Jane Haining: An inspiring tale of quiet heroism

“Jane Haining: An inspiring tale of quiet heroism” was part of the Caledonian Lecture series, dedicated to Scots who have lived and worked overseas, making a significant contribution to their country of adoption, while retaining their Scottish values of hard work and determination. Organised by St Columba’s Church, the Caledonian Club, the Embassy of Hungary and the Hungarian Cultural Centre London we were proud to present this year's Lecture honouring Jane Haining by Mary Miller, Author of "Jane Haining: A Life of Love and Courage". Haining’s life and work serves as an example for which Hungarians must be grateful and all Scots can be proud of, and serves as a timely and inspiring reminder about faith and courage in a time of fear and uncertainty.

Born into a religious family in the quiet countryside of Dunscore, Ms Haining became the Matron of the Church’s Mission School in Budapest in 1932. She nurtured and protected her students from the growing sinister Nazi influence and in return she was well loved and respected. When war was declared in 1939, she remained with her pupils in Budapest despite orders and entreaties from the Church of Scotland, saying: “If these children need me in the days of sunshine, how much more do they need me in the days of darkness.”

Ms Haining persisted in her determination to keep the girls safe but was eventually arrested by the Gestapo. From a jail in Budapest she was transferred to Auschwitz, where she became prisoner number 79467 and died most likely on 17 July 1944. She was 47 years old. Her last message to friends was a postcard asking for food. She ended her letter with the words:

“There is not much to report here on the way to heaven.”