Russia formally withdrew its troops from Germany, ending almost 50 years of Soviet and Russian presence in Western Europe. In Berlin -- where the Russians helped defeat Adolf Hitler in 1945 -- 1,000 Russian soldiers ended a day of parades with a warm song of farewell in Russian and German: "Germany, we give you our hand -- and return to the Motherland." (In Latvia and Estonia, where feelings are harder, Russian troops also left today, but with less pomp.) The pullout of more than 340,000 soldiers began in 1989 after the Soviet Union's collapse. "It was an extraordinarily moving day," says TIME Bonn bureau chief Bruce Van Voorst. "As one Russian correspondent said, this in a sense really is the end of World War II." BTW: The withdrawal was not quite complete: 320,000 Red Army soldiers are buried in Germany.