A War Still Seen Through Stained Glass (Germany/WW II)

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FRANKFURT AN DER ODER, Germany — During the last days of World War II, this drab city in eastern Germany was almost completely destroyed as Soviet troops advanced toward Berlin.

It has been rebuilt, of course, and this year it boasts spectacular medieval stained-glass windows that have been returned after more than 60 years in exile in Russia.

Yet the 66-foot-tall windows — which date from the 14th century and depict scenes from the Old Testament in powerful images and strong colors — are less a trophy of all that has been achieved in overcoming Germany’s complicated past than a symbol of what remains to be done to untangle the legacies of Nazism and Communism.

In an unusual gesture, the Russian government sent the last of 117 glass panes last month to their home here in the Marienkirche, or Church of Our Lady. They arrived just in time for the Christmas season and ended a long diplomatic effort by the local and federal governments.

“It is a further sign of reconciliation and the friendship between our countries,” Bernd Neumann, the German culture minister, said during a ceremony observing the windows’ return.

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