Heritage centre to be opened to honour Scots Holocaust heroine

Jane Haining, who gave her life to help protect Jewish schoolgirls during the Holocaust. Picture: PA
Jane Haining, who gave her life to help protect Jewish schoolgirls during the Holocaust. Picture: PA
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A new heritage centre is to be opened to celebrate a Scot who gave her life to help protect Jewish schoolgirls during the Holocaust.

Jane Haining’s story of heroism, bravery and personal sacrifice - which resulted in her dying at Auschwitz in 1944 at the age of 47 - will be celebrated at the facility within Dunscore Church near Dumfries.

The centre, part-funded by a £106,400 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Historic Environment Scotland (HES), is expected to open later this year.

The Church of Scotland said the exhibition will feature photographs, letters, documents and other items linked to the Kirk missionary, who was born near the village in 1897 and attended the Craig Church in Dunscore.

A copy of her handwritten last will and testament, which was found in Church of Scotland offices in Edinburgh last year, is also expected to go on display.

The centre will further focus on the village and the history of Dunscore Church. The A-listed building dates back to 1823.

The grant money will also be used to carry out urgent repairs to the roof, walls and windows.

The development has been welcomed by Rev Ian Alexander, secretary of the Church of Scotland’s World Mission Council.

• READ MORE: Scots Auschwitz heroine Jane Haining’s bravery revealed

He said Miss Haining’s story was heart-breaking and inspirational.

“This is an exciting development for Dunscore congregation,” he said.

“The heritage centre will include information on the life of Jane Haining, a woman who was simultaneously ordinary and extraordinary, and will highlight how her life in the church, the village and the community shaped her, and prepared her for her future work.”

Miss Haining was matron at the Scottish Mission school in Budapest between 1932 and 1944.

A keen listener of BBC radio, she was aware of the growing threat the Nazis posed to the Hungarian Jews in the 1940s but was determined to ensure the school was a place where all children would feel safe.

Miss Haining was repeatedly ordered by church officials to return to Scotland but refused, saying the children needed her in the “days of darkness”.

She was arrested by two Gestapo officers in Budapest and later died at Auschwitz Birkenau, the notorious Nazi death camp.

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