Scottish woman’s mission to save Jews during Holocaust revealed

A Scottish woman saved many Jews from the Holocaust by helping them to emigrate to the UK, a new book has revealed.

Jane Haining assisted Hungarian women in securing jobs as domestic servants for five years before she was taken to Auschwitz, where she died in 1944.

She was arrested by the Gestapo on eight charges including working among Jews in her care at the Scottish Mission School in Budapest, Hungary.

A new book by Mary Miller reflects the “ordinary, yet extraordinary” life of the woman from Dunscore, Dumfries and Galloway, and casts fresh light on her work at the school from 1932 until her death.

Jane Haining and girls
Jane Haining insisted the Jewish and Christian girls in her care needed her in ‘days of darkness’ (Church of Scotland/PA)

In it, Miller writes: “Jewish refugees from countries swallowed up by the Nazis were pouring into Budapest, still believing the situation of Jews to be less life-threatening in Hungary than in the surrounding countries.

“They believed … the only way to save the Jews was through emigration, and by February 1939 the Mission was putting on courses in farming, cattle breeding and other subjects to help refugees to get jobs abroad.

“Jane Haining taught domestic management and gave lectures on social life in Britain.

“(Rev) George Knight commented that Jane Haining was an able teacher, many a housewife in Britain can testify who received into her home a refugee domestic servant from Hungary.”

She refused to come back home after war broke out 1939 and insisted the Jewish and Christian girls in her care needed her in the “days of darkness”.

After being arrested by “German officers” in April 1944, she never returned to the Scottish Mission and died at the camp – branded prisoner 79467 – aged 47.

She is officially recognised at Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Centre in Israel, and received a British Hero of Holocaust medal from the UK Government.

The book, Jane Haining – A Life of Love and Courage, also discusses the objective of the school, which had around 400 pupils, most of them Jews.

Miller writes the school aimed to “educate Jews and Christians together in order to fight the anti-Semitism that was endemic”.

She added: “(Jane) did not compromise and in our own difficult times there is a challenge there for all ordinary people tempted to look away from evil and find reasons to say ‘there is nothing we can do’.

“Jane Haining reminds us that there is always something we can do.”

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