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Church archive casts fresh light on Scottish missionary who died in Auschwitz

by Aaron James

The will of Jane Haining was found as part of a "priceless" church archive in Edinburgh, offering a glimpse into the life of the "Christian martyr" who died in 1944 at the age of 47.

Miss Haining, from Dumfriesshire, died in the notorious camp after refusing to leave the Jewish girls she was protecting at a church-run school in Budapest, Hungary.

She was arrested by two Gestapo officers in Budapest and charged with working amongst Jews, listening to news broadcasts on the BBC and sending British prisoners of war parcels.

She is the only Scot to be officially honoured at the Yad Vashem memorial in Israel for giving her life to help protect Jews during the Holocaust.

The material was discovered in a box at the Church of Scotland World Mission Council's archive in Edinburgh.

Jane Haining's will
Jane Haining (back second left) during a trip to Lake Balaton with some of the girls in her care

The Rev Ian Alexander, secretary of the Council, said: "Jane Haining was a matron in the girl's home of the Scottish Mission and her story is one of heroism and personal sacrifice.

"Scottish missionaries were advised to return home from Europe during the dark days of the Second World War, but Jane declined and wrote: 'If these children need me in days of sunshine, how much more do they need me in days of darkness?'"

This weekend marks the 175th anniversary of the Church of Scotland Mission in Budapest, which was home to a sizeable middle-class Jewish population in the 1930s.

At least 1.1 million people died in Auschwitz.

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