WWII officers reminisce about meeting on the Elbe

More events commemorating WWII are being held following the grand celebrations of Victory Day in Moscow. Officers who took part in the historic meeting on the Elbe River are in Moscow for an informal reunion.

US WWII veteran Igor Belousovich recalls the atmosphere of joy that pervaded the meeting between Soviet and American troops on April 25, 1945, which marked a key move toward the end of World War II.

“I was the only one who could speak Russian when we met…No one could really communicate, except me,” recalled Belousovich, who himself is a descendent of Russian immigrants. “So, we slapped each other on the back. There were a few hugs. Everybody was smiling; there was some exchange of souvenirs.”

War Witness: tribute to the victory in the Second World War

Still, despite the relief and pride that the Allied forces shared over the defeat of the Nazi regime, present-day opinions often tend to underestimate the role that the Soviet army played in the conflict.

US WWII veteran Frank Cohn thinks this is a matter of politics.

“While we were in the army, there was really no communication between Americans and Soviets,” Cohn said. “Each one of us was fighting our own war and didn’t know what was going on on the other side. After the war, it became unfortunate that the Cold War started so soon, and then it became political. Those who lived through it knew, but those who came later didn’t. We, who lived through it, knew that the Russian forces had the brunt of the problem.”

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