Exhibition to remember Jane Haining: ‘Righteous Among the Nations’

A missionary, who has been called Scotland’s Oscar Schindler, is to be honoured with a new exhibition in the Holocaust Memorial Centre in Budapest.

Jane Haining

Jane Haining was just 47-years-old when she died in Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp in Nazi-occupied Poland on the 16 August 1947. Her only crime had been to trying to save the lives of Jewish school children during the Second World War.

Now, 73 years after her death, the Scottish Mission boarding school matron, who was posthumously honoured by the UK Government for “preserving life in the face of persecution”, is to be commemorated in her adopted country.

Born near Dunscore, Dumfries and Galloway in 1897 she volunteered for service as a missionary in 1932. She was posted to Budapest where she became matron of the girls’ home at the Scottish Mission School in charge of up to 400 young girls, the majority of whom were Jewish.

When war broke out in September 1939 Haining was holidaying in the UK but immediately rushed back to look after her girls. She ignored orders to return to Scotland and was eventually arrested by the Gestapo in 1944. She was accused of working among Jews and listening to the BBC and was eventually sent to Auschwitz.

According to Zoltan Toth-Heinemann, spokesman for the Holocaust Memorial Centre in Budapest, Haining was a “unique and important” figure and her story needs to be remembered.

“Jane Haining’s story is an important part of the Holocaust history in Budapest and sometimes, for the general public, it might be neglected,” said Mr Toth-Heinemann

“She was unique because all the other players – rescuers, victims and perpetrators – were local people. She was the only one who had the chance to choose if she would stay there and risk her life to save children or just leave and return to Scotland.”

The new exhibition aims to keep her memory alive and educate future generations that sometimes it is important to make a sacrifice.

Rev Ian Alexander, Secretary of the Church of Scotland World Mission Council, described Haining’s story as heart breaking but truly inspirational.

“Scottish missionaries were advised to return home from Europe during the Second World War but Jane declined, writing ‘if these children need me in days of sunshine, how much more do they need me in days of darkness’,” he said.

After the war Jane Haining’s name was inscribed on the Wall of Honor in the Garden of Remembrance at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem commemorating her as ‘Righteous Among the Nations’.

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