Soviet troops goose-stepped away from a memorial to victims of World War II for the last time Saturday as they handed over control of an enclave in western Berlin to civilians.
Several hundred people watched a Soviet honor guard escort the final two-man watch away from the large memorial in Tiergarten, the sprawling park just west of the Brandenburg Gate, which used to mark the division of East and West Berlin.Soviet officers and Berlin legislators laid wreaths before the memorial and bands played the national anthems of the Soviet Union and Germany.
The mayor of the Tiergarten borough, Wolfgang Naujokat, said civilian police would guard the monument and it would be kept as it is - including the two old Soviet tanks and two artillery pieces that were part of the Red Army's advance into Berlin in 1945 as Nazi Germany fell to the Allies.
After the Berlin Wall was built in 1961, the monument became an odd Soviet enclave 500 yards inside West Berlin where the guards had to be relieved by convoy.
The end of the Soviet guardpost at the memorial was a provision of the Soviet-German treaty of friendship and cooperation signed Nov. 9 - the first anniversary of the opening of the Berlin Wall - by Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl.