National East Meets West Day was founded to commemorate the day when the troops from the United States met with the Soviet Allies on the Elbe River near Torgau, Germany.
History of National East Meets West Day
Even though the orders for the Soviet and American units didn’t anticipate contact on that historical day in 1945, this monumental meeting during World War II marked an iconic moment for these members of the allied forces, paving a way toward the end of the war.
Two days later, photos of the event were taken to reveal the bravery of these people (and representing so many others) who risked their lives for freedom in the world. Just two weeks later, the Red Army stormed Berlin and World War II victory was declared.
East Meets West Day continues to be celebrated more than 75 years later, not only to honor the sacrifices that were made by so many millions of people during the war, but also to act as a reminder of how peace can be accomplished when people from different backgrounds and cultures join forces together.
Sometimes 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.
How to Celebrate National East Meets West Day
Take a look at some of these interesting ideas and activities for getting more involved with National East Meets West Day:
Look at East Meets West Photos
Spend a bit of time gazing at some documentary evidence of East Meets West Day by doing a little online research to find photos and videos of the actual event as it took place. Take a look at the iconic photos of the first two soldiers to meet, 2nd Lt. William Robertson and Lt. Alexander Silvashko to get a feel for what happened on Elbe Day.
Learn About East Meets West Day
For history buffs or just those who are interested in learning a bit more, a great way to celebrate National East Meets West Day might be to get more educated about the history surrounding this event. Teachers and parents can use this as a teaching opportunity for children.
Consider some of these important facts about East Meets West Day:
The merging of the US Allies and Russian forces essentially cut the Nazi forces in half
The meeting on the Elbe River marked one of the most important steps toward the formal takeover of Berlin from the Nazis and Axis forces
The Elbe River is one of the major waterways of Europe, starting in Czech Republic and moving through Austria, Poland and Germany
Watch a Documentary Film about WWII
Get connected to the story of National East Meets West Day by engaging with a film that promotes this and other history making events throughout the Second World War. To get started, check out The War documentary films by Ken Burns.