The Meeting at the Elbe: When Americans, Russians, and Europeans Were Friends
April 25, 1945, is a date few remember but it was a significant day in the history of the world. On this day, American troops coming from the west and the Red Army advancing from the east joined forces on the Elbe River near Torgau, a small city about 100 km south of Berlin. They became friends, some of them lifelong ones. This friendship was precious for all of mankind, and should be the standard towards which we humans aspire.
It’s been 75 years since the Western (American, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, British, French, and other occupied European countries’ resistance forces) and Eastern (Red Army) Allies of the Second World War met in Torgau, a small German city in “Bundesstaat“ Saksen, which became the proverbial line between East and West. Torgau became part of the GDR, one of the countries of the Warsaw Pact.
The two armies had their first contact during the war in Europe on April 25, 1945, on the Elbe River near Strehla, 30 kilometers upstream from Torgau. The Elbe Day commemorates this event. One of the US soldiers who attended the meeting at the time, Joe Polowsky, later campaigned for April 25 to be recognized as “World Peace Day”. According to his last will, he was buried in the Protestant cemetery in Torgau in 1983. Unfortunately, the “World Peace Day“ has yet to become a reality. In the Second Cold War, peace between the US & Europe on one side and Russia on the other is a distant dream given the new hybrid war.
From September 1945 to October 1948, the NKVD operated special camps No. 8 and No. 10 in Torgau in the former Wehrmacht prison Fort Zinna and in the nearby Seydlitz barracks. After the end of the Second World War, Torgau, which previously belonged to the former Prussian administrative district of Merseburg, became part of the newly founded Bundesstaat of Sachsen-Anhalt. In 1952, as part of the administrative reform in the GDR, it was assigned to the district of Leipzig as district town. After the fall of the wall and the collapse of the GDR, Torgau is now part of the Bundesstaat Sachsen.
The Meeting At The Elbe
During the Yalta Conference, a specific signalwas agreed upon. At the approach of each other’s forces, American troops were supposed to fire a special green-colored signal from their rifles. The Soviets, on the other hand, were supposed to fire a red-colored one. A soldier from the US Army, Lt. Bill Robertson,spotted what he believed were the Russians. Red Army Soviet Lt. Alexander Sylvashko led that group, who also spotted the Americans. The following day, a massive celebration took place on the river banks of the Elbe, in which commanders and dozens of soldiers from each side met and exchanged gifts. Buttons, stars, and patches from each other’s uniforms were all common gifts.
The official German surrenderending the war came into effect on May 7, 1945. Americans soon followed the Yalta Agreement and withdrew their forces behind what would become known as the “Inner German Border”. This border would grow and strengthen in the coming Cold War to become the foundation of the feared Iron Curtainbetween competing spheres of global influence. But in April, for just a moment, East and West were able to meet, put aside their differences, and celebrate the end to the conflict, if just for a little while.
The Yalta (Crimea) Agreement
The Declaration of Liberated Europe was created by Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Joseph Stalin during the Yalta Conference. It was a promise that allowed the people of Europe “to create democratic institutions of their own choice”. The declaration pledged “the earliest possible establishment through free elections of governments responsive to the will of the people”, but it turned to be different for the people of Europe. Parts of Europe fell under US occupation, who brought “democracy“ to the so-called “free“ American zone in Europe. Russia favored communist governments for Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, the Baltic States, Romania, Ukraine, Albania, Moldova ,and Eastern Germany. Yugoslavia was a socialist country and turned out to gain some sort of independence. So the world was once again divided between East and West, and Europe is still presently divided.
Up to the present day, Europe is under under American influence, resulting in NATO, the EU, and the Trans-Atlantic Council. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia became prey for Western robbery through hard-core capitalists and criminals. Under the reign of the Putin government, it stopped this process and brought economic prosperity to Russia, as well as a new place on the world stage. Some older politicians, journalists, and intelligence officers in Europe still live in the Cold War and can‘t accept the “new“ Russia. Therefore, they continue their “old“ spy games and Russophobia. We can read this in our daily regular Mainstream Media (MSM).
This was not, however, the aim of the American and Russian soldiers who met at the Elbe River in 1945. All they wanted was the end of the war, peace, and stability. This must be the lesson for the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. No rivaly, no threats, and no war, hybrid or physical. We are all humans and must accept our differences.
By Sonja van den Ende
Source: One World