New project remembers ‘living legacy’ of Scottish man who died in Auschwitz

A new group has been set up to promote the “living legacy” of a Scottish woman who gave her life to protect Jewish schoolgirls during the Holocaust.

The Jane Haining Project was formed by a cohort of Christians and Jews who believe her story is highly relevant today in light of growing levels of anti-Semitism, racism and intolerance.

Miss Haining and “her” daughters

It is developing plans with public agencies to launch a national essay writing competition in Scottish secondary schools and a digital heritage trail app for notable places linked to the missionary Kirk, who died at Auschwitz, and the Jewish community.

Speaking on Holocaust Memorial Day, the Reverend Ian Alexander, a member of the project committee, said: “Jane Haining has shown extraordinary courage in the face of intolerable harm and her heartbreaking and inspiring story is more important today than ever.

“We hope that the two exciting core activities that are currently being developed will help keep his memory alive for generations to come.”

Miss Haining was the matron of the Scottish Mission School in Budapest, Hungary, and refused to give up “her daughters” after the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, despite knowing her life was in danger.

She was determined to continue doing her duty and said, “If these children need me on sunny days, how much more do they need me on dark days?”

Jane Hainer
Jane Hainer

The farmer’s daughter from the village of Dunscore in Dumfries and Galloway started working at the school, which had around 400 day and board pupils aged 6 to 16, most of them Jewish, in 1932.

Miss Haining was on holiday in the UK when war broke out and immediately returned to Budapest to be with “her” daughters.

She managed to help keep the children, many of whom had been abandoned by their families, safe through four long years of hardship until she was betrayed by the Mission’s cook’s son-in-law, a future SS soldier called Schreder, whom she caught stealing. rare food for girls.

“Don’t worry, I’ll be back for lunch”

Miss Haining was arrested by ‘German officers’ in April 1944 and former pupil Agnes Rostas, who witnessed the incident, revealed her haunting last words to sobbing children were ‘Don’t worry, I I’ll be back for lunch.”

She was charged with eight misdemeanors – working among Jews; cry when seeing the girls attend class wearing yellow stars; dismiss his governess; listen to news bulletins on the BBC; have many British visitors; be active in politics; visit British POWs and send parcels to British POWs.

Miss Haining vehemently denied speaking or meddling in politics and after spending time imprisoned in Budapest she was transported by rail in a cattle car with around 90 other people to Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland occupied by the Nazis on May 14, 1944.

The 47-year-old, who suffered from poor health, was given the number 79467 and was likely forced into slave labor with women who would have worked in mines for 14 hours a day on a food allowance of two clear soup bowls. Up to 300 women are said to have slept in a single barracks.

Miss Haining died on July 17, 1944, with the Germans claiming that she had been hospitalized and succumbed to cachexia following intestinal catarrh, but there are doubts about the validity of this “official” claim.

The Jane Haining Project emerged from the West Scotland branch of the Council of Christians and Jews (CCJ) after author Mary Miller gave a talk on her book, Jane Haining: A Life of Love and Courage .

The committee is made up of 10 members including Ms Miller and is chaired by Professor Anne Anderson, former Vice-Principal of the University of Glasgow.

Jane Haining died in Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1944 at the age of 47.

James Roberts, CCJ’s Christian program manager, supports the group and said the main aim is to bring people together.

“Jane Haining’s story is one young people can relate to and it evokes a strong emotional response,” he added.

“By refusing to be a bystander, she demonstrated her benevolence, her sense of fairness, justice and solidarity and her contempt for discrimination in her refusal to treat her Jewish students as ‘the other’.

“With this in mind, the project aims to increase understanding, acceptance and kindness between people from different cultures and religious backgrounds and to empower people to speak out against prejudice and take action to challenge stigma. anti-Semitism and discrimination.

“The Jane Haining Schools competition will center on her inspirational life and be accompanied by a suite of appropriate Holocaust teaching resources and will seek to connect her story to contemporary issues.

“We are in the early stages of development and hope to work with a group of teachers in pilot schools to create the materials that will also draw on the expertise of Holocaust educators and people who know the history of the Holocaust. Miss Haining.”


Mr Roberts said the Jane Haining Project would like to publish the winning essays, create online video blogs and encourage schools across Scotland to share them and discuss the missionary’s story and legacy. during assemblies.

“We hope we can work to get the resources incorporated into the national curriculum as teaching about the Holocaust is not compulsory in Scotland whereas it is in England,” he added.

As well as Dunscore, Jane Haining has links to Dumfries, Glasgow and Paisley and Mr Roberts said a heritage trail would allow people to connect with its history in a meaningful and tangible way as well as learn more about Scottish Jewish heritage.

Holocaust heroes
The Christian martyr was posthumously honored by the British government for “preserving life in the face of persecution” and is the only Scot to be officially recognized at Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Israel.

Miss Haining’s selfless bravery led to her posthumously being awarded a Holocaust Hero Medal by the British government.

She is the only Scottish woman to be named a Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, Israel’s memorial to the victims of the Holocaust.

Her life is celebrated at Dunscore Church and Queen’s Park Govanhill Church in Glasgow – the church she attended when she lived in the city before moving to Budapest.

Last year a new residential street in Loanhead, Midlothian was named “Haining Park” in his memory.

Holocaust Memorial Day is celebrated on January 27 every year.

Soviet troops liberated Auschwitz-Birkenau, where more than 1.1 million people were murdered, 90% of them Jews, on this day in 1945.

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