A school matron who gave her life to help protect Jewish pupils during the Holocaust must never be forgotten, the Princess Royal has said.
Jane Haining was matron of the Scottish Mission girls’ boarding school in Budapest, Hungary, from 1932-1944 and refused to abandon the Jewish girls in her care, many of whom were orphans.
She sheltered them for more than four years until she was arrested and eventually taken to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland, where she died at the age of 47 six months before it was liberated in 1945.
Miss Haining will be the subject of an online lecture hosted by St Columba’s Church in London on Wednesday evening, delivered by Mary Miller who has written a book about her.
Anne, patron of the Scots in London Association, said: “Jane Haining is an inspirational subject whose devotion to duty is a lesson to us all.
“Jane’s determination and resolution in looking after her young charges at the Scottish Mission School in Budapest, at the eventual cost of her own life, is an example of service over self that deserves to be told and remembered.
“The lecture by Mary Miller, who herself has looked after deprived children in Glasgow, will be poignant but we can take heart from the knowledge that Jane’s life will be honoured.”
The lecture, entitled “An Inspiring Tale of Quiet Heroism”, has been organised in partnership with the Scots in London Association and will feature music performed by violinists Adam Romer and Kirsty Lovie.
They are Hungarian and Scottish respectively and members of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.
Miss Haining, who grew up in Dunscore near Dumfries, was posthumously awarded a Heroine of the Holocaust medal and named Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.
She is the first solo woman to be the subject of the Caledonian Lecture.
Reverend Angus MacLeod, minister of St Columba’s Church, said: “The story of Jane Haining, an ordinary yet extraordinary Christian woman, is incredibly moving and inspiring.
“It was decided that it would be fitting that the Caledonian Lecture this year focused on her because 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
“I am very pleased that, despite the restrictions of the Covid-19 lockdown, we are able to host it at St Columba’s with Mary Miller speaking to us from her home in Scotland.
“The tunes that the Scottish and Hungarian musicians will perform are so poignant, vibrant and joyful, I think they are an appropriate expression of Jane’s story.”
Speaking after the launch of her book – Jane Haining: A Life Of Love And Courage – last year, Mrs Miller said: “She 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.”