Dresden church destroyed in WWII is re-consecrated

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The Baroque sandstone Frauenkirche dominates the Dresden skyline today as it did in the past. The cranes and scaffolding which covered the Church of Our Lady have been removed and the building dazzles in the sunshine.At 1000 local time, the bells rang out and crowds gathered outside the church to watch the re-consecration ceremony which was broadcast live on a giant screen.

The German President, Horst Koehler, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Chancellor-designate Angela Merkel were among dozens of dignitaries who attended the service. Britain's Duke of Kent, representing the Dresden Trust, also attended the ceremony.

Bishop Jochen Bohl told the audience that the restoration of the Frauenkirche was a "great work in the spirit of reconciliation".

"When you experience something like that, the destruction of a city, the memories never leave you. They have stayed with me all my life," said Johanna Heinke, who is 79, and from Dresden.

She was standing in the crowd and was with a friend. Johanna Heinke told me that she was 19-year-old at the time of the bombing raids, which flattened her city.

Tears welled in her eyes as she described the night of 13 February 1945, when Allied planes launched their deadly assault on Dresden.

"Coming back here today is fantastic," she said.

"Words cannot express my feelings. To see our Frauenkirche today, rebuilt and restored, and in all its splendour," her voice was breaking. "I really hope that people have learnt something from the past," she said.

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