Torgau Elbe

Starting in the summer of 1944, Germany came under heavy pressure on both fronts. In the west, the western allies advanced towards the german empire and in the east the soviet Red army had forced the germans to retreat on a broad front. In 1945, both fronts came together and approached each other at a rapid pace. April 25, 1945 at the town of Torgau, about 50 kilometers east of Leipzig, american and soviet troops met for the first time when an American reconnaissance patrol crossed the river Elbe and converged with Soviet troops on the river’s eastern shore. The next day, the meeting was officially recreated between west and east and this time between the commanders of the respective units concerned. Additional photographs were taken on April 27, when even the most famous photo was taken of American and soviet soldiers shaking hands on the destroyed bridge over the Elbe. This bridge had been blown up by the Germans on April 25.

Current status: Demolished with monument (2011).

Location: 51°33'31.45"N 13°00'36.07"E

Get there: Car.

My comment:

This meeting was used with questionable success as a symbol of the friendship between west and east and attempts were made to explain April 25 to a form of day of peace/friendship. The old bridge was rebuilt the same year (1945) but was replaced in 1993 by a new more modern bridge next to the old one. Attempts were made to save the old bridge as a historical memorial, but of this it became nothing and the bridge was demolished in 1994. Only part of the bridge foundation on the west side remains. About 100 meters north of this there is a memorial dedicated to the meeting. The monument bears a Soviet character because Torgau ended up in what became communist East Germany after the war.

Follow up in books: Beever, Antony: Berlin: The Downfall 1945 (2004).