69 Years ago today (April 25th, 1945) American and Soviet forces met on the Elbe River in Germany, the very first meet up of its kind. Soldiers of the US 69th Infantry division and Russian soldiers of the 58th Guards Rifle division met each other at two separate places and times on that day. The very first meet up occurred between an U.S. Reconnaissance team (Commanded by First Lieutenant Albert Kotzebue) and forward scouts of the Soviet 1st Ukrainian front (Commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Gardiev) near Strehl, Germany, the other on a destroyed bridge at Torgau (Pictured above). Shortly later that evening the big three (US, UK, Russia) released statements assuring the total destruction of the German military. Germany would surrender unconditionally to the allies in the east and west on May 7th, 1945.
On April 26th the commanders of each formation met each other and arranged for the official "hand shake" at Torgau which was basically the photo shoot for the event. The event served as a sign of peace and friendship for the two antagonistic super powers throughout the Cold War, one American soldier (Joseph Polowsky) that was present proposed to the United Nations that Elbe day be a day of peace and it was accepted. The Elbe river meetup has been commemorated in many ways, a plaque was placed in Arlington national cemetery, there is a monument at the site of the meetup, and in 1995 Russia even released a commemorative coin that depicts the "Elbe hand shake". In 2010 President Obama and President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia each gave a speech commemorating the Elbe "Hand shake"
Even in times like these, its hard not to look back at this event and feel human.
Elbe River meetup memorial Torgue, Germany. (The inscription reads: "Here on the Elbe on April 25th, 1945 The Forces of the First Ukranian Front of the Red Army Linked up with American Forces). [url]http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0a/Torgau_Denkmal.JPG[/url]
Another meetup picture with Russian and American soldiers on an American Sherman tank. [url]http://media.moddb.com/images/members/1/559/558367/0_c3f4c_6292848d_orig.jpg[/url]
American forces in a Willys chat with there Russian counterparts. [url]http://media.desura.com/images/members/1/559/558367/42_big.jpg[/url]
Elbe meetup memorial at Arlington National Cemetery, Washington D.C. [url]http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/84/Elbe_Day_Memorial_Arlington.jpg[/url]
Russian Elbe River commemorative Coin, released in 1995. [url]http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/38/RR5011-0017R.gif[/url]