Angel of Auschwitz; Matron Who Died in a Nazi Death Camp Is Hailed by the Prime Minister

Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland), March 10, 2010 | Go to article overview

Angel of Auschwitz; Matron Who Died in a Nazi Death Camp Is Hailed by the Prime Minister


Byline: Donna Watson

WHEN the Nazis came, Scots missionary Jane Haining refused to abandon the 400 Jewish orphans in her care.

Ordered to flee Hungary by her Church Of Scotland bosses, she told them: "If these children need me in the days of sunshine, how much more do they need me in the days of darkness?"

And she shared the fate of the young girls she was determined to protect. Arrested by the Gestapo, she was sent to the death camp Auschwitz.

Tattooed with the number 79467, Jane died in a gas chamber aged 47.

Yesterday, the girls' home matron was hailed a heroine by Prime Minister Gordon Brown. She was one of 28 people honoured with the new British Heroes of the Holocaust award.

And Brown said they were "true British AndBrownsaidtheywere "trueBritish heroes and a source of national pride for all of us".

Jane was born at Lochenhead Farm, in Dunscore, Dumfriesshire.

Volunteered

She grew up as a member of the evangelical Craig Church in Dunscore then worked as a secretary at a threadmaker's in Paisley, living in the Pollokshields area of Glasgow and attending Queen's Park West United Free Church.

At a meeting in Glasgow about the Jewish Mission, she turned to a friend and said: "I have found my life-work."

Jane volunteered as a missionary in 932, becoming matron of the girls' home at the Scottish Mission School in Budapest, Hungary.

She looked after some of the school's 400 pupils, and became fluent in Hungarian. Most of the pupils were Jewish.

Famous for her broad Scots accent, she was popular with the children, many of whom were orphans from broken or poverty-stricken homes.

Inoneletter,shewrote:"Wehave one nice little mite who is an orphan and is coming to school for the first time. She seems to be a lonely wee soul and needs lots of love. We shall see what we can do to make life a little happier for her."

Jane was holidaying in Cornwall in 1939 when World War II broke out and she immediately returned to Budapest.

The following year she was contacted by church bosses, who ordered her home for her own safety.

But Jane refused, determined to remain with her girls.

After the Nazi invasion of Hungary in March 1944, she again decided to stay.

Jane'ssisterNanO'Brienlaterrecalled: "It was no surprise that she refused to come back. She would never have had a moment's happiness if she had come home and left the children."

Jane wept as she was ordered to sew yellow Stars of David on the clothes of the orphan girls

A month later, she was arrested for "offences" that included spying, working with Jews and listening to the BBC.

She admitted all the charges, except those of political activity. She was detained at Futca prison in Buda and then moved to a holding camp in Kistarcsa.

Jane was sent to Auschwitz in May 1944. She sent a last postcard on 15 July 1944 and died on 17 July 1944, gassed with a group of Hungarian women.

She is one of a total of 10 Scots thought to have died in the Nazi death camps. …

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