Hungarian exhibition to focus on Scottish missionary who died in Auschwitz
Jane Haining became the first Scot acknowledged as Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem in 1997.
A Scottish missionary who died in Auschwitz will be the focus of a exhibition in Hungary.
Jane Haining, a former school teacher from Dumfriesshire, travelled to Budapest in 1932 and became the matron at the Scottish Mission School, where more than 400 girls of mostly Jewish background were studying.
After the German invasion in 1944, she was taken to Auschwitz where she died at the age of 47.
She later became first Scot acknowledged as Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem in 1997.
Now she is the focus of a new exhibition Common Fate (Sorsközösség) at the Holocaust Memorial Centre in Budapest which opens on Wednesday.
Scottish Secretary David Mundell said: “When we reflect on one of the darkest times in human history, it is the unimaginable courage of individuals like Jane Haining – a schoolteacher from Dunscore in Dumfriesshire – that provides us with hope and a belief in the compassion of others.
“Her dedication to her pupils was unwavering. After repeatedly refusing to leave Hungary, she wrote ‘if these children need me in days of sunshine, how much more do they need me in days of darkness?’
“In doing so, she gave her life to protect others from an evil that we can never allow to resurface.
Ms Haining belonged to the small group of Holocaust victims who were given the choice to leave, but instead decided to stay and risk her life to save children.
She returned from Britain to Hungary in 1939 and then in 1940 when the Scottish Church summoned its staff home.
After the German invasion there was no education activity in Hungarian school, but students in the Scottish Mission could still live in the girls’ home where they were more secure than with their families.
The missionary was arrested at the school and detained by the Gestapo. She was charged with working amongst Jews and taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp in Nazi-occupied Poland where she died.
At the exhibition opening, British Ambassador to Hungary Iain Lindsay spoke about her “remarkable and unique life” and said despite having the chance to leave, she was brave enough to stay and preserve others’ lives in the face of persecution.
The exhibition, which is open until March 2018, contains a large number of photographs, memoirs and some personal items, as well as a copy of her last letter from Auschwitz.
Mr Mundell added: “Her words and actions embody a selflessness and sacrifice that we should never forget.
“I am delighted that this new exhibition will not only remember her extraordinary bravery, but that her story can serve to educate and inspire others.”