US and Soviets link up at Elbe River, April 1945 – World War II
- Fifth and final souvenir sheet issued to commemorate the 50th anniversary of World War II
- Includes 10 stamps plus a world map
Stamp Category: Commemorative
Series: World War II
Value: 32¢ (Denomination of each individual stamp)
First Day of Issue: September 2, 1995
First Day City: Honolulu, Hawaii
Quantity Issued (if known): 100,000,000
Printed by: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Offset, Intaglio
Format: Sheetlets of 10 (arranged in 2 strips of 5, one across the top and one across the bottom of the sheetlet, with world map in between)
Perforations: 11.1 (Eureka off-line perforator)
Tagging: Overall, large block covering stamps and part of selvage
Why the stamp was issued: This souvenir sheet was issued to commemorate the 50th anniversary of World War II. It was the last in a series of five that were issued over the course of five years.
About the stamp design: To depict the linkup of American and Soviet soldiers William Bond and Howard Paine, artist and director, chose Private First Class Paul Staub’s photo of the bridge the Germans blew up. The bridge is located on part of the Elbe River. In the photo soldiers can be seen climbing on the bridge and meeting up with a Soviet soldier. Bond, according to Staub, did his photo justice.
First Day City: The stamps were dedicated in Honolulu, Hawaii. Aboard the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, the ceremony took place in view of the USS Arizona Memorial.
About the World War II Series: As the 50th anniversary of World War II was approaching, the US Postal Service wanted a series that would recognize the key events of the war and the important contributions America made to the Allied victory. Rather than issue a large number of stamps, the USPS decided to create five sheetlets, each commemorating one year of America’s involvement in the war. Each sheetlet had 10 different stamps arranged in two horizontal strips of 5. In the center was a world map with Allied and neutral nations in yellow and Axis-controlled areas in red. Notes on the map highlighted key developments that occurred that year. The stamps each featured important events that took place during the year, as well.
History the stamp represents: When the Battle of the Bulge ended in January 1945, Hitler’s forces were no longer a serious threat on the Western front. With reserves exhausted, armor scare, motor fuel drying up, and the Luftwaffe virtually gone, the defeat of Germany was inevitable. Despite the obvious however, Hitler gave orders to fight on.
In an effort to effectively eliminate the enemy, the Allies began their final campaign on the Western front. Russian forces already in Poland and East Prussia began a massive offensive from the east on January 12th. Meanwhile, the US began its own offensive in the west. Strategic bombing continued, raining destruction upon German cities day and night. In April, the great industrial Ruhr, with its engine force of 400,000 soldiers was captured by US troops. Meeting no real opposition in the east, Soviet forces continued to push forward, fighting their last great battle in Berlin.
On April 12th – the day President Roosevelt died – the US Army crossed the Elbe River, the agreed upon dividing line between Soviet and Western zones of postwar occupation. On April 25th, amid much celebrating, Soviet and US troops met for the first time, cutting Germany in half. Hitler ordered his soldiers to fight on, and then committed suicide on April 30th.