Holocaust heroine's Scots relatives gather to view will

Missionary Jane Haining's last wishes were recently uncovered by the Church of Scotland.

Jane Haining: Protected Jewish schoolgirls during the Holocaust.
Jane Haining: Protected Jewish schoolgirls during the Holocaust.

Relatives of a Scottish woman who protected Jewish schoolgirls during the Holocaust have attended a special reunion to view her will.

Church of Scotland missionary Jane Haining died in the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland in 1944.

Her handwritten will was recently discovered in a church archive alongside photographs, a ring and other letters, giving a fresh insight into her life.

The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Right Rev Dr Richard Barr, hosted a gathering at which 14 relatives - some of whom had never met each other - were brought together.

For Joyce Greenlees, it was the first time she had met the children and grandchildren of Ms Haining's late half-sister Agnes O'Brien.

Mrs Greenlees, whose grandfather Harold Haining was Ms Haining's cousin, only learned she had family links in Northern Ireland, Belgium and England after reading about the discovery of the will.

The 59-year-old, a retired primary school teacher from Cumbernauld, North Lanarkshire, said: "I am so proud and pleased to meet members of a family I did not realise existed.

"Jane Haining was a very brave lady who was totally selfless and I think it is very important that everyone knows her story because we can learn lessons from the fact she deeply cared about all people, regardless of religious belief."

Caitriona Topping, 24, whose grandmother was Ms O'Brien, said she felt her connection with Ms Haining had been deepened after holding her will.

http://stv.tv/news/features/1366906-last-will-and-testament-of-scots-holocaust-victim-uncovered/ | default

Ms Haining was the matron at the Scottish Mission school in Budapest from 1932-44.

An avid radio listener, Ms Haining was aware of the growing threat the Nazis posed to the Hungarian Jews in the 1940s but was determined to ensure the school was a place where all children would feel safe and protected.

She was repeatedly ordered by church officials to return to Scotland but refused, writing: "If these children need me in days of sunshine, how much more do they need me in days of darkness?"

Ms Haining was arrested by two Gestapo officers in Budapest and charged with working among Jews, listening to news broadcasts and sending parcels to British prisoners of war.

She is the only Scot to be officially honoured at the Yad Vashem memorial in Israel for giving her life to help protect Jews during the Holocaust.

Dr Barr said: "Jane's story is one of the most remarkable stories of courage and loyalty.

"There was something quite special about seeing her family holding the various photographs and letters and to feel their immense sense of pride in what Jane did and in the ways in which her life and death have now been recognised."

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