Robertson, 2nd Lt. William D.

"The Spirit of the Elbe", the formal US-Soviet "link-up" at Torgau

Price: $195.00 Special Offer - $150.00



Description:
(?) The first meetings of Soviet and US troops on the Elbe near Torgau in April 1945 brought the end of WW II in Europe within reach. Elements of the US 69th Infantry had been on the Mulde River since 23 April 1945. Patrols were to conduct reconnaissance as far as the Elbe. The patrol led by 2nd Lt. William D. Robertson left Wurzen at about 10am on 25 April 1945. British POWs in Sitzenroda reported there were US POWs and wounded in Torgau. Robertson's patrol drove there, farther than orders allowed. Near the Fort Zinna Wehrmacht prison they met some POWs who reported that Soviet troops had reached the east bank of the Elbe. Using watercolors, Robertson turned a bed sheet into a US flag, climbed the tower of Hartenfels Castle and waved the flag. Soviet soldiers of the 58th Guards Rifle Division at the opposite end of the bridge took notice and fired red flares. Green flares were the agreed answer signal but as the US patrol had none, the Soviets opened fire. The patrols managed to communicate with the aid of a Soviet officer, a Fort Zinna POW. Robertson and the others cautiously crawled across the ruins of the Elbe bridge, which retreating German troops had blown up in the early hours of 25 April. Sgt. Nikolai Andreyev and other soldiers crawled towards them from the east side; they embraced without a word. They made their way to the other side on all fours, where Red Army soldiers enthusiastically welcomed them. Robertson negotiated with the Soviet commander to arrange a meeting of their commanding officers. With 4 Soviet soldiers, the patrol drove back to the US troops. No further fighting occurred in the town. With the meeting of Soviet and American troops on 25 April, Elbe Day, the war was over for Torgau and Germany was effectively cut in two. An earlier contact between US and USSR patrols occurred near Strehla after 1st Lt. Albert Kotzebue crossed the Elbe in a boat with 3 men of an intelligence and reconnaissance platoon. On the east bank they met forward elements of a Soviet Guards rifle regiment. later, 2nd Lt. Robertson, with 3 men, met a Soviet patrol led by Lt. Alexander Sylvashko on the destroyed Elbe bridge. On April 26, arrangements were made for the formal "Handshake of Torgau" between Robertson and Sylvashko in front of photographers on April 27. The Allied governments released simultaneous statements that evening reaffirming the determination of the Allied powers to complete the destruction of the Third Reich. A "Spirit of the Elbe" plaque at Arlington Cemetery commemorates the day. In 1988 a plaque titled "Der Geist der Elbe" ("Spirit of the Elbe") was mounted on a stone at the site of the encounter between troops of the U.S. 69th Infantry and the Soviet Guards. By 2010, the 65th anniversary, Elbe Day events in Torgau were held annually on the weekend closest to April 25. In 2010, the U.S. and Russian presidents issued a joint statement on April 25 commemorating the "spirit of the Elbe". An observation platform is all that remains of the old Elbe bridge. SP, 8 x 10 b&w flat finish Wide World Photos print of the April 25, 1945 iconic photo of 2nd Lt. Robertson embracing Russian Army Lt. Alexander Sylvashko, signed only by Robertson on the verso adding "(on the left)/April 25, 1945". With 8 x 5 sheet with Robertson's ink-printed name, address and telephone. From the Rev. Cornelius Greenway collection. REV. CORNELIUS GREENWAY (1896-1968) immigrated to the US from Holland 1914. During WW I, served with US Army in France, earned Purple Heart and Service Medal. Tufts Univ. BA 1925, STB 1928. Started collecting autographs, inc. photographs, in late 20ís. Ordained Universalist minister 1926, served parishes in Taunton & Boston, Mass. Pastor of All Souls Church in Brooklyn, New York 1929-65, affiliated with National Assn. of Congregational Christian Churches 1961.

Condition: Very good, light corner bends
Type:Photograph






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