Today is the 75th anniversary of the iconic US-Soviet link-up on the Elbe River in 1945. The Elbe River had been agreed upon at the Yalta Conference held February 4–11, 1945 as the dividing line between the westward advance of Soviet forces, and the eastward advance of US and British forces.

Major General Emil F. Reinhardt, commanding the 69th Infantry Division of the U. S. First Army, meets Russian Major General Vladimir Rusakov, commanding the Russian 58th Guards Infantry Division, at the Elbe River on April 25, 1945.


This famous handshake took place near the small Saxon town of Torgau, and symbolized the culmination of a hard-fought, costly victory against the Third Reich. Five days later Adolf Hitler shot himself in his bunker as the Soviet Army flattened the city of Berlin above him. A few days after that, the armed force of Germany surrendered unconditionally to the Allies and WWII was over.

The agreements for the shaping of post-war Europe that came out of the Yalta Conference would later go down in history as some of the most controversial – with many feeling that the people’s of Eastern Europe were basically handed to Stalin on a silver platter by Churchill and Roosevelt. And the Elbe, which had begun as a tactical limit-of-advance line on the map, ended up becoming the frontline of the “iron curtain” that divided Eastern and Western Europe for the next 50-odd years.