The Church of Our Lady in Dresden, the Frauenkirche, destroyed by Allied bombers during World War Two, was reconsecrated yesterday. The bells rang as crowds gathered outside the Lutheran church to watch the ceremony on giant screens. Inside, hundreds of dignitaries including German President Horst Koehler, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and the Duke of Kent.' leading the British delegation, attended the service. The Frauenkirche was destroyed in an air raid in February 1945. Historians say there was no strategic reason for the attack. More than 35,000 were killed in the raid and the city burned for a week in a ferocious firestorm. The charred remains of the church were left untouched by East Germany's communist authorities. Reconstruction began after German reunification with a huge 180,000 million Euro project, partly financed by private donors in the UK and America. Last year, a 21 foot high gold cross, donated by the British charity, the Dresden Trust, was placed on the top of the church dome. The cross was crafted by a British goldsmith whose father took part in the raid. Dresden Bishop Jochen Bohl said during the service: "A deep wound that has bled for so long can be healed... Our hearts and senses are moved by gratitude and great joy." Bishop Bohl said the restoration of the baroque church was a "great work in the spirit of reconciliation". Dresden resident Karl Hoch, who saw the church collapse in 1945, said: "The rebuilding is especially important to me because the Frauenkirche was a meeting point for Christians who opposed Hitler. It's always had a special spiritual significance."
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