A Scottish missionary who gave her life to help protect Jewish schoolgirls during the Second World War is set to be honoured with a march of 10,000 people through Budapest to mark Hungary’s Holocaust Memorial Day.
Jane Haining, who died at the Auschwitz II Birkenau concentration camp from starvation and bad living conditions in 1944 when she was 47, worked as a matron of a boarding house for Jewish girls in Budapest, Hungary.
She was advised to return to the UK three times by the British government but refused, having found her ‘life work’ in helping Jewish schoolchildren.
Jane Haining, who died at the Auschwitz II Birkenau concentration camp from starvation and bad living conditions in 1944, worked as a matron of a boarding house for Jewish girls in Budapest, Hungary
She was advised to return to the UK three times by the British government but refused, having found her ‘life work’ in helping Jewish schoolchildren
Ms Haining (right) was arrested by the Gestapo in 1944 and taken to Auschwitz concentration camp where she died three months later
Ms Haining has been awarded multiple honours including British Hero of the Holocaust (left). Dunscore church in Dumfries and Galloway have also got a memorial to Ms Haining outside which dubs her ‘a heroic Christian martyr’ (right)
Auschwitz concentration camp saw the deaths of at least 1.1million people during the Second World War. An inscription reads ‘For ever let this place be a cry of despair and a warning to humanity’
Agnes Rostas, 83, an old pupil of Ms Haining’s in Budapest from WWII said that the last words Ms Haining said to a room of sobbing children were: ‘Don’t worry, I’ll be back by lunch’
Ms Haining was the only British person at the school when she was captured by the Gestapo in 1944 and taken to Auschwitz.
She died at the concentration camp three months later.
When she was arrested she had eight charges put against her including weeping while putting yellow Stars of David on Jewish schoolchildren in her care and firing an Aryan housekeeper.
According to the Church of Scotland, an old pupil of Ms Haining’s who was just eight years old at the time, Agnes Rostas, 83, said that on the day she was arrested she told her classroom of sobbing pupils: ‘Don’t worry, I’ll be back by lunch’.
Ms Rostas said: ‘From April 5, we had to put on the yellow star.
‘Ms Haining called in the children and she cried with us
‘She was a very warm-hearted human being. I have never met anyone like her all my life.’
10,000 people are believed to be attending the march in a candlelit procession to commemorate those who died in the Holocaust
Israel’s Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem estimates that 565,000 Hungarian Jews were killed in the Holocaust
Within half an hour of Haining’s arrest, the remaining teachers packed up the children and shuttled them off to their parents, Rostas said.
The March of the Living procession will honour and commemorate her work.
Scottish Secretary of State, David Mundell, has been asked to speak at the event and lead the march.
He told the BBC it was a ‘huge honour and a great privilege’ and described Ms Haining as an ‘extraordinary, brave and selfless woman’.
Israel’s Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem estimates that 565,000 Hungarian Jews were killed in the Holocaust and at least 1.1million people were killed at Auschwitz.
Reverend Aaron Stevens, the head of the Scottish mission to Budapest, said Sunday’s march remembering Haining presented an opportunity to speak up against prejudice, intolerance or fearmongering.
‘Sometimes when we look at the messages people are promoting today about foreigners, it is not that different from the messages that were being spread about Jews some 75 years ago,’ Stevens said.
‘(Haining’s) example is a reminder to us to not become complacent or lazy,’ he said. ‘We also need to speak up and stand up in solidarity with those who might be victims of prejudice.’
Scottish Secretary of State, David Mundell, has been asked to speak at the event and lead the march. He told the BBC it was a ‘huge honour and a great privilege’
Mr Mundell described Ms Haining as an ‘extraordinary, brave and selfless woman’
Jane Haining 1897-1944 ‘British Hero of the Holocaust’
Jane Haining (1897-1944) died at Auschwitz II-Birkenau concentration camp after she was arrested by the Gestapo while working as a Scottish missionary helping Jewish schoolchildren
Jane Haining was born in Dunscone near Dumfries in Scotland in 1897.
During a meeting in 1927 in Glasgow about the Jewish Mission she is believed to have turned to a friend accompanying her and said: ‘I have found my life work’.
She went to Budapest in 1932 and worked as the matron of a boarding house for Jewish and Christian girls in a school run by the Scottish Mission.
After the Second World War started in 1939, the Church of Scotland warned Ms Haining three times that it would be best to come back to the UK but she continually refused and decided to stay in Hungary to continue helping the Jewish children.
She was eventually captured by the Gestapo in 1944 and taken to Auschwitz where she died three months later.
While the exact cause of her death remains unknown it is believed that she died from a combination of starvation and the horrific conditions prisoners were forced to live in at the concentration camp.
According to one of Ms Haining’s fellow prisoners, Francis W Lee, she had eight charges put against her by the Gestapo.
These included: Working among Jews, weeping while putting yellow Stars of David on the Jewish girls in her care, dismissing an Aryan housekeeper, listening to BBC news broadcasts, having British visitors, being active in politics, visiting British prisoners of War and sending them parcels.
While working in Auschwitz Ms Haining wrote postcards to one of her friends from the mission school.
In her last letter she is reported to have signed off by saying: ‘There is not much to report here on the way to heaven’.
In 1997 Ms Haining was named Righteous Among Nations – an honour reserved for non-Jewish people who risked their lives to help Jews during WWII. Just 22 other British people have received the same honour.
Her name is inscribed on a wall of honour in the Garden of the Righteous in Israel.
In 2010 Budapest named a section of their embankment after Ms Haining and the British Government named her a British Hero of the Holocaust.
Dunscore church in Dumfries where Jane Haining grew up