Jane Haining: Scotland’s Schindler
I recently came across an interesting article, found here, which highlights the fascinating story of Jane Haining, a Christian missionary from south Scotland, whose Last Will and Testament was recently unearthed in church archives in Scotland.
Despite requests to return home to native Scotland, Haining remained in Budapest during the height of World War II where she worked as a matron at a church-run school that provided safety to orphaned Jewish schoolchildren. She refused to leave Budapest stating that “if these children needed me in days of sunshine, how much more do they need me in these days of darkness?”
As Hungary’s Nationalist government acceded to the anti-Semitic laws imposed by Hitler’s regime, Haining was arrested by the Gestapo on suspicion of “espionage on behalf of England” and working among Jews.
Haining was eventually sent to Auschwitz where she died of “cachexia following intestinal catarrh”.
As a result of the care Haining provided to her students and the safety she provided, Haining is often referred to as Scotland’s Schindler.
Found within a box in the attic of the Church of Scotland World Mission Council’s archives in Edinburgh, Haining’s handwritten Last Will was dated July 1942 and read on its face that it should only be opened upon her death. The Last Will bequeaths, amongst other things, her typewriter, fur coat and watches.
Although the Last Will itself is nothing unusual, there is much excitement surrounding its discovery as historians suggest that it gives a sense that Haining was fully aware of the risks she was taking to protect the Jewish schoolchildren.