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Dresden Trust chairman Alan Russell
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Sunday, 13 February, 2000, 22:17 GMT
Duke leads Dresden tribute

German city of Dresden Dresden skyline following saturated allied bombing

The Duke of Kent has presented a replica orb and cross to Dresden's cathedral to mark the 55th anniversary of the allied bombing of the German city.

The gilded orb and cross replaces those destroyed in the devastating bomb attack by Allied planes on February 13, 1945, which killed tens of thousands of civilians.

[It is a] symbol of peace and reconciliation for the future
Duke of Kent
The raid, by 796 Lancasters and nine Mosquitos, was part of the Allied policy of saturation bombing German cities.

Ata a ceremony attended by German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Saxony Governor Kurt Biedenkopf, the Duke praised German efforts to rebuild the former East German city and the famous Frauenkirche Lutheran cathedral.

Duke of Kent Duke of Kent (right) is president of the Dresden Trust
The Duke described the orb and cross as a potent symbol of suffering, reconciliation and rebirth.

They will stand 300ft above the ground, topping the stone dome of the 18th-century baroque cathedral, which collapsed after two days of Allied bombing, when the temperature of the masonry reached an estimated 1,000C.

Crowning feature

The eight-metre high orb and cross were made in London by goldsmiths Grant Macdonald and paid for by British donations to the Dresden Trust, of which the Duke is president.

Alan Smith Alan Smith works on labour of love
One of the craftsmen, Alan Smith, is the son of a British pilot involved in the 1945 Dresden raid. Mr Smith, 52, led an eight-month project to recreate the 23ft crowning feature of the Frauenkirche.

His late father, Frank, was a pilot in 57 Squadron which carried out the raid.

The chairman of the Dresden Trust, Alan Russell, said: "I think what we have been able to do has had a very considerable healing effect not only for the Dresdeners but also for the British people involved," he said.

The Foundation for the Reconstruction of the Frauenkirche was formed in 1990 and money has been raised for the fund in Germany, America and Britain.

The rebuilding programme began in 1993 and is scheduled to be completed in 2006 - Dresden's eighth centenary.
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