In a rare meeting of minds the leaders of the US and Russia have made a joint statement commemorating the 75th Anniversary of the ‘Meeting on the Elbe’ on April 25, 1945, reported by the Russian News Agency – TASS, which event occurred just over a month into the beginning of my own life here. This is an important event historically, both then and now, though quite what it means in terms of today, if anything, still waits to be seen.
The text of the joint statement I will repeat below together with direct links to the announcement on both the White House and Kremlin (English) web sites. The titles of the two announcements differ only in the order of the two leaders names (and a few capital letters).
“April 25, 2020, marks the 75th Anniversary of the historic meeting between Soviet and American soldiers, who shook hands on the damaged bridge over the Elbe River. This event heralded the decisive defeat of the Nazi regime.
The meeting on the Elbe represented a culmination of tremendous efforts by the many countries and peoples that joined forces under the framework of the United Nations Declaration of 1942. This common struggle required enormous sacrifice by millions of soldiers, sailors, and citizens in multiple theaters of war.
We also recognize the contributions from millions of men and women on the home front, who forged vast quantities of war materials for use around the world. Workers and manufacturers played a crucial role in supplying the allied forces with the tools necessary for victory.
The “Spirit of the Elbe” is an example of how our countries can put aside differences, build trust, and cooperate in pursuit of a greater cause. As we work today to confront the most important challenges of the 21st century, we pay tribute to the valor and courage of all those who fought together to defeat fascism. Their heroic feat will never be forgotten.”
I have done my best to demonstrate no level of cynicism on what is actually quite a significant event as this, and I could have gone to town on that. But I have to say this:
I note with some amusement (even though I am sure the image presented above was taken at some earlier event) that I find the postitioning of national flags behind the two leaders to be quite symbolic. On whether deliberately so or not I can offer no opinion. On the US President’s side, the US and Russian flags are noticeably placed quite some distance apart – reflecting perhaps the majority position of US citizens and certainly their political representatives. While on the Russian President’s side, the two flags are actually/virtuallly hugging, reflecting perhaps the wishful thinking of the Russian leadership and perhaps also their people, for closer ties with the US. I find that observation, as someone not intrically linked to either party, both extremely interesting and not a little amusing.