Photos from the historic meeting on Elbe River between American and Soviet troops, 1945


These iconic photos were taken on the day Soviet and American soldiers met on the Elbe River near Torgau in Germany, marking a significant step toward the end of World War II in Europe.

The first image shows American Lieutenant William Robertson and Soviet Lieutenant Alexander Silvashko smiling with their arms around each other, in front of their national flags.

The photo of Robertson and Silvashko was taken on April 26, the day after they met. Other shots show soldiers shaking hands, exchanging mementos and posing for photographs.

This contact between the Soviet Union advancing from the east and the Americans advancing from the west meant that the two powers had effectively cut Germany into two.

The first contact between American and Soviet patrols occurred near Strehla, when First Lieutenant Albert Kotzebue, an American soldier, crossed the Elbe River in a boat with three men from an intelligence and reconnaissance platoon.

On the east coast, they were met by forward elements of the Soviet Guards Rifle Regiment of the 1st Ukrainian Front, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Gordeev.

On the same day, another patrol under Second Lieutenant William Robertson, accompanied by Frank Huff, James McDonnell and Paul Staub, met a Soviet patrol under the command of Lieutenant Alexander Silvashko on the destroyed Elbe bridge at Torgau.

On 26 April, the commander of the 69th Infantry Division of the First Army, Emil F. Reinhardt, and Vladimir Rusakov, the commander of the 58th Guards Rifle Division of the 5th Guards Army, met at Torgau, southwest of Berlin.

The next day, April 27, a formal "handshake of Torgau" was arranged between Robertson and Silvashko in front of the photographers.

US President Harry S. Truman welcomed the news: "It is not the time of the final victory in Europe, but the time is drawing near for which all the American people, all the British people and all the Soviet people have worked hard and prayed for so long." Of.

Joseph Stalin spoke of the war still ahead: "Our task and our duty is to complete the destruction of the enemy by forcing him to lay down his arms and surrender unconditionally. The Red Army is our people and all liberties- Will fulfill this task and this duty for the loving people."

The Soviet, American, British and French governments issued simultaneous statements that evening in London, Moscow and Washington, reaffirming the determination of the three Allied Powers to complete the destruction of the Third Reich.

Even though the Allies had halved Germany, Hitler ordered his troops to fight before committing suicide on 30 April.

In later years, monuments to the Elbe link-up were erected in Torgau, Lorenzkirch and Bad Liebenwerda. There is also a "Spirit of the Elbe" plaque at Arlington National Cemetery.

During the Cold War, the link-up was often cited as a reminder of the peace and friendship between the US and the Soviet Union.

One of the soldiers at the link-up petitioned the United Nations to make April 25 a "World Peace Day", although it was never officially declared.

Russia later issued a coin commemorating the 50th anniversary of the event. In 2010, the US and Russian presidents issued a joint statement on April 25 and respecting the "spirit of the Elbe".

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