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Scots missionary honoured at Holocaust memorial centre

Jane Haining was working as a teacher in Hungary when she was arrested by the Nazis.

Jane Haining: Her heroism is the focus of an exhibition in Budapest.
Jane Haining: Her heroism is the focus of an exhibition in Budapest. Church of Scotland

A Scottish woman who died in Auschwitz is to be honoured 73 years after her death.

Jane Haining, who was brought up in Dunscore near Dumfries, became a missionary in Budapest, Hungary in 1932.

Ms Haining was teaching when the Second World War broke out.

All Scottish missionaries were advised to return home when the war began to spread across Europe.

Ms Haining declined, writing to her minister: "If these children need me in days of sunshine, how much more do they need me in days of darkness?"

She was arrested and eventually taken to the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp in Nazi-occupied Poland in 1944 and was killed at the age of 47.

For her heroism, Ms Haining will be the focus of a new exhibition in the Holocaust Memorial Centre in Budapest.

A spokesman for the centre, Zoltan Toth-Heinmann, said Ms Haining gave up her life to protect Jewish schoolgirls during the Second World War and was a "unique and important" figure.

He said: "Jane Haining's story is an important part of the Holocaust history in Budapest and sometimes, for the general public, it might be neglected.

"She was unique because all the other players - rescuers, victims and perpetrators - were local people.

"She was the only one who had the chance to choose if she would stay there and risk her life to save children or just leave and return to Scotland."

Exhibition: Dr Gábor Maklári and Zoltan Toth-Heinmann.
Exhibition: Dr Gábor Maklári and Zoltan Toth-Heinmann. Church of Scotland

Mr Toth-Heinmann said the exhibition will help ensure her memory is kept alive and "illustrate her heroism to visitors".

He added: "The primary objective will be the education of young people so they can learn that sometimes it is important to make a sacrifice.

"We have various items relating to her life - artefacts, photographs and documents - which will, along with testimonies from some of her former pupils, bring her story closer to visitors."

A small exhibition about Ms Haining is on display in St Columba's Church of Scotland in Budapest and in the school next door where she used to work.

Rev Ian Alexander, secretary of the Church of Scotland World Mission Council, said: "Ms Haining's story is heartbreaking but also truly inspirational."

A heritage centre, which will in part tell the story of Ms Haining, is being created inside Dunscore Parish Church, which has a memorial cairn to Ms Haining nearby.

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