Two U.S. veterans of World War II laid flowers Monday at a Moscow monument commemorating the meeting of Soviet and American forces at the Elbe River 60 years ago, in the first linkup of the allies who were poised on the threshold of victory over the Nazis.
Frank Cohn, of Alexandria, Virginia, and Igor Belousovich, of Falls Church, Virginia, stood before a plaque based on a famous photograph of the Elbe meeting as a Russian military band played. The ceremony was organized by a Russian group comprised of the descendants of marshals and generals who led the Soviet military effort during World War II.
The deputy chief of mission of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, John Beyrle, said the Elbe meeting symbolized the continuing partnership between Russia and the United States. He said the partnership must be used to overcome the modern threats of international terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Beyrle's own father, who died last year, was believed to be the only soldier to fight for both the United States and the former Soviet Union during World War II.
Joseph Beyrle had joined a Soviet tank unit headed for Berlin after escaping from a German prisoner-of-war camp in Poland in January 1945. He fought alongside the unit for a month, until he was wounded and arrangements were made for him to rejoin the American forces.