30 October 2005

Good News Saturday

After a long hiatus, Good News Saturday finally returns to The Capital Letter. (OK, OK, I know it's strictly speaking already Sunday, but work with me here!)

This week's good news comes from eastern Germany, not the source of a whole lot of good tidings these days, given how grim the economic and unemployment situations are there. Specifically, it comes from Dresden, where tomorrow will see the consecration of the splendidly rebuilt Frauenkirche, destroyed by Allied bombing in February 1945.

Above: The bombed-out Frauenkirche in 1945. Below: Though the church is complete, work goes on in the surrounding square. [Source: Deutsche Welle]

Sixty years after its destruction the last throes of the Second World War (the bombing of Dresden remains to this day a deeply controversial episode. It has been described by some influential critics as a war crime. For more information, see this excellent Wikipedia article) and fully fifteen years after the effort to rebuild it finally began upon German reuinifcation in 1990, the Frauenkirche is now complete and has resumed its dominant place in the Dresden skyline.

The project has cost a total of €180 million, much of which was given by private donors. A particularly poignant piece is the golden cross atop the dome, which was donated by the city of Coventry and cast by a British goldsmith, whose father was one of the bombers who took part in the firebombing of Dresden in 1945.

A crowd in excess of 100,000 is expected at tomorrow's ceremony, which will be attended by the (still) Chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, and the (not yet) Chancellor, Angela Merkel, amongst other dignitaries.

This is good news indeed. The last time I was in Dresden, the rebuilding of the Frauenkirche was already well under way, but I have not seen it, except in pictures, since the exterior was completed late last year. It was already impressive when it was only half rebuilt, so it must look quite something by now. I look forward to checking it out next time I head Dresden-ward.

Deutsche Welle and Wikipedia both have more detail on this story.