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A commemorative plaque now stands where the "East Meets West" moment took place in Torgau on Elbe Day, 1945.
Elbe Day, April 25, 1945, was the date Sovietmarker and Americanmarker troops met at the River Elbe, near Torgaumarker in Germanymarker, marking an important step toward the end of the World War II in Europe. The first contact was made between patrols near Strehlamarker, when First Lieutenant Albert Kotzebue crossed the River Elbe in a boat with three men of an intelligence and reconnaissance platoon. On the east bank, they met forward elements of a Soviet Guards-rifle-regiment of the First Ukrainian Front under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Gardiev.

On April 26, the commanders of the 69th Infantry Division of the First Army and the Soviet 58th Guards Division of the 5th Guards Army met at Torgau, southwest of Berlinmarker. Arrangements were made for the formal "Handshake of Torgau" between Robertson and Silvashko in front of photographers the following day (pictured). Statements were released simultaneously in Londonmarker, Moscowmarker, and Washingtonmarker that evening, reaffirming the determination of the three Allied powers to complete the destruction of the Third Reich.

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The same day, another patrol under Second Lieutenant William Robertson with Frank Huff, James McDonnell and Paul Staub met Soviet Lieutenant Alexander Silvashko with some soldiers on the destroyed Elbe bridge of Torgau

  • The meeting of the armies was memorialized in Fred Small's song "At The Elbe".

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