Holocaust Memorial Day: Work underway to promote Scot Jane Haining who gave her life to protect Jewish school girls

A new group has been established to promote the "living legacy" of a Scot who gave her life to protect Jewish school girls during the Holocaust.

A new group has been established to promote the "living legacy" of a Scottish matron Jane Haining who gave her life to protect Jewish school girls during the Holocaust (Photo: Church of Scotland).

The Jane Haining Project – formed by a cohort of Christian and Jewish people – is developing plans to launch an essay writing competition in Scottish secondary schools connected to the Church of Scotland missionary who died in Auschwitz.

The group is also developing a digital heritage trail app of notable places connected to Ms Haining who gave her life to protect Jewish school girls.

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Miss Haining was the matron at the Scottish Mission School in Budapest, Hungary and refused to abandon “her girls” after the Second World War broke out in 1939 despite knowing she was risking her life. She was determined to continue doing her duty and famously said: “If these children need me in days of sunshine, how much more do they need me in days of darkness?”

Jane Haining who gave her life to protect Jewish school girls (Photo: Church of Scotland).

The farmer's daughter from the village of Dunscore in Dumfries and Galloway started working at the school in 1932 and was eventually arrested in 1944.

She was taken to Auschwitz in Nazi-occupied Poland where she died at the age of 47.

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Speaking ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day on Thursday, Rev Ian Alexander, a Kirk minister and member of the project committee said: "Jane Haining showed tremendous courage in the face of intolerable evil and her heart-breaking and inspirational story is as important today as ever.”

The Jane Haining project emerged from the West of Scotland branch of the Council of Christians and Jews (CCJ) after author Mary Miller gave a talk about her book, Jane Haining: A Life of Love and Courage.The committee is made up of 10 members including Mrs Miller and is chaired by Professor Anne Anderson, former vice-principal of the University of Glasgow.

Support the group, James Roberts, Christian programme manager with CCJ, said: "The Jane Haining Schools Competition will be centred around her inspirational life and accompanied by a suite of appropriate educational resources about the Holocaust and seeks to connect her story to contemporary issues.

"We are in the early stages of development and hope to work with a group of teachers in pilot schools to create the material which will also draw on expertise from Holocaust educators and people who know Miss Haining's story."

Mr Roberts said the Jane Haining Project would like to publish the winning essays, create online video blogs and encourage schools across Scotland to share them as well as discuss the missionary's story and legacy at assemblies.

In addition to Dunscore, Jane Haining has links to Dumfries, Glasgow and Paisley where she was a clerk at a cotton mill.

Miss Haining's selfless bravery led to her being posthumously awarded a Heroine of the Holocaust medal by the UK Government.

She is the only Scot to be named Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, Israel's memorial to victims of the Holocaust.

Her life is celebrated at Dunscore Church and Queen's Park Govanhill Church in Glasgow - the church she attended while living in the city prior to her move to Budapest.

Last year, a new residential street in Loanhead, Midlothian was named "Haining Park" in her memory.

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