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Dresden Frauenkirche

The Dresden Frauenkirche – Dresdner Frauenkirche – Church of Our Lady, is a Lutheran church in Dresden, eastern Germany.

Built in the 18th century, the church was destroyed in the firebombing of Dresden during World War II. It has been reconstructed as a landmark symbol of reconciliation between former warring enemies. The reconstruction of its exterior was completed in 2004, its interior in 2005 and, after 13 years of rebuilding, the church was reconsecrated on 30 October 2005 with festive services lasting through the Protestant observance of Reformation Day on 31 October. Once a month, an Anglican Evensong in English is held in the Church of Our Lady, with clergy sent from St. George’s Anglican Chaplaincy in Berlin.

On 13 February 1945, Anglo-American allied forces began the bombing of Dresden. The church withstood two days and nights of the attacks and the eight interior sandstone pillars supporting the large dome held up long enough for the evacuation of 300 people who had sought shelter in the church crypt, before succumbing to the heat generated by some 650,000 incendiary bombs that were dropped on the city. The temperature surrounding and inside the church eventually reached 1,000 degrees Celsius. The dome finally collapsed at 10 a.m. on 15 February. The pillars glowed bright red and exploded; the outer walls shattered and nearly 6,000 tons of stone plunged to earth, penetrating the massive floor as it fell.

Rebuilding the church cost €180 million. Dresdner Bank financed more than half of the reconstruction costs via a “donor certificates campaign”, collecting almost €70 million after 1995. The bank itself contributed more than seven million euros, including more than one million donated by its employees. Over the years, thousands of watches containing tiny fragments of Church of Our Lady stone were sold, as were specially printed medals. One sponsor raised nearly €2.3 million through symbolic sales of individual church stones. Funds raised were turned over to the “Frauenkirche Foundation Dresden”, the actual rebuilder, backed by the State of Saxony, the City of Dresden and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saxony.

A bronze statue of reformer and theologian Martin Luther, which survived the bombings, has been restored and again stands in front of the church. It is the work of sculptor Adolf von Donndorf from 1885. The intensive efforts to rebuild this world famous landmark were completed in 2005, one year earlier than originally planned, and in time for the 800-year anniversary of the city of Dresden in 2006. The church was reconsecrated with a festive service one day before Reformation Day. The rebuilt church is a monument reminding people of its history and a symbol of hope and reconciliation.

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