.- It was an historic occasion of reconciliation for German and British citizens yesterday when a cross and orb were placed atop a newly rebuilt church in Dresden, which had been destroyed by Allied bombers almost 60 years ago.
First built in 1743, the Church of Our Lady was once one of Europe's most important baroque churches. It lay in ruins for almost 50 years, but it was rebuilt from scratch in an ambitious reconciliation project, involving Britain and Germany.
The project took 10 years and cost Â£90 million. Of the churchâs million bricks about 8,000 are original.
The cross and orb are in themselves significant symbols of reconciliation and peace since they were both fashioned by the son of a RAF pilot, who took part in the 1945 attack.
Alan Smith, a craftsman at a London firm of goldsmiths, spent eight months making the cross and orb in stainless steel and copper to the original 18th-century design.
Smith said his father, Frank, would tell him of the sufferings in the war, which he did not want people to forget.
Smith and his 80-year-old mother joined the Duke of Kent and about 300 British guests for the ceremony in Dresden.
Old Dresdeners wept and cheered as the crown and orb were eased onto the church's tower with a crane. Bells rang in celebration across the city.
The Duke of Kent said the churchâs crowning was a sign of hope for a "free, peaceful and united Europe". It should stand as a reminder of the "painful and difficult past", shared by the two countries, he said.