Meeting of American and Soviet soldiers on April 25, 1945 near the city of Torgau.InternationalIndiaAfricaOleg BurunovSoviet and American troops met at the Elbe River in Germany on April 25, 1945, after completing the defeat of Nazi Germany. It was considered the highest point in allied relations of the countries of the anti-Hitler coalition.The US has again banned the Russian Embassy from holding a traditional wreath-laying ceremony at an Arlington Cemetery memorial to coincide with the 78th anniversary of the Soviet and American forces meeting at the Elbe River, Russia’s Ambassador to Washington Anatoly Antonov said in a statement on Tuesday.
Antonov stressed that it is impossible "to live and boost the Motherland’s defense capability" without remembering "the lessons of history."
“It becomes increasingly difficult for us to reach out to official Washington regarding the importance of preserving memory and working together to immortalize the heroes of those times,” the Russian diplomat said.He recalled that the Russian Embassy has been banned from holding a traditional ceremony dedicated to Elbe Day for the second year in a row. He added that last year, diplomats were not allowed to visit the Fort Richardson National Cemetery in Anchorage, where Soviet pilots are buried.
"Such an attitude insults not only World War II veterans of the two countries, but also all those who remember their great feat-of-arms,” Antonov went on to say, giving kudos to “all members of the anti-Hitler coalition who fought for freedom and peaceful future on our planet."
According to him, Elbe Day – which is annually marked on April 25 – “symbolizes the brotherhood of the USSR and the USA,” who fought together against Nazi Germany during the Second World War.
"For Russia, this historical date is a holy one," the ambassador emphasized, praising the allies' joint efforts and the Red Army’s decisive role in defeating "the common enemy".
“We must prevent previous mistakes from being repeated. Currently, the common task is to fight for peace and security in order to root out seedlings of the ‘brown plague’ that have already thrived in Ukraine and in a number of European states. We also should tackle any attempts to justify Nazi criminals and their accomplices,” the Russian diplomat concluded.
Elbe Day dates back to April 25, 1945, when US army soldier Albert Kotzebue crossed the river in a boat with three men of the American intelligence and reconnaissance platoon near the German town of Strehla. On the east bank, they met servicemen of a Red Army Guards rifle regiment of the First Ukrainian Front under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Gordeyev.Also that day, another US patrol under Second Lieutenant William Robertson met their Soviet brothers-in-arms commanded by Lieutenant Alexander Silvashko near the destroyed Elbe bridge on the outskirts of the German city of Torgau, southwest of Berlin.© Sputnik / Arkadyi Shaikhet / 1945, last days of Great Patriotic War : Russians and Americans link at Elbe1945, last days of Great Patriotic War : Russians and Americans link at Elbe / Go to the mediabankAccording to memoirs of Soviet officer Alexey Gorliansky who took part in the historic meeting, at first the Red Army soldiers confused the Americans with the Germans, but quickly realized their mistake after one of the US servicemen yelled, “Muscovi-Washington. Hitler caput. Harrah!”
Another participant of the River Elbe meeting, US Corporal James J. McDonnell, for his part, recalled that “Once they [Soviet soldiers] recognized us, we were all buddies.″ He added that “We couldn’t speak Russian, and they couldn’t speak English, but the hugs and handshakes said it all.″
As for Silvashko and Robertson, they posed for a stock photo showing them warmly greet each other against a background of Soviet and American flags, and a poster reading “East meets West.” The photograph went viral across the world, becoming a symbol of unity among the allies of the anti-Hitler coalition. Importantly, the subsequent deterioration in US-USSR relations didn’t stop Robertson and Silvashko from staying good friends for the rest of their life. Robertson visited the Soviet Union several times to see Silvashko.Similarly, April 26, 1945, saw a meeting in Torgau between Soviet and US commanders Vladimir Rusakov and Emil F. Reinhardt, respectively, with the two posing for the formal “Handshake of Torgau” in front of photographers the following day, April 27.
The Soviet and US governments then released statements reaffirming their determination of the Allied powers to complete the destruction of the Third Reich.
Historians say that as a result of the unification of anti-Hitler coalition forces on April 25, 1945, the German armed forces were split into northern and southern parts, which indicated an important step toward the end of WWII.