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Auschwitz ‘must be experienced’

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Screen Shot 2016-03-15 at 11.22.23AROUND 200 students from schools and colleges across Wales have visited the Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz- Birkenau in Poland as part of the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Lessons from Auschwitz Project.

Now in its seventeenth year, the project is based on the premise that ‘hearing is not like seeing’.

On the visit, students first visited Oswiecim, the town where the Nazi concentration and death camp was located and where, before the war, 58% of the population was Jewish.

Before visiting the concentration camp, students were taken to a Jewish Cemetery in the town of Oswiecim.

The Town’s last known Jewish person passed away in 2000 and a central grave was built for this person.

However, pupils learned that the gravestones did not necessarily correspond with the deceased because these were replacements after Nazis dug up the original gravestones to use them to build roads.

Students then visited Auschwitz I to see the former camp’s barracks and crematoria and witnessed the piles of belongings that were seized by the Nazis.

Among the belongings were numerous pots and pans, shoes, brushes and suitcases.

Pictures of the prisoners held at the camp were also displayed in numerous buildings.

They were given a guided tour of the facilities and also shown were the Jewish people were taken to be gassed.

The gas chamber was created at Auschwitz I in late 1941 but in 1942 killing operations largely moved to Birkenau where two gas chambers were created in specially adapted cottages near the camp.

Finally they spent time at the main killing centre of Birkenau where the day concluded with candle lighting and a period of reflection to remember the six – million Jews killed in the Holocaust and the other victims of Nazi persecution.

The visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau was preceded by a seminar in the UK where participants were introduced to Jewish life in Europe before the Second World War and heard the testimony of a Holocaust survivor.

The overall number of people murdered at Auschwitz-Birkenau is estimated to be approximately 1.1 million people. They included: around 1 million Jews; around 64,000 Poles; around 21,000 Sinti and Roma; around 15,000 Soviet POWs and around 12,000 victims from other groups.

Other prisoners died from disease, starvation, exhaustion or brutal treatment by guards.

The students will now become ambassadors for the Holocaust Educational Trust and will undertake their ‘next steps’ to share their experience with their schools and their wider community.

Karen Pollock MBE, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust said: “The Lessons from Auschwitz Project is a vital part of our work, allowing young people to learn about the Holocaust in a way they cannot in the classroom.

“The visit enables young people to see for themselves where racism, prejudice and antisemitism can ultimately lead and its importance is demonstrated by the inspiring work students go on to do in their local communities.”

Pupils from Greenhill School in Tenby and Ysgol y Preseli were among the representatives from Pembrokeshire on the trip.

Students described the experience as ‘surreal’ and added that they were shocked by the number of personal belongings that were on display at the museum.

One of the students commented: “The day was extremely tiring, both physically and emotionally.

“It was highly moving to see such genuine, re-humanisation of the victims

“One of the most educational days of my life, almost too much to absorb in such a short period of time.

“The experience at Birkenau was indescribable, and different to anything I have ever experienced. The atmosphere of the camp was heavy with tragedy. The size and scale of the place cannot be justified by words, it must be experienced.

“The ceremony, hosted by the Rabbi Marcus was invaluable to the experience as it gave a chance for much needed reflection and also the chance to get a deeper insight of the thoughts and feelings of the contemporary Jewish population.”

Another student commented: “Visiting Auschwitz 1 and Auschwitz-Birkenau was such a surreal experience. Actually visiting the camps made everything more real than seeing the images on line. It was shocking to see the personal belongings in Auschwitz 1 where everything was kept behind glass.

“There were two sides of a hallway full of shoes – this made me think of how many were actually brought to these camps and had their innocent lives taken away from them for no apparent reason. Five minutes away was Birkenau, the death camp of wooden barracks – although many had been torn down by now.

“The living conditions in this camp were disgusting and brutal. To think people were made to live like this is totally beyond me and I dare even to think why something as horrible as this ever happened to begin with. 6 million murdered in the Holocaust – people with families and friends and lives, they had it all taken away from them by other human beings. It makes me wonder if humanity could go any lower.”

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Covid-19 vaccination venues and timeline announced for everyone locally over 50

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EVERY person in JCVI priority groups 5 to 9 will be offered a COVID-19 vaccination by 18 April, Hywel Dda University Health Board has confirmed.

While the health board’s vaccination programme has the capacity to offer a vaccine to everyone in groups 5 to 9 by the original target date of 4 April, the delivery plan has had to be adjusted based on confirmed vaccine deliveries.

Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, and Pembrokeshire residents in priority groups 5 to 9 can expect to receive their vaccine as follows:

  • Group 5, people aged 65 – 69 years – delivered by GP practices between 15 February and 12 March
  • Group 6, people aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions and unpaid carers – delivered by GP practices between 22 February and 4 April
  • Group 7, people aged 60 – 64 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 8 March
  • Group 8, people aged 55 – 59 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 22 March
  • Group 9, people aged 50 – 54 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 5 April

The health board currently has mass vaccination centres located in Aberystwyth, Cardigan, Haverfordwest, Tenby, Carmarthen and Llanelli.

Group 6 is significantly the largest cohort to be vaccinated to date and we understand that many in this group will be anxious to receive a vaccine. Please do not contact your GP or the health board to ask about your appointment, you will be contacted directly when it is your turn and we thank you for your patience.

People in groups 7, 8 and 9 will receive a letter with an appointment date and time. Please arrive as close to your appointment time as possible. The letter will include a phone number to contact the health board should you need to rearrange or cancel your appointment but please make every effort to keep your allocated appointment time.

Steve Moore, Chief Executive of Hywel Dda UHB, said: “While  our programme has had to slow  due to supplies, we want to reassure everyone in groups 5 to 9 that our amazing teams of vaccinators and GP practices have the capability and flexibility to deliver our vaccine supplies as they arrive into the region.

“Vaccine supplies will start to increase again from mid-March, and we are confident that everyone living in our three counties in the top 9 priority groups will be offered a vaccine by mid-April.

“In Hywel Dda we have an older population compared to some other health boards and so over 50% of our adult population will have been offered a vaccine by milestone 2.

“To be able to say that as we approach the anniversary of the first national lockdown is nothing short of extraordinary.

“And again, I must say thank you to everyone living in our three counties who continue to come forward in substantial numbers for the vaccine. Uptake remains remarkably high and we hope to see this continue through groups 5 to 9 and into group 10.”

People are asked, wherever possible, to use their own private transport to attend an appointment. Lifts can be accepted from someone in their household or support bubble, but not from anyone else due to the risk of transmission of the virus.

The health board has put in place transport support for anyone who may have difficulty attending their vaccination appointment. If you have no other means of travel, please contact the health board on 0300 303 8322 and we will be happy to assist.

Everyone in priority groups 1 to 4 should have received an offer of a vaccination. If you have not been contacted, or have changed your mind, please contact your GP at the earliest opportunity. No one will be left behind.

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Nolton Haven: Man hospitalised after getting into difficulties in sea

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A MAN was taken to hospital after getting into difficulties in the sea off Nolton Haven on Friday.

Emergency services were alerted at 2.40pm on February 26 by a 999 call to the control centre.

The Little Haven RNLI lifeboat, Broad Haven Coastguard, an ambulance crew and a Coastguard rescue helicopter assisted police in the operation.

The male casualty was stabilised on the beach and shortly before 4.30pm, was then transported to Withybush Hospital.

A police spokesman told The Herald: “We were called to a male who had got into difficulties in the water at Nolton Haven shortly before 3pm.

“He was taken to hospital by ambulance.”

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Cyclist killed on A40 was serving police officer, force confirms

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A CYCLIST who died after a crash with a van on the A40 in Carmarthenshire was a serving police officer with Dyfed-Powys Police, the force has confirmed in a statement to Herald.Wales.

The driver of the van involved in the crash, which happened on Thursday (Feb 25) has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving, it was confirmed on Friday (Feb 26).

Police are investigating the fatal collision, which caused the road to be closed for 12 hours, and are asking for any witnesses to come forward by calling 101.

37-year-old Lynwen Thomas, who is a former student at Ysgol Bro Myrddin, Croes-y-Ceiliog, Carmarthen, was a sergeant and a very well-respected member of Dyfed-Powys Police.

A spokesperson for the police said in a statement: “Our thoughts are with her family, friends and colleagues, who have all been offered specialist support. We ask that family members are given the privacy they need at this difficult time.”

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