American who fought for Soviet army to be remembered in Russia


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Mar 21, 2009
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American who fought for Soviet army to be remembered in Russia

WASHINGTON, November 12 (RIA Novosti) - An exhibition dedicated to the only man known to have fought for both the U.S. and Soviet armies during WWII is due to open in Russia, the organizers told RIA Novosti.
Joe Beyrle, father of the current U.S. ambassador to Russia, was captured by German forces after parachuting into Normandy in June 1944. He tried to escape two times, but only his third attempt was a success.
After escaping, he made contact with a Russian tank division and, despite only knowing only two words of Russian ("Amerikanskii tovarishch" or "American comrade"), he became a valuable member of the outfit, taking part in a number of battles, including the liberation of the camp where he had been held.
After being wounded in a battle, he met legendary Soviet war hero Marshal Zhukov, who gave him a letter of transit to the U.S. embassy in Moscow, from where he made his way home to Michigan.
When he eventually arrived at the embassy and said he was Joe Beyrle, at first they did not believe him. His dog tags had been found on a dead German soldier and he was presumed to have been killed. Joe's parents had even held a memorial service for him.
Joe later returned to Russia on several occasions to tell his story - a tale that still has relevance today, believes exhibition organizer Greg Guroff, president of the Foundation for International Arts and Education.
"This has become a big topic," Guroff said. "Many people are interested in the story, and its symbolism of Soviet-American cooperation during World War II. It has attracted a great deal of interest from senior government officials."
Guroff pointed out that in the U.S., surveys had shown that many people under 40 believed the U.S. fought against Russia in WWII.
"In Russia, they think that Americans did almost nothing in the war, and are not aware that during WWII 15 million Americans were directly engaged in the fighting," he went on.
"This is an attempt not to forget what happened then," he added. "Veterans are dying off. The Cold War has left a sad mark on our perceptions of each other."
The "A hero of two nations" exhibition will open on February 18, 2010 in St. Petersburg. In May, it will move to Moscow, and then onto Kursk and Novorossiisk. It will then open in the U.S.

American who fought for Soviet army to be remembered in Russia | Top Russian news and analysis online | 'RIA Novosti' newswire

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