Image Credit: Flickr 2nd Lt. William Robertson meets Lt. Alexander Silvashko during Elbe Day.

Observed annually on April 25th, National East Meets West Day, or Elbe Day, commemorates the day in 1945 when the Soviet Allied forces and United States troops met at the Elbe River that runs near Torgau, Germany during World War II.

Two days after the meeting, photos were taken to commemorate the event and have become iconic images of the allied forces shaking hands. These photographs are a testimony to the brave men who risked their lives on that riverfront. This meeting marked an important step in a string of events that turned the tides of the war against the Axis powers toward the end of World War II in Europe.

The units had orders that didn’t anticipate contact with each other; however, the two armies met and sent patrols across the river in a small boat. After this merging of armies, Nazi forces were effectively cut in half, and just two weeks later, the war ended when the Red Army stormed Berlin. 

How can you learn more about East Meets West Day? Here are 4 ideas to put into action:

  1. Watch a documentary such as The War, directed and produced by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. It is available on PBS and Netflix.  
  2. Read a book about the WWII conflict to show solidarity and deepen your knowledge. Check out this list of great reads.
  3. Visit a World War II history museum, such as the National WWII Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana, or the International Museum of World War II in Natick, Massachusetts.
  4. Spread the news about this historic day on social media by using the hashtags #EastMeetsWestDay or #ElbeDay.

Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., 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. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business, Access to Asia, 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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