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Home  >  News  >  Rediscovered Documents Shed Fresh Light on Jane Haining

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Image: janehainingwillenvelope_cropped.jpg

Rediscovered Documents Shed Fresh Light on Jane Haining

Wednesday September 14

 

Fresh light has been cast on the story of Jane Haining, the Church of Scotland missionary who died in Auschwitz.

The handwritten will and previously unpublished photographs of Jane were rediscovered in the World Mission Council’s archive at the Church offices in Edinburgh.

Jane was the matron of the Girls’ Home in the Scottish Mission in Budapest, Hungary. She was ordered home several times but refused to leave the girls under her care, many of them Jewish, even when the Nazis occupied the country in March 1944. She was arrested on April 25 by the Gestapo and died that July, aged 47.

The archive also includes several documents outlining efforts to try and secure her release after her arrest.

The Rev Ian Alexander, Secretary of the World Mission Council, said: "The most poignant discovery is her last will and testament which says ‘to be opened in the event of my death’ and dated July, 1942.

“It states, in her own handwriting, ‘I, Jane Mathieson Haining being in my right mind, do hereby with my own hand give directions for the disposal of my possessions in the event of my death’.

“She lays out what her legacies are to be and who is to receive her wireless, typewriter, fur coat and watches.

“It is a wonderful document and tremendously exciting to have something that Jane Haining herself has written. It gives a sense she was fully aware of the risks she was taking.”

Many of the newly-discovered pictures – around 70 in total - were taken of the girls and Scottish Mission staff on the shore of Lake Balaton, where summer holidays were spent in a rented villa. In the above picture, Jane is standing second from the left.

One of the other documents dicsovered is an extract from a report delivered to the Reformed Church in Hungary’s Synod in 1945 – around 12 months after Miss Haining’s death.

Mr Alexander said: “It reveals that Bishop Laszlo Ravasz approached the Prime Minister’s office to try to have Jane freed, but it seems either he was not listened to or that the Nazis had already had her moved out of the local prison so as to prevent any local attempts to free her.

“In his address to the Synod he said ‘her superiors three times ordered her home, but she always replied that the Hungarian people were so true-hearted, honourable, and chivalrous that among them not a hair on her head would be touched.

“’I shall continue to do my duty,' she declared, 'and stick to my post'.”

The Rev Susan Brown, minister at Dornoch Cathedral in the Highlands and convener of the Europe Committee of the World Mission Council, added: “The previously unseen documents and photographs have, for me, evoked fresh feelings of awe about this already tremendously moving, inspiring and important story.

“To hear of Jane’s determination to continue to care for ‘her’ girls, even when she knew it put her own life at risk, is truly humbling.

“In Budapest, I’ve come across the street named after her on the Pest side of the river Danube and then seen her name engraved on a memorial beside the tree of remembrance in the Synagogue. You realise the impact this ordinary but courageous young woman has made on the city.”

This weekend marks the 175th anniversary of the Church of Scotland Mission in Budapest.

The new material will be handed over to the National Library of Scotland.

Looking Back: News of Jane Haining


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