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British holidaymaker, 33, fights for life on ventilator in Greek hospital

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british holidaymaker 33 fights for life on ventilator in greek hospital

A British holidaymaker is fighting for his life on a ventilator in Greece after contracting acute pancreatitis at his sister’s dream destination wedding. 

Peter O’Malley, 33, from Leeds, flew to sunny Rhodes to attend the wedding of his NHS nurse sister Steph Burton, 26 – after her June nuptials were cancelled due to the coronavirus crisis.

But, just two days after the ceremony, Mr O’Malley started struggling to breathe and was rushed to Rhodes General Hospital in agonizing pain.

His condition – which is not related to Covid-19 – got rapidly worse overnight. He was diagnosed with acute pancreatitis and placed on a ventilator.

Although doctors in Greece say he’s ‘just about well enough to fly back’, his insurance won’t cover the cost of an emergency flight.

They claim this is because his condition could be ’caused by the alcohol he had on the all inclusive’ but Mrs Burton fears they are using a ‘loophole to get out of paying’.

British holidaymaker Peter O'Malley, 33, is fighting for his life on a ventilator in Greece after contracting acute pancreatitis at his sister's dream destination wedding. Pictured: Mr O'Malley with his sister Steph Burton, 26, at the wedding

Mr O'Malley, Mrs Burton and their mother Tracie Seaward

British holidaymaker Peter O’Malley, 33, is fighting for his life on a ventilator in Greece after contracting acute pancreatitis at his sister’s dream destination wedding. Left: Mr O’Malley with his sister Steph Burton, 26, at the wedding. Right: Mr O’Malley, Mrs Burton and their mother Tracie Seaward

The family have since launched a desperate appeal to raise £28,000 for a private flight to bring him home to the NHS themselves.

Mr O’Malley’s mother Tracie Seaward told MailOnline: ‘It’s so hard seeing him like this. He’s my baby and as a mum I feel powerless seeing my baby on a ventilator.

‘We were only able to see him for five minutes. When I saw him like that I was too upset to even speak.

‘All I could do was stroke his feet and will him to pull through. It’s awful seeing your baby in pain like that.’

Mr O’Malley has an older brother Martin, 36, who’s sons Lucas, nine, and Max, five, are adored by their uncle. 

Ms Seaward continued: ‘Martin was saying “come on Peter, pull your finger out and get better”, but I knew I’d break down if I tried to say something.

Mr O'Malley has an older brother Martin, 36, who's sons Lucas, nine, and Max, five, are adored by their uncle (pictured together)

Mr O’Malley has an older brother Martin, 36, who’s sons Lucas, nine, and Max, five, are adored by their uncle (pictured together)

‘I just sat there stroking him and crying. I’m not going to fly back without him, not unless I have no choice.

‘I was so proud to see one child get married the other day, and now I feel like my world is ending because another might die.’

Mr O’Malley has always been close to his sister Mrs Burton – a nurse at Mid Yorkshire NHS Trust who worked on the coronavirus frontline this year.

She has two-year-old son Blake whose middle name is ‘Peter’, after his uncle.

Ms Seaward added: ‘When Peter first got sick the other day, Steph was great at keeping him calm.

‘I was standing in the corridor listening to her help him breath.

Mr O'Malley, 33, from Leeds, flew to sunny Rhodes to attend the wedding of his NHS nurse sister Mrs Burton, 26 - after her June nuptials were cancelled due to the coronavirus crisis. Pictured: Jordon Burton (Mr O'Malley's brother-in-law), Mr O'Malley's  nephew Blake, Mr O'Malley and Mrs Burton

Mr O’Malley, 33, from Leeds, flew to sunny Rhodes to attend the wedding of his NHS nurse sister Mrs Burton, 26 – after her June nuptials were cancelled due to the coronavirus crisis. Pictured: Jordon Burton (Mr O’Malley’s brother-in-law), Mr O’Malley’s  nephew Blake, Mr O’Malley and Mrs Burton

But, just two days after the ceremony, Mr O'Malley (back centre with friends) started struggling to breathe and was rushed to Rhodes General Hospital in agonizing pain

But, just two days after the ceremony, Mr O’Malley (back centre with friends) started struggling to breathe and was rushed to Rhodes General Hospital in agonizing pain

‘I’m not a medical professional so I didn’t want to interfere, I was just standing there willing him to stay alive for the ambulance.

WHAT IS ACUTE PANCREATITIS? 

 Acute pancreatitis occurs when the pancreas – an organ behind the stomach which aides digestion – becomes inflamed in a short amount of time.

Sufferers usually see an improvement in symptoms in about a week – however things can get serious in some cases.

It can be caused by excessive alcohol drinking or gallstones – but the cause can remain unclear.

 Symptoms include diarrhoea, nausea and sudden, intense pain in the middle of the abdomen.

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‘Growing up, Pete always stuck up for Steph, he never let anyone pick on her – so it’s a bit of a role reversal now with her looking after him.

‘It’s an awful situation, but it makes me so proud to see how much she’s doing for him.’ 

Mrs Burton opted to stay in Greece to be with her brother instead of flying back with her new husband and son earlier this week.

She said: ‘He’s a joker, not got a serious bone in his body. He’s like a big kid. He’s amazing with Blake, he absolutely adores him. We gave Blake ‘Peter’ as a middle name and Peter was chuffed – he said he was honoured.

‘I was always the annoying little sister following him around when he was out with his mates, but he looked after me regardless.

‘I’ve worked through the pandemic so I know what ventilators are like, but when it’s your big brother it’s a different world. Seeing him like that was a punch in the gut.

‘I feel awful already, he’s over here because of my wedding and now he’s fighting for his life.

‘The June wedding was cancelled because of Covid so this was supposed to be a new start.

‘Everyone’s had a tough year and we were hoping for a nice time so we could move on.

‘I didn’t expect it to become a nightmare like this. If something happened to him while I was flying home I couldn’t forgive myself.

Mr O'Malley has always been close to his sister Mrs Burton (pictured as children) - a nurse at Mid Yorkshire NHS Trust who worked on the coronavirus frontline this year

Mr O’Malley has always been close to his sister Mrs Burton (pictured as children) – a nurse at Mid Yorkshire NHS Trust who worked on the coronavirus frontline this year

‘My mum’s lost, she’s on the verge. She’s very upset and just wants to get him home.

‘The health system over here is really different and the language barrier is a challenge.

‘The doctors say he’s just about well enough to fly back, but the insurance company won’t pay for it.

‘They say he’s not covered because it might have been caused by the alcohol he had on the all inclusive.

‘But the Greek doctors don’t know what caused it. They said they can’t know for sure, but somehow the insurance company know what’s wrong. I feel like they’re using a loophole to get out of paying.’ 

To donate to the family’s appeal to bring Mr O’Malley home, click here

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Are Covid-19 outbreaks slowing down in university towns? Analysis

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are covid 19 outbreaks slowing down in university towns analysis

Half of England’s major university towns are already coming out of the other side of their coronavirus outbreaks, analysis of official data suggests.

Major university towns, defined as having more than 20,000 students but excluding London, saw infections skyrocket at the end of September when students and teachers returned to education in their droves. 

The arrival and mingling of thousands of strangers from different parts of the country is thought to have exacerbated the virus’ spread in these areas and helped the disease migrate into the wider community.

But the average number of cases being recorded each day is now declining in nine of the 18 largest university towns, according to analysis of figures from Public Health England. The promising statistics show the six areas where the virus surged the most at the start of the new term – Manchester, Newcastle, Liverpool, Nottingham, Leeds and Sheffield – are all reporting fewer infections than a week ago. And in the university towns where cases are still on the up, the rate at which they are increasing has began to decelerate.

The rolling seven-day average number of daily cases in Newcastle – where university students make up almost a fifth of the city’s 270,000-strong population – is currently 150.7, according to figures up to October 12, the most recent snapshot. This was down by a third from the 236 daily infections reported the week before. 

The rolling seven-day average is considered the most accurate way to assess outbreaks because it takes into account day-today fluctuations in infections. Nottingham – the country’s current Covid-19 hotspot – saw average daily cases fall by almost 30 per cent in the same period – from 476.1 to 338.3. 

In Manchester – which is poised to be plunged into a ‘Tier Three’ lockdown later today – the rolling seven-day average number of cases has been falling since September 28. On that date, the city was recording 419 cases a day, but this has since fallen to 335.4. The downward trend will raise doubts about whether the harshest lockdown bracket is really justified. 

Sheffield and Leeds, two other hotspots where local leaders are in crunch talks with Government about tightening Covid-19 restrictions, have seen cases steadily fall for a week, suggesting a downwards trend rather than a blip. Sheffield saw its average daily cases tumble from 414.4 on October 5 to 328.7 by October 12, while Leeds’ daily cases fell from 483.6 to 419 in the same time period.

Exeter – which ducked tougher lockdown restrictions because officials ruled outbreaks there were confined to student halls of residence – saw one of the most dramatic drops in daily cases in the week up to October 12, with infections nearly halving from 77.9 to 41.9.

The rolling seven-day average number of daily cases in Newcastle - where university students make up almost a fifth of the city's 270,000-strong population - is currently 150.7, according to figures up to October 12, the most recent snapshot. This was down by a third from the 236 daily infections reported the week before

The rolling seven-day average number of daily cases in Newcastle – where university students make up almost a fifth of the city’s 270,000-strong population – is currently 150.7, according to figures up to October 12, the most recent snapshot. This was down by a third from the 236 daily infections reported the week before

Nottingham - the country's current Covid-19 hotspot - saw average daily cases fell by almost 30 per cent in the same period - from 476.1 to 338.3

Nottingham – the country’s current Covid-19 hotspot – saw average daily cases fell by almost 30 per cent in the same period – from 476.1 to 338.3

In Manchester - which is poised to be plunged into a 'Tier Three' lockdown later today - the rolling seven-day average number of cases has been falling since September 28. On that date, the city was recording 419 cases a day, but this has since fallen to 335.4. The downward trend will raise doubts about whether the harshest lockdown bracket is really justified

In Manchester – which is poised to be plunged into a ‘Tier Three’ lockdown later today – the rolling seven-day average number of cases has been falling since September 28. On that date, the city was recording 419 cases a day, but this has since fallen to 335.4. The downward trend will raise doubts about whether the harshest lockdown bracket is really justified

Even Liverpool - the country's first 'Tier Three' lockdown city - has seen cases tumble in the past week, from 487.1 to 431.6

Even Liverpool – the country’s first ‘Tier Three’ lockdown city – has seen cases tumble in the past week, from 487.1 to 431.6

Sheffield saw its average daily cases drop from 414.4 on October 5 to 328.7 by October 12. Cases have been falling steadily for a week, suggesting a downwards trend rather than a blip

Sheffield saw its average daily cases drop from 414.4 on October 5 to 328.7 by October 12. Cases have been falling steadily for a week, suggesting a downwards trend rather than a blip

Leeds' daily cases fell from 483.6 to 419 in the same time period. Local leaders in Leeds are in crunch talks with Government about tightening Covid-19 restrictions

Leeds’ daily cases fell from 483.6 to 419 in the same time period. Local leaders in Leeds are in crunch talks with Government about tightening Covid-19 restrictions

HOW HAS THE ROLLING SEVEN-DAY AVERAGE NUMBER OF CASES CHANGED WEEK-ON-WEEK IN MAJOR UNIVERSITY TOWNS?

From left to right, the list reads: name of university town; average daily cases in the seven days to October 12; average daily cases in the seven days to October 5; average daily cases in the seven days to September 28.

Birmingham 

Brighton 

Bristol

Cambridge 

Coventry 

Exeter 

Leeds 

Leicester 

Liverpool 

Manchester 

Newcastle 

Nottingham 

Oxford

Portsmouth 

Preston 

Salford 

Sheffield 

Southampton

343

34.6

136.6

22

93.4

41.9

419

109.7

431.6

335.4

150.7

338.3 

26.7

37.7

79.3

155.7

328.7

21.3 

301

34.7

78

15.6

78.1

77.9

483.6

86.3

487.1 

404

236

476.1

32

23.9

73.6

142.1

414.4

20 

240

17.1

29.4

6.4

47.7

43.1

339.7

62.6

359.1

419

182.1

149.6

23.4

11.4

60.9

103.9

220

12.9 

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Bristol is one of the major university towns that has seen cases continue to climb in the last week, but the its rate is still far below those seen in other hotspots. The city saw average daily cases shoot up from 78 on October 5 to 136.6 on October 12. 

Birmingham is also recording a high number of cases, but its daily cases have only risen by 13 per cent in the last week –  from 301 to 343 – compared to 25 per cent the week before, suggesting the outbreak there is slowing down. 

Similarly, Leicester has seen daily cases shoot up from 86.3 to 109.7. 

Preston (79.3), Cambridge (22), Portsmouth (37.7) and Coventry (93.4) are still recording fewer than 100 cases per day, despite infections rising in the last week. 

Salford is the only other major university town to see an increase, although the week-on-week rise was only 9 per cent. 

More than 22,000 students across England have tested positive for Covid-19 since the start of the new term, according to a report by the University and College Union. 

Thousands more have had to self-isolate in student accommodation and more and more lectures are moving online to reduce face-to-face contact.

The figures suggest the rapid spread of Covid-19 among areas with a high density of student accommodation appears to have halted.

By contrast the places in England recording the biggest growth in case rates are no longer big cities but a mixture of towns and suburbs.

Areas with the largest week-on-week increase in the latest seven-day rates include Gedling, north-east of Nottingham (up from 216.3 to 385.9); Blackburn with Darwen (up from 357.4 to 482.3); Barnsley (up from 225.2 to 348.8); and Blackpool (up from 220.9 to 326.3).

The largely rural borough of Charnwood in Leicestershire, which includes the town of Loughborough – home of Loughborough University – has seen its rate rise from 153.9 to 288.9.

Overall the numbers suggest the geographical hotspots for Covid-19 in England may have tilted away from big cities and towards built-up areas that do not necessarily have densely-housed student populations – and that the virus is now being spread increasingly through community infections rather than circulating largely within student accommodation. 

The finding that many of the big cities and university towns appear past the peak of the virus is being used as ammunition by local leaders and MPs trying to fight off ‘Tier Three’ lockdowns.

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Greater Manchester has been given until noon today to strike a deal with the Government after a week of bitter wrangling over a compensation package if the harsh lockdown restrictions are enforced.

Mayor Andy Burnham blasted the ‘provocative’ deadline this morning but admitted he will have to obey the law if Boris Johnson forces the issue, saying he would put one final number to the ‘penny pinching’ government – which is already thought to be offering the area up to £100million.

Mr Burnham also swiped at ‘selective’ figures highlighted by Downing Street that suggested Greater Manchester hospitals could be overwhelmed within weeks unless tougher action is taken. He insisted intensive care bed occupancy was about normal for this time of year, at 80 per cent.

The high-stakes brinkmanship came as a swathe of the country faces being escalated into the highest lockdown bracket, which means shutting pubs and restaurants as well as a ban on households mixing indoors. Mr Johnson gathered his Cabinet this morning for talks on the raging crisis. 

In a round of interviews this morning, Mr Burnham criticised the late-night statement from Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick laying down the noon ultimatum.

The mayor – who has been demanding support equivalent to the 80 per cent wages furlough scheme for those hit by the lockdown – claimed Greater Manchester leaders had ‘never been given a figure’ for how much funding they would get. And he said they must have carte blanche on how the money is spent.

‘What I’ll be proposing to the Greater Manchester leaders when we meet this morning, quite early, is that we write to the Government setting out what we think a fair figure is for that support, given we’ve been under restrictions for three months and that has taken a real toll on people and businesses here,’ Mr Burnham said.

‘The second thing we would need is full flexibility to support the people that we think are going to need to be supported in a Tier 3 lockdown.’

Mr Burnham said: ‘I don’t think the government should be enforcing or dictating in this way. We need to work together as a country and I have been offering to work with the government all year.

‘Greater Manchester needs to establish a fair financial framework for Tier Three, because there is a chance all parts of England will come under Tier Three at some point over the winter and if the terms aren’t right we are going to see real damage to people’s lives right across the country.

‘This is an issue for everyone and is not just about taking a stand for Greater Manchester.’

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Remarkable story of how decorated Nazi commander’s son joined Israeli army

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remarkable story of how decorated nazi commanders son joined israeli army

His father was a senior Nazi who was personally awarded the Iron Cross by Adolf Hitler. But Bernd Wollschlaeger is a Jewish convert who served in the Israeli military after a remarkable journey of discovery.

Growing up in Bamberg, in the German state of Bavaria, Mr Wollschlaeger was taught that the Holocaust was a lie and that his father, Arthur Wollschlaeger, was a war hero.

Arthur was personally decorated by the Nazi leader for his actions on the Eastern Front, where he served as a tank commander under general Heinz Guderian.

But he did not get the glorious death in battle he expected – he was captured in 1945 and his only son, Bernd, was born in 1958.

Bernd Wollschlaeger (pictured in 2012)

Arthur Wollschlaeger wearing the Iron Cross awarded to him by Adolf Hitler

Bernd Wollschlaeger (pictured in 2012) and his father Arthur (right) proudly wearing the Iron Cross awarded to him by Adolf Hitler 

Arthur Wollschlaeger with his Czech wife Elizabeth. Bernd's mother also felt betrayed by her son but would later visit him in Israel, telling him: 'I see Arthur in you, you became a warrior too.'

Arthur Wollschlaeger with his Czech wife Elizabeth. Bernd’s mother also felt betrayed by her son but would later visit him in Israel, telling him: ‘I see Arthur in you, you became a warrior too.’

Arthur Wollschlaeger, left, with Heinrich Himmler, second from right

Arthur Wollschlaeger, left, with Heinrich Himmler, second from right

‘What he told me was a knight-in-shining-armour story,’ said Bernd, 62.

‘And his war buddies who came to our house at least once a year to celebrate the “good old times” told me that my father was a hero and I should respect him as a hero.

‘So as a little boy – and I was very impressionable like all little boys – I admired him as a hero.

‘But there were question marks in my mind that came up right and left.’

The first clue was right at home.

In a remarkable coincidence of history, the Wollschlaegers lived in a house owned by the widow of Claus von Stauffenberg – the man who tried to assassinate Adolf Hitler.

The Stauffenberg widow lived upstairs and Bernd, who would play with her grandchildren, lived downstairs with his family.

Bernd said: ‘My father referred to Claus as a “traitor.”

Bernd Wollschlaeger with his Israeli-American wife and children in Florida in 2007. He left Israel in 1991 and moved to Florida. Today, he is a family physician in Miami and has three children Tal, 31, Jade, 26, and Natalia, 23 – all raised in the Jewish faith

Bernd Wollschlaeger with his Israeli-American wife and children in Florida in 2007. He left Israel in 1991 and moved to Florida. Today, he is a family physician in Miami and has three children Tal, 31, Jade, 26, and Natalia, 23 – all raised in the Jewish faith

Bernd Wollschlaeger giving a talk in 2018

Bern holding a Torah scroll

Bernd Wollschlaeger giving a talk in 2018 and as a younger man holding a Torah scroll

Bernd Wollschlaeger with senior Israeli politician Avi Dichter

Bernd Wollschlaeger with senior Israeli politician Avi Dichter

‘But his wife, his grandchildren and the pictures I saw in her home upstairs suggested completely the opposite – he was a loving, caring man obviously.

‘So of course I couldn’t intellectualise that yet but there was a question mark: “Why is my father saying that?”‘

But the ‘major turning point’ for Bernd came when Palestinian terrorists massacred 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team – six coaches and five athletes – at the 1972 Summer Games in Munich. 

‘For the first time, at least in my life, the old wounds were opened and we were forced to deal with the past and why it’s such a big deal that Jews are being killed in Germany again,’ said Bernd.

‘I had to ask myself: if such a horrible thing had happened to the Jews – and I didn’t know about the Holocaust or anything of that nature yet – why is my father not talking about it?

‘Why is he so angry?

‘He actually referred to the slaughter of the Israeli athletes, saying, “Look what they do to us again! They, the Jews, are tearing down our reputation to make us look bad.”‘

And the massacre raised another question – if Jews were being killed in Germany again, when had it happened before?

Arthur Wollschlaeger with his wife, Elizabeth, on their wedding day

Arthur Wollschlaeger with his wife, Elizabeth, on their wedding day

Bernd Wollschlaeger as a child on the day of his Holy Communion

Baby Bernd

Bernd Wollschlaeger as a child on the day of his Holy Communion (left) and as a baby (right)

Bernd’s teachers told him the truth.

‘I was not only shocked to hear about it, I was perplexed because my father was a war hero, he must have known something,’ recalled Bernd.

‘I asked him and he told me that this was all a lie, that my teachers were communists and that the Holocaust never happened.’

Arthur Wollschlaeger wearing his Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross

Arthur Wollschlaeger wearing his Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross

And when the 1978 TV series, Holocaust, was broadcast in West Germany a year later, the senior Wollschlaeger dismissed it as ‘Jew propaganda’.

‘I started to fill in the blanks because I suspected there was a big gap – a dark hole that my father didn’t want to shed light on, and the more I read, the more I learned,’ said Bernd.

‘The more I studied, the more I came to the conclusion that my father was a liar.’

It was only when drunk that his father would abandon his lies.

‘He never apologised for what happened to the Jews,’ said Bernd.

‘He told me once the world should be celebrating what the Germans did, because we got rid of the vermin.

‘He said we did the dirty job that nobody wanted to do but everybody was complaining about.’

In later life, Bernd would be shown a picture of his father sat next to Heinrich Himmler, the leading architect of the Holocaust.

He would also learn that his father’s unit would terrorise Jewish villages in Russia, slaughtering the locals, and tearing out pages from the Torahs in the synagogues to use as insulation for their tanks.

Furthermore, he discovered that his father had sent people to their deaths at Auschwitz.

‘He knew exactly what Auschwitz was,’ said Bernd. ‘He participated in the murder of Jews.’

The 1987 funeral of Arthur Wollschlaeger, complete with military honours

The 1987 funeral of Arthur Wollschlaeger, complete with military honours

Determined to learn more about the people his father had persecuted, the young German asked his teacher, a former Jesuit priest, to help him.

The priest took Bernd to an annual interfaith summit organised by the church, designed to bring together Jews and Arabs from Israel.

Bernd recalled: ‘I bonded with an Israeli girl and she said, “If you want to see me again, you have to come to Israel,” which I did three months later.’

He took a train to Italy and a ferry across the Mediterranean, and the girl’s parents welcomed him into their tiny apartment.

It was a transformative experience.

‘They hosted me like a long-lost brother,’ said Bernd.

‘I asked the father how he learned German and he showed me the number tattooed on his forearm, and I was shocked.

‘He didn’t blame me for that, he was a very, very nice man. He was in Auschwitz.

‘He told me, “I don’t hate Germans, but I want to know if they teach you.” And I said, “probably not enough.”

‘And he took me to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, and there I realised the extent of the murder and I broke down emotionally. I cried.’

Claus von Stauffenberg and his wife, Nina, the latter of which lived upstairs from Bernd

Claus von Stauffenberg and his wife, Nina, the latter of which lived upstairs from Bernd

On his return to Bamberg, Bernd offered to help his local Jewish community as a shabbos goy – a gentile who performs certain activities prohibited for Jews during the Sabbath.

He said: ‘I came every Friday and every Saturday, and I did what I thought would be something that was important for me.

‘And the closer I came to this family-of-choice – and I knew the liturgy, the language, the mannerisms – the more distant I felt from my family of origin and it came to a breakup.’

The decisive moment came when he was asked to say kaddish – a Hebrew prayer – at the graveside of an older friend who had passed away with no family of his own.

The man had been a Sonderkommando during the Holocaust – a Jew who was forced, on pain of death, to assist in the murder of his own people – and felt deeply ashamed of it.

‘When I did that, I knew I crossed a line,’ said Bernd. ‘I wasn’t a German anymore.’

He asked Itzhak Rosenberg, then the head of the town’s small Jewish community, to help him undergo conversion.

His application to convert was refused for two years, but eventually Bernd received religious instruction under Rabbi Nathan Peter Levinson.

He said: ‘I underwent an orthodox conversion in Germany in November 1986 and it was a very, very difficult process – not an intellectual endeavour, but an emotional and spiritual endeavour.’

By that time, Bernd had also completed medical school, so he decided he would travel to Israel and serve in its army as a medical officer.

He saw his father one last time the night before he departed.

‘I went to say goodbye the night before I left on January 7,’ said Bernd.

‘He didn’t want to see me. He called me a traitor, he was drunk like always but he called me a traitor. And that was that.’

‘To him, it was really the ultimate betrayal,’ he added.

Arthur Wollschlaeger died in June 1987. He was given a full military funeral.

His last words to his only son were contained in a series of letters sent to him in Israel.

‘I read them 20 years later and they were very gut-wrenching, very angry and very dismissive,’ said Bernd.

‘They were torn between loving me as a son and then losing me as a son.

‘And yet in his will he stated explicitly that I was forbidden to attend his funeral – I wasn’t there anyway.

‘I was also forbidden to carry his name, I was forbidden to approach his graveside and I was called a traitor.’

Bernd’s relationship with his mother, Elizabeth, also suffered.

She had grown up an ethnic German in Czechoslovakia, but lost both her parents and her childhood home in the war.

Her son’s conversion made no sense to her.

‘She was shellshocked,’ said Bernd.

‘She said “how can you identify with the victim” – i.e. the Jews – “when we were all victims?”‘

She developed senile dementia soon after losing her husband, but was able to visit her son in Israel once – in 1990.

When they reunited, Bernd was wearing his army uniform.

He recalled: ‘She looked at me and she said, “I see Arthur in you, you became a warrior too.”‘

He tried to talk about what had passed between them, but it wasn’t to be.

‘I think it was kind of a final way of saying goodbye, by being with her without having a profound discussion anymore,’ he said.

Though his father never recanted Nazism, Bernd – who recounts his spiritual journey in his memoir A German Life – has learned to forgive him.

‘It would be too simple to say that he was an unrepentant Nazi – that would be too simple – but for him the world stopped in 1945,’ said Bernd.

‘He went from being a nationally-celebrated hero to nothing. That was for him a huge setback.

‘He would wear the Knight’s Cross, which was awarded him personally by Adolf Hitler, with pride on Christmas.

Bernd Wollschlaeger, right, at an interfaith summit in 2018

Bernd Wollschlaeger, right, at an interfaith summit in 2018

‘I remember like yesterday: he was standing next to the Christmas tree, there were real candles, a festive atmosphere and the Knight’s Cross round his neck.

‘That was my father.’

He continued: ‘I forgave him for who he was – not for what he did to others – but for who he was to me.

‘I teach my children if anybody is different, you need to embrace the difference and understand it. You cannot hate.

‘But we’re living in a cacophony of madness.

‘Everybody is sitting in an echo chamber, only listening to what they want to listen to, and they don’t communicate and don’t have the ability to talk to each other.

‘We need to return to opening up and being vulnerable and listening to others before we condemn them.

‘If we turn to hatred, it will be hell on Earth. We are already creating hell on Earth now. And I don’t want it to happen.’

Bernd left Israel in 1991, following his then-wife, an Israeli-American, back to the United States before they divorced in 1995.

Today, he is a family physician in Miami, Florida, and has three children Tal, 31, Jade, 26, and Natalia, 23 – all raised in the Jewish faith.

He also remains in touch with his surviving sister, Helga, 59, having already reconciled with his older sister, Christa, before her death in 2006.

As for his father, Arthur Wollschlaeger was laid to rest in Bamberg – just a short distance away from the Jewish section of the cemetery.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Coronavirus Ireland: How does Ireland’s lockdown differ from Northern Irish circuit breaker?

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coronavirus ireland how does irelands lockdown differ from northern irish circuit breaker

The Republic of Ireland has imposed far stricter lockdown restrictions than those in Northern Ireland, including closing gyms, churches and non-essential shops.

People in the Republic also can only go within three miles (5km) of their home for exercise, with no such rules in the North despite ‘unnecessary travel’ being banned.

Police have been carrying out random vehicle checks in border towns to check compliance with the rules in recent weeks – with those in the Republic set to only be allowed to leave home for exercise or essential journeys such as grocery shopping. 

Irish retail groups slammed the ‘baffling’ move to close non-essential stores, with one saying: ‘Despite far higher infection rates, retailers in Northern Ireland continue to trade relatively normally compared to their counterparts in the Republic.’

And hospitality chiefs in Northern Ireland, where pubs and restaurants are also shut, fear they could soon face similarly stricter rules to those coming in for the Republic.

The Republic will enter a second lockdown from tomorrow at midnight for six weeks, after Northern Ireland went into its own four-week ‘circuit breaker’ from last Friday. 

The Republic of Ireland has imposed far stricter lockdown restrictions than those in Northern Ireland, including closing gyms, churches and non-essential shops

The Republic of Ireland has imposed far stricter lockdown restrictions than those in Northern Ireland, including closing gyms, churches and non-essential shops

Two-week half term holiday and gyms still open: Lockdown rules in Northern Ireland

  • Schools: Schools will have an extended half-term break from October 19 to 30. They will be shut to all pupils during these two weeks
  • Childcare: Can still be provided by a registered person or free of charge
  • Gyms, leisure centres and pools: Open for individual training only
  • Outdoor events: No organised events can take place with more than 15 people. Outdoor attractions, country parks and forest parks can remain open
  • Indoor events: Up to 15 people can meet indoors, except in someone’s home. There are exemptions for: a gathering in a workplace; a gathering to provide emergency or medical assistance to any person; a gathering in a place of worship for a religious activity; and elite sports.
  • Travel restrictions: People should ‘avoid all unnecessary travel’ and are asked to walk walk, cycle or use private transport where travel is necessary for work or education.
  • Public transport: Still operating with mandatory face coverings rule
  • Religious services: Places of worship remain open, with a limit of 25 people for wedding and funerals
  • Nursing homes: Care home visits are ‘recommended to be restricted’
  • Retail: All shops can remain open
  • Hotels: Accommodation can be provided for those already resident
  • Workplace: Individuals should work from home unless unable to do so
  • Sport: Indoor sport and outdoor organised contact sport involving household mixing is not permitted, other than at elite level. Outdoor non-contact sport is permitted for all, with a limit of 15 people
  • Pubs and restaurants: Can only be open for takeaway or food delivery
  • Construction: Builders can continue to go into people’s houses
  • Personal services (hairdressers/beauticians): Closed 
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Churches go online but schools stay open: Lockdown rules in the Republic of Ireland

  • Schools: Primary and secondary are due to continue, third-level institutions will move operations online
  • Childcare: Creches continue to operate
  • Gyms, leisure centres and pools: Closed
  • Outdoor events: No organised outdoor events can take place under Level 5. Parks and outdoor playgrounds can remain open with protective measures in place
  • Indoor events: No organised indoor events can take place, with a special exemption for wedding ceremonies which a maximum of 25 guests can attend. People will be allowed to travel outside of their county for a wedding. Galleries and other cultural attractions all remain closed
  • Travel restrictions: People can only leave their homes for essential reasons such as work or grocery shopping or to exercise within 5km of their homes
  • Public transport: Operating at 25% capacity
  • Religious services: Online only with the exception of funerals where ten people can attend
  • Nursing homes: No visitors, unless on compassionate grounds
  • Retail: Essential retailers only
  • Hotels: Limited to existing guests and essential workers
  • Workplace: All except essential workers must work from home
  • Sport: Elite sport such as the GAA Championship and the horse racing and greyhound racing season can proceed behind closed doors. Children can continue outdoor non-contact training
  • Pubs and restaurants: Takeaway only
  • Construction: Continue with existing safety measures
  • Personal services (hairdressers/beauticians): Closed 
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Retail Excellence, the largest retail body in the Republic which represents more than 2,000 firms, has been left fuming at the Government’s lockdown announcement.

Its managing director Duncan Graham said last night: ‘Retailers have been contacting us throughout the day extremely concerned and upset at closing their business for six weeks at the most important trading period of the year.

”Non-essential’ retailers generate over 70 per cent of annual turnover over this quarter and these further restrictions will inevitably push many more businesses into insolvency.’

He gave seven reasons it was a ‘baffling decision’, including that retailers have ‘invested heavily’ in making premises safe this year and have been ‘fully compliant with all government guidelines’.

Mr Graham added: ‘Despite far higher infection rates, retailers in Northern Ireland continue to trade relatively normally compared to their counterparts in the Republic.

‘No other European country has locked down retail in the way this government has done with retailers in Ireland.’

A woman wears a face mask as she walks past a pub in Dublin in the rain yesterday

A woman wears a face mask as she walks past a pub in Dublin in the rain yesterday

People enjoy a drink outside a pub in Dublin yesterday before the new lockdown came in

People enjoy a drink outside a pub in Dublin yesterday before the new lockdown came in

A market trader wearing a visor stands next to her fruit and vegetable stall in Dublin yesterday

A market trader wearing a visor stands next to her fruit and vegetable stall in Dublin yesterday

He said the group estimates more than 60,000 retail employees will lose their jobs as a result of the new measures, joining the 30,000 retail workers who have already been laid off this year.

How the Republic of Ireland reached Level 5

October 1: In a letter to Government, the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) says that: ‘On balance, the NPHET agreed that while the current trajectory of the disease is very concerning, the current epidemiological data does not strongly support a move to Level 3 nationally at this time.’ 

October 2: Dr Holohan arrives at the Department of Health for a lunch to mark the end of Dr Ronan Glynn’s tenure as Acting Chief Medical Officer in his absence. During this engagement, Dr Holohan holds a series of ‘impromptu meetings’ with NPHET colleagues where they discuss the levels of transmission. He is not due to return to work until Monday. 

October 3: Dr Holohan continues to hold meetings with NPHET officials and calls an unscheduled NPHET meeting for the next day. October 4: NPHET recommends the entire country is placed into Level 5 lockdown for four weeks. 

October 5: Government instead opts to move the country to Level 3. 

October 14: The Government announces it will move three border counties – Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan – into Level 4. 

October 15: The NPHET recommends that the Government moves the country into a Level 5 lockdown for a period of six weeks. 

Yesterday: After a weekend of intensive deliberations, the Cabinet finally decides to accept NPHET’s advice and place the country into Level 5 lockdown. 

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There are also concerns over a ‘frenzied shopping experience in the final weeks before Christmas’ if retailers are allowed to open on December 1.

Colin Neill, chief executive of Hospitality Ulster, told MailOnline he was concerned that the rules coming in for the Repbulic could also be imposed on Northern Ireland.

He said: ‘It is a huge concern of us that we go for another lockdown or extend this one. Just continuously locking down is not going to solve this because we’re not being clever.

‘I’m not a scientist – I respect our medical people, I know they’re saying this is science led, but we need it to be data led, we need to get our track and trace right, we need to get our data right.’

He added: ‘It is a worry of mine that we look at it and think, well you know what, we’ll all have to go there.’

Mr Neill added that financial packages have to be a ‘key consideration’, adding: ‘If you deprive people of their livelihood you can’t expect them to live on fresh air.’

In a sombre message to the public last night, Irish Taoiseach Micheál Martin admitted the Level 5 announcement would bring a ‘sense of disappointment, loneliness and despair’ for many.

However, he said there is ‘light’ and ‘hope’ at the end of the tunnel as he urged the nation to ‘pull together’ and follow the rules to suppress the virus over the next six weeks so that families will be able to have a ‘meaningful Christmas’. 

Not ruling out further lockdowns, he called on the nation to ‘dig deep and persevere’, saying the ‘future is in our hands’ but that everyone must take the threat of Covid-19 seriously.

The restrictions – which will see non-essential businesses close, and pubs, cafes and restaurants only allowed to offer takeaway and delivery services – will remain in place until December 1.

Mr Martin said the Government was introducing Level 5 restrictions for the entire country because ‘the evidence of a potentially grave situation arising in the weeks ahead was now too strong’.

In his address to the nation at Government Buildings last night, Mr Martin said: ‘The days are getting shorter and colder but I ask you to remember this: even as the winter comes in, there is hope. And there is light.’

A barber wearing a face mask cuts a customer's hair inside a barber's in Dublin yesterday

A barber wearing a face mask cuts a customer’s hair inside a barber’s in Dublin yesterday

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34583420 8858609 Fatalities remain low with just three deaths recorded on Sunday  a 5 1603188317450

He added: ‘It won’t be the same Christmas that we have enjoyed in years past, but if we all pull together and follow the spirit of these new rules, it will be a very special time and will give us all some respite from the hardship of the last seven months. 

‘If each of us does what is asked of us for a period of just six weeks, we will suppress this virus and we will emerge from these restrictions on December 1.’

He said schools and creches would remain open because ‘we cannot and will not allow our children and young people’s futures to be another victim of this disease’. The Taoiseach added: ‘They need their education.’

On the subject of Covid outbreaks in schools, he said: ‘NPHET are saying transmission rates are very low [in schools], they are safe places.

‘We will provide more resources to ensure schools can cope. Whatever is required.’

The prospect of thousands more people forced out of work as a result was met with criticism from some quarters. 

Members of An Garda Siochana perform random vehicle checks in the village of Muff in County Donegal, on the border with Northern Ireland on September 29

Members of An Garda Siochana perform random vehicle checks in the village of Muff in County Donegal, on the border with Northern Ireland on September 29

Members of An Garda Siochana performing vehicle checks in Co Donegal on September 29

Members of An Garda Siochana performing vehicle checks in Co Donegal on September 29

A member of An Garda Siochana performs a vehicle check in Co Donegal on September 29

A member of An Garda Siochana performs a vehicle check in Co Donegal on September 29

However, the Pandemic Unemployment Payment will be restored to the higher level of €350 for any workers who earn €400 or more a week.

No facemask, Leo? Now that was ‘not thought through’ 

Leo Varadkar broke Covid-19 guidelines by not wearing a mask while seated beside his driver after leaving Government Buildings at the weekend.

The Tánaiste – who infamously said that Dr Tony Holohan’s advice to go to Level 5 two weeks ago was ‘not thought through’ – was pictured openly flouting the rules on mask-wearing on Sunday night.

One rule for him... Tánaiste Leo Varadkar with his driver after leaving Government Buildings in Dublin on Sunday

One rule for him… Tánaiste Leo Varadkar with his driver after leaving Government Buildings in Dublin on Sunday

The images emerged after a meeting involving Coalition top brass to discuss additional Level 5 restrictions following advice from NPHET.

Two public health experts said the Tánaiste – who is himself a former doctor – broke the Covid-19 guidelines, as he was within two metres of his driver and was not wearing a face covering or mask. His driver, however, did take the precaution.

Professor Anthony Staines told the Irish Daily Mail Mr Varadkar was not helping the public health message by breaking pandemic rules. He said: ‘From a messaging point of view, I think every opportunity that any of our politicians take to wear a mask in public is helpful because part of it is about normalising the idea that you are wearing masks to protect yourself and others.

‘We have seen a lot of our politicians not wearing masks. But, I think the message should go to our politicians and others in the public eye that you should wear a mask when possible because it is part of normalising mask-wearing… I know that the Tánaiste has Garda protection so that guard may well be with him almost all the time and may, in effect, be part of his household.’

Beaumont Hospital infectious diseases consultant Professor Sam McConkey did not comment on Mr Varadkar specifically, but did say you must wear a facemask when you are within two metres of someone.

‘Once you are within two metres of someone you don’t live with, you are supposed to be wearing a mask,’ said Professor Sam McConkey.

Prof. Staines went on to say he hopes the Government introduces a rule whereby masks are mandatory at all times outside the home.

A spokeswomen for the Tánaiste said Mr Varadkar ‘makes every effort to comply with the public health guidance when and where it applies’. 

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Reacting to the news last night Retail Ireland, the Ibec group that represents the retail sector, said the move to nationwide Covid Level 5 restrictions was a serious blow to the many ‘non-essential’ retailers that would have to close.

Retail Ireland Director Arnold Dillon said: ‘Many retailers are facing into a deeply uncertain Christmas trading period. Many thousands of businesses will have to close and tens of thousands of retail workers will be out of work.

‘It is important that customers support affected businesses through online and click-and-collect services where possible.

‘While important Government supports are in place, those retailers without a developed online offering are particularly exposed.

‘The restoration of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment will provide important support to many and is very welcome. 

‘It is crucial that these measures work and we are in a place to reopen retail in advance of Christmas. We simply cannot contemplate serious rolling restrictions into the future.’

The Taoiseach added last night: ‘We want to go to Level 3 on December 1. Obviously want to get to R-number [reproduction rate] consistently below 1.

‘We want to see a downward trajectory of cases in terms of the incidence rate.’

Last night 1,031 further Covid-19 cases were confirmed, which was particularly high for a Monday.

Under the new measures, people will be asked to restrict their movements to within a 5km radius of their homes with gardaí given powers to issue fines to those caught breaching travel restrictions.

Exemptions on this will apply to essential workers, such as nurses.

A memo will be brought to Cabinet today by the Minister for Justice Helen McEntee and Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly with details of the graduated fines.

One Cabinet source told the Irish Daily Mail: ‘There was a feeling that enforcement was needed around travel. Public compliance simply isn’t at the levels it was at back in March.’

No social or family gatherings are allowed in homes or gardens, but visits on compassionate grounds and for caring purposes can continue. People from one other household are also permitted to meet outdoors for exercise.

The Taoiseach added that social isolation and anxiety were very ‘real issues’ and therefore those living alone or parenting alone would be able to pair with another household as part of a ‘support bubble’. However, a social bubble with one other household can be outside the 5km travel limit.

Unlike the previous lockdown, construction will also be allowed.

Elite level sports will also be able to continue. Golf courses will be closed. And most non-essential retail, hairdressers, barbers and salons will have to close.

Attendance at weddings will be maintained at 25 guests. Funerals will be limited to ten people.

The public will continue to be asked to work from home, except for essential workers.

Those aged over 70 and the medically vulnerable are advised to stay at home and continue to exercise personal judgment. They should limit engagement to a very small network for short periods of time

The prevalence of Covid-19 cases has been particularly high in some of the border counties

The prevalence of Covid-19 cases has been particularly high in some of the border counties 

34612652 8858609 image m 2 1603192592973

In recognition of the impact of restrictions on children, non-contact training can continue for school-aged children, outdoors, in pods of up to 15.

All other training activities should be individual only.

The measures implemented follow a record number of cases recorded over recent days.

Last night the total Covid cases in Ireland passed the 50,000 mark.

The Cabinet was yesterday forced to bow to pressure from public health chiefs who last Thursday recommended a Level 5 lockdown for six weeks as cases surge.

Customers enjoy a Guinness outside Bittles bar in Belfast last Friday before pubs were shut

Customers enjoy a Guinness outside Bittles bar in Belfast last Friday before pubs were shut

People drink outdoors in Belfast last Friday before the new rules came in for Northern Ireland

People drink outdoors in Belfast last Friday before the new rules came in for Northern Ireland

It was the second time in a fortnight that National Public Health Emergency Team officials had advised the Government to move to the highest level of measures. The Government did not heed the previous advice. Instead they placed the entire country into Level 3 restrictions.

How are other countries handling the rise in Covid cases? 

Here’s a look at the restrictions imposed – or loosened – elsewhere:

France

President Emmanuel Macron announced a 9pm-to-6am curfew for nine cities across France last week as new daily infections peaked at more than 30,000.

The measure came into force on Saturday and is due to last at least four weeks, affecting almost 20 million people.

Germany

German chancellor Angela Merkel has urged people to avoid unnecessary travel, cancel parties and remain at home wherever possible.

Covid-19 case numbers have rapidly climbed over recent weeks, setting a new record of 7,830 on Saturday.

Italy

Restaurants and bars can only operate with table service after 6pm, but can stay open until midnight. Daily infections in Italy have doubled in a week to more than 10,000.

Netherlands

As of last Wednesday, bars and restaurants were closed and the sale of alcohol after 8pm was banned.

Czech Republic

Restrictions include a ban on sports competitions, the closure of bars and restaurants and gatherings limited to six people.

Australia

Restrictions in Melbourne allowing people to travel 5km from home have been increased to 24km. Outdoor gatherings of up to ten people from two households are allowed.

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And last night, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar commented on his previous remarks about the NPHET advice not being ‘thought through’.

He said of his earlier criticism of NPHETs advice to move to Level 5: ‘I was very critical of NPHET. I wasn’t very critical of Dr [Tony] Holohan, although some tried to say I was. I was critical of the way the recommendation was landed on the Irish people… and that it wasn’t thought through… the criticism was valid at the time.

‘What’s changed, we tried Level 3, I think it was worth trying. It doesn’t look like it has worked in Dublin… We had a chance to think things through.’

Speaking on Claire Byrne Live last night, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly also defended the Government’s inaction on NPHET’s advice two weeks ago to go Level 5. He said: ‘We had a Level 2 recommendation from NPHET on a Thursday evening and then we had a Level 5 recommendation 72 hours later. The country would not have been ready, we had no indication that was the case.

‘The timing of six weeks is new. There was modelling done to show how we get out of this, we now have an exit strategy. The Oireachtas has also been put on stand-by to pass emergency legislation to put rent freezes and eviction bans into law. TDs last night were told to prepare to sit throughout the weekend to push through the legislation.

Sources told the Mail that Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien will today bring a memo to Cabinet to introduce a moratorium on evictions. The legislation will stipulate the ban stays in place for the period of the Level 5 lockdown.

The Government is now bracing to provide supports to 200,000 extra people who will be out of work due to the new restrictions.

Last night’s briefing heard moving to Level 5 is costing €200million a week – €1.5billion for six weeks, not taking into account for potential fall in revenue.

But both Minister Donnelly and the Taoiseach did not rule out further lockdowns after December 1.

‘I think we will have Covid-19 with us for the entirety of 2021… Don’t rule out the levels going back up again and the restrictions in the next six months… When we reopened from the first lockdown we got a reasonable stretch,’ Mr Martin said last night.

Mr Martin said the Government cannot stop the virus on its own. ‘There are no laws or powers that can change the nature of this virus,’ he said. 

‘Many people have done everything that has been asked of them. But some have not. As Taoiseach I am asking everyone again to take this threat seriously.’

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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