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This page: updated 21st February 2022

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Jane Haining
Dumfries and Galloway

Jane Haining and Dumfries & Galloway

Jane Haining was a local hero of a different kind. Dunscore-born she became a missionary to the Jewish mission in Hungary and died for her beliefs in the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz.

Jane Haining Jane was educated at Dumfries Academy where she became Dux of the Modern School during the First World War, the year after the actor John Laurie had come runner-up.

Jane worked for ten years in a threadmaker's in Paisley, but at a meeting in Glasgow about the Jewish Mission she turned to a friend and said, prophetically: 'I have found my life-work.' After a crash course in Hungarian, she took charge of the Girls' Home of the mission in Budapest. The Nazis jackbooted their way into Hungary during the last March of her life, and she wept as she had to sew Stars of David on the youngsters. Gestapo men raided the place. Jane had ignored the warnings of the Church of Scotland to come home to safety, and she was thrown in jail. She refused to reject her children, and it cost her her life.

According to Elizabeth Walker in her husband's book, Legacy of Scots, Jane Haining was the only Scot to be slain in the Nazi concentration camps, and was probably gassed along with a batch of Hungarian women on 16 August 1944. However, her death certificate reads: `Miss Haining, who was arrested on account of justified suspicion of espionage against Germany, died in hospital, July 17, of cachexia brought on by intestinal catarrh.'

Two days before her (official) death, Jane had written obsessively to a friend Margit about apples, fresh fruit and bread: she was obviously starving. You can read between the censored lines. She wrote pathetically: `Even here on the road to Heaven there is a mountain range to climb.'

Now her supporters in Scotland are remembering her words as they try to have her honoured for eternity in the Avenue of Righteous Gentiles in Jerusalem. For her name to be admitted, much first-hand information is needed - an almost impossible task.

The most moving tribute to the Dumfriesshire martyr was written by one of her former wards: `I still feel the tears in my eyes and hear in my ears the siren of the Gestapo motor car. I see the smile on her face while she bade me farewell. I never saw Miss Haining again, and when I went to the Scottish Mission to ask the minister about her, I was told she had died. I did not want to believe it, nor to understand, but a long time later I realised that she had died for me, and for others. The body of Miss Haining is dead, but she is not alone, because her smile, voice and face are still in my heart.'

Among the memorials to Jane Haining are two stained glass windows in Queen's Park church, Glasgow, where she worshipped, and a plaque in the little Kirk of Dunscore, which stands on the site of the one, where Robert Burns prayed most Sundays during his stay at Ellisland.

Extract taken from Discovering Dumfriesshire by Andy Murray, published by John Donald Publishers Ltd, 1989

+ Will Conbhail writes in July 2005:

Jane Haining was not the only Scots born person to die in a Nazi concentration camp.

  • Jean Fletcher born Dundee 12/12/1892 died in Auschwitz 1942.
  • Martha Hildesheim born Glasgow 1872 died in Theriesenstadt Jan. 10, 1943.
  • Herman Eskovitz born Glasgow 1927 died in Auschwitz.
  • Deborah Pollock born Glasgow 1892 died in Auschwitz 1942.
  • Bernard Pasha born Edinburgh 1907 died in Auschwitz 1942.
  • Paula Herzfeld born Glasgow 1900 died in Theriesenstadt.
  • Bessie Davis or Beugelmans born Edinburgh 1896 died Auschwitz 1942.
  • Her husband Boris Beugelmans born Edinburgh 1896 died Auschwitz 1942.
  • Jacques Blokjesman was born in Paisley in 1921 died in Belsen Bergen 1944.