Elbe Day: National East Meets West Day

By Sharon Schweitzer


East Meets West Day marks the day when the American troops met the Soviet Armies on the River Elbe which became a historical meeting point between U.S. and Soviet forces. During the Second World War, American troops were instructed to halt military operations at the Elbe, following which, Soviet troops seized Berlin. This day is of historical significance as it was the first step taken towards ending the Second World War.

At the time, World War II had been raging for over six years. During the previous year, several events had begun turning the tides of the war against the Axis powers. In April of 1945, the Allies were marching toward peace. However, it would require a coordinated effort from both American troops in the East and Soviet armies from the West.

The commanders directed their units not to make contact with each other. Their orders were to remain on their eastern and western banks of the river while officers from each division formalized occupation of Berlin.

However, when the two armies met on April 25th south of Berlin outside Torgau on the River Elbe, patrols entered the river in a small boat. The first to make contact were American First Lieutenant Albert Kotzebue and Soviet Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Gardiev along with their commands.

Two days later, photographers commemorated the event of the Eastern front meeting the Western front. The photographs became a memento of the bravery shown by the American and Soviet troops who fought together during the Second World War. This meeting eventually turned out to be a stepping stone to ending the Second World War in Europe.

Sometimes also called Elbe Day, after the river where the two sides met. East Meets West Day is about the fusion of people all over the world, celebrating the things that bring humans together instead of focusing on what drives people apart.

On the 65th anniversary of this historic event, U.S. and Russian presidents issued a joint statement commemorating Elbe Day. In Torgau, Germany, Elbe Day events are held annually.  So let’s take this day to appreciate the beauty and richness of both Eastern and Western cultures and embrace our global community with open arms.


Photo by holidayscalendar.com/event/

Sharon Schweitzer JD, is a diversity and inclusion consultant, cross-cultural trainer, etiquette expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE Centre, she is an attorney and mediator. Sharon served as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business,  Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, won a coveted Kirkus Star, and was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books. She’s a winner of numerous awards, including the British Airways International Trade Award at the Greater Austin Business Awards.

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