On April 25, 1945, the Soviet troops of the 1st Ukrainian Front met with the 1st U.S. Army near the city of Torgau on the River Elbe. As a result, the remnants of Germany’s armed forces were split into two parts – northern and southern.
The first meeting of American and Soviet servicemen occurred when an American patrol under the command of First Lieutenant Albert Kotzebue crossed the Elbe. On the eastern bank they met Soviet soldiers under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Gardiev. On the same day, another American patrol under the command of Second Lieutenant William Robertson met with Soviet soldiers under the command of Lieutenant Alexander Silvashko on a destroyed bridge across the Elbe near Torgau.
On April 26, the commander of the Soviet 58th Guards Rifle Division, Major General Vladimir Rusakov, and the commander of the American 69th Infantry Division, Major General Emil Reinhardt, met at Torgau.
Both commanders exchanged welcoming speeches at the reception. In his speech General Reinhardt said:
“I am living through the most joyful days in my life. I am proud and happy that my division was lucky to be the first to meet with units of the heroic Red Army on German territory. Two great Allied armies met. This meeting will speed up the final defeat of Germany’s armed forces”.
In his return speech, Major General Rusakov said:
“A long-awaited and joyful day has come. Two great armies met on German territory. The heroic Red Army went a long way through tense fighting and glorious victories. The meeting of two Allied armies is a big historic event in the fight against Nazi Germany. Let this meeting serve as a pledge of the soonest and final defeat of Hitler’s army and establishment of a lasting peace”.