Jane Haining was matron of the Scottish Mission girls’ boarding school in Budapest, Hungary, from 1932-1944 and refused to abandon the Jewish girls in her care, many of whom were orphans.
She sheltered them for more than four years until she was arrested and eventually taken to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland, where she died in hospital at the age of 47, six months before it was liberated in 1945. The cause of her death is not known.
Ms Haining helped women to flee the growing Nazi threat by helping them find jobs as domestic servants. Originally from Dunscore in Dumfriesshire, she was eventually arrested by the Gestapo in 1944 and taken to the extermination camp.
Anne, patron of the Scots in London Association, said: “Jane Haining is an inspirational subject whose devotion to duty is a lesson to us all.
“Jane’s determination and resolution in looking after her young charges at the Scottish Mission School in Budapest, at the eventual cost of her own life, is an example of service over self that deserves to be told and remembered."
The life of Miss Haining will be discussed in a online lecture tonight by Mary Miller, who has written a book about her, with the event hosted by St Columba’s Church in London.
Ahead of the event, The Princess added: “The lecture by Mary Miller, who herself has looked after deprived children in Glasgow, will be poignant but we can take heart from the knowledge that Jane’s life will be honoured.”
The lecture, called “An Inspiring Tale of Quiet Heroism”, was organised in partnership with the Scots in London Association.
Miss Haining was posthumously awarded a Heroine of the Holocaust medal and named Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.
Reverend Angus MacLeod, minister of St Columba’s Church, said: “The story of Jane Haining, an ordinary yet extraordinary Christian woman, is incredibly moving and inspiring.
“It was decided that it would be fitting that the Caledonian Lecture this year focused on her because 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
“I am very pleased that, despite the restrictions of the Covid-19 lockdown, we are able to host it at St Columba’s with Mary Miller speaking to us from her home in Scotland.
Speaking after the launch of her book – Jane Haining: A Life Of Love And Courage – last year, Mrs Miller said: “She did not compromise, and in our own difficult times there is a challenge there for all ordinary people tempted to look away from evil and find reasons to say ‘there is nothing we can do’.
“Jane Haining reminds us that there is always something we can do.”
A memorial cairn to Jane Haining stands outside Dunscore Parish Church and a tribute to her life, which features letters, photographs and some of her personal effects, can be found inside.
Last year, thousands of people took part in a torchlit March of the Living in Budapest with the event, which commemorates more than 500,000 Jews from the country who were killed by the Nazis. Ms Haining was also honoured.