Jane Haining

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Jane Haining
Jane Haining Portrait.jpg
Born (1897-06-06)6 June 1897
Dunscore, Scotland, United Kingdom
Died 16 August 1944(1944-08-16) (aged 47)
Auschwitz, German-annexed part of Poland
Occupation Missionary

Jane Haining (6 June 1897 – 16 August 1944) was a Church of Scotland missionary. She worked in Budapest, where she was arrested by the Nazis in 1944. She died in the concentration camp at Auschwitz later that year. Haining is the only Scot to be officially honoured for giving her life to help Jews in the Holocaust.

Early life[edit]

Haining was born at Lochenhead Farm in Dunscore, Dumfriesshire, Scotland. She was the fifth child of Thomas Haining, a farmer, and his first wife, Jane Mathison, a farmer's daughter. She grew up as a member of the evangelical Craig church in Dunscore (Reformed Presbyterian until 1876, then Free Church of Scotland until 1900, and then United Free Church). She was educated at the village school, and won a scholarship to Dumfries Academy in 1909. She trained at the commercial college of the Glasgow Athenaeum, and worked for ten years as a secretary at a thread-maker's, J and P Coats Ltd[1] in Paisley. She lived in Pollokshields in Glasgow and attended Queen's Park West United Free Church.

She volunteered for service as a missionary in 1932, becoming matron of the girls' home at the Scottish Mission School in Budapest, Hungary. The Scottish Mission in Budapest had been set up in 1841 with a main focus on evangelizing to Hungarian Jews.[2] The mission had established a school in 1846, with funds provided by Christian Jews.[3] Haining looked after 50 of the school's 400 pupils (most of whom were Jewish), and quickly became fluent in Hungarian.

Second World War[edit]

She was holidaying in Cornwall in 1939 when the Second World War broke out and she immediately returned to Budapest. She was ordered to return to Scotland in 1940 but refused, determined to remain with her girls. After the German occupation of Hungary, its former allies in March 1944, she again refused to leave.

She was arrested in April 1944 and detained by the Gestapo, accused, amongst other things, of working among Jews and listening to the BBC. She admitted all the charges, except those of political activity. She was detained at Fő utca prison in Buda, and then moved to a holding camp in Kistarcsa. She was sent to Auschwitz in May 1944, where she was tattooed as prisoner 79467. She sent a last postcard on 15 July 1944, and died "in hospital" at Auschwitz on 17 July 1944, of "cachexia following intestinal catarrh", strangely her name is not recorded in the Auschwitz Death Books published by the Auschwitz Memorial and Museum. She is one of a total of ten Scots – including two or three women – thought to have died in the Nazi extermination camps.

Personal items recovered[edit]

One of the discovered photos showing Haining with her students

In 2016, personal effects belonging to Haining were discovered in the attic space of the Church of Scotland's head office in George Street in Edinburgh.[4] These include a will, handwritten by Haining and dating from 1942, more than seventy photographs of the Jewish girls she had risked her life trying to save,[4] and several documents outlining efforts to try to secure her release; one of which was a typed report from 1945 that Bishop László Ravasz of the Reformed Church in Hungary wrote to the Synod in Hungary about how he unsuccessfully tried to intervene with Hungarian authorities to procure Haining's release from prison, before she was sent to Auschwitz. The items were placed in the National Library of Scotland.[5]


Dumfries Academy plaque of notable pupils
The memorial in her home village

Among the memorials to Jane Haining are two stained glass windows in Queen's Park Govanhill Parish Church of Scotland in Glasgow, where she worshipped; a plaque in the little Kirk of Dunscore; two plaques in the Scottish mission in Budapest; and enrollment as a non-Jewish individual who is acknowledged as Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. A memorial cairn to Haining now stands between Dunscore Kirk and the village graveyard, made possible by public donation.

However, the major remembrance for her must be the naming after her of the main riverside road on the Pest side between the Chain and Elizabeth bridges. (In 2010, Municipality of Budapest renamed a section of 'Pesti alsó rakpart' (Pest side lower embankment) to 'Jane Haining rakpart'.)

Pelicula Films are to produce a film about Haining titled There Are Mountains On The Road to Heaven. The film, a Hungarian co-production, will be backed by Scottish TV, Screen Screen and the European Commission. The director of the film will be Mark Littlewood and it will feature the talents of producer Ian Smith and screen writer Chris Dolan. The film will be based on interviews with four pupils who survived, Dr. Zsuzanna Pajs, Dr. Maria Kremer, Ibolya Suranyi (Budapest), and Annette Lantos (Washington).[6][7]

Karine Polwart, Scottish singer/songwriter, included a song about Haining entitled 'Baleerie Baloo' in her 2006 album, Scribbled in Chalk.

Haining is also included in 'A Promised Land', a play by Raymond Ross.

Haining is name checked in Scottish Women's Power Anthem 'Girl (Daughter of Scotland)' by Sharon Martin.

In 2010, Haining was posthumously named a British Hero of the Holocaust by the British Government.[8]

Lynley Smith wrote a fictionalised diary based on Haining's story.[9]

In 2017, Haining was officially honoured by the city of Budapest, 73 years after her death; being the focus of a new exhibition in the Holocaust Memorial Centre. Zoltan Toth-Heinmann, the centre spokesman stated that he was determined to ensure that as many people as possible learn about Haining, who was posthumously honoured by the British Government for "preserving life in the face of persecution".[10]


  1. ^ Walker, Charles (1988). A legacy of Scots. Edinburgh: Mainstream. p. 243. ISBN 1851581510. 
  2. ^ Evolution of the Scottish Mission in Budapest, Reformed Church in Hungary
  3. ^ A short history of the Budapest Scottish Church
  4. ^ a b correspondent, Harriet Sherwood Religion (13 September 2016). "Will belonging to Scot who died in Auschwitz found in church archives". Retrieved 12 December 2017 – via www.theguardian.com. 
  5. ^ bbcnews.com Documents 'shed light' on Scotswoman killed at Auschwitz. 14 September 2016. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
  6. ^ The Sunday Herald - Scotland's award-winning independent newspaper Archived 2005-02-06 at the Wayback Machine. at www.sundayherald.com
  7. ^ Variety.com Special Report: MIP TV - Listings 2005 Archived 2006-01-11 at the Wayback Machine. at www2.variety.com
  8. ^ "Britons honoured for holocaust heroism". The Telegraph. 9 March 2010. Archived from the original on 9 March 2010. Retrieved 9 March 2010. 
  9. ^ "Wartime Heroine Revealed". Scoop. 21 November 2013. Retrieved 27 November 2013. 
  10. ^ Brian Donelly. The Herald Scot who died in Auschwitz honoured 73 years after her death 11 August 2017. Retrieved 11 August 2017.

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