Home town honour for Scots missionary killed in Auschwitz

Jane Haining.
Jane Haining.
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The courage of a Scots heroine who died in a Nazi concentration camp will be honoured today, Holocaust Memorial Day, with the official opening of a heritage centre in her memory.

Jane Haining, a Church of Scotland missionary from Dumfries-shire, died in Auschwitz after being arrested for protecting Jewish girls in her care at the Scottish Mission School in Budapest, Hungary.

Ms Haining had refused to return home after war broke out, despite advice from church officials, saying the children needed her in the “days of darkness”.

Her story is being highlighted at Dunscore Church in Dumfries and Galloway with a room featuring photographs, letters, documents and other personal belongings.

Ms Haining’s niece, Deirdre McDowell, from London­derry, Northern Ireland, will unveil a Historic Environment Scotland plaque in memory of Ms Haining.

Ms McDowell said: “It is a fitting tribute to Jane’s memory that a heritage centre has been opened in the village where she was born.

“The people of Dunscore have been wonderful in getting this centre up and running so there is a lasting memorial to her life.”

There is also a short film featuring pupils from Braes High School in Polmont near Falkirk, performing a monologue based on the personal testimonies of two of the boarding school matron’s former pupils.

The scene includes a depiction of Ms Haining’s arrest when she told sobbing children “Don’t worry, I’ll be back by lunch” as she was led away.

Ms Haining was arrested in 1944, charged with working among Jews and taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp in Nazi-occupied Poland, where she died aged 47.

She was posthumously honoured by the UK government for “preserving life in the face of persecution” and is the only Scot to be officially recognised at Yad Vashem, the World ­Holocaust Remembrance Centre in Israel.

The new centre is being opened by Fiona Armstrong Lord-Lieutenant of Dumfries.

She said: “Here in Dumfriesshire, we are very proud to honour the memory of such a brave and selfless woman.

“This new heritage centre will help to keep Jane Haining’s memory alive and it is all tribute to those in Dunscore who have made it possible.”