilii Bliukher for his military leadership in the Urals theatre of war. Bliukher would go on to be awarded the order four more times, twice in 1921 and twice in 1928.
The portrait of Bliukher here, with some of his many military awards visible (four of his Red Banners can be seen in a row), comes from a book of his speeches and articles. The great civil war hero was caught up in the purges of the late 1930s and died after violent interrogation in October 1938, in a case that also saw his brother and first two wives shot. As many victims of the purges, Bliukher was rehabilitated in 1956. The rehabilitation allowed Bliukher to be commemorated and celebrated again, including in this publication, printed in 1963.
Stat’i i rechi / V.K. Bliukher (1963) 586:92.c.95.174