Jan 2 2009 by Iain Pollock, Dumfries Standard Friday
THERE are many memorials dedicated to Dunscore missionary Jane Haining around the country, but campaigners are now fighting to have her recognised posthumously in an honours list.
Jane was arrested after refusing to leave the 400 young orphans in her care at a school in Budapest, Hungary, when German forces invaded in March 1944.
The only Kirk missionary to die in the Nazi gas chambers, she was deported to Auschwitz – where almost four million men, women and children were exterminated – with some of her wards and was gassed on August 16, 1944.
Now the Holocaust Educational Trust, a British charity that raises awareness of the Nazi regime’s atrocities, is campaigning for the Government to change the honours system to allow posthumous knighthoods and honours.
Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said: “Jane Haining was a remarkable woman who took a stand by refusing to leave the Jewish orphans in her care.
“She could have returned to Scotland, but she chose to be among those Jewish orphans at the risk of her own life and sadly at the sacrifice of her own life.”
Jane was born at Lochenhead farm, Dunscore on June 6, 1897. She lost her mother at the age of five and went on to become Dux of Dumfries Academy during the First World War.
She worked for 10 years in Paisley, but her life took a new direction when she attended a meeting in Glasgow about the Jewish Mission.
She got the call to work at a Church of Scotland mission to the Jews in Budapest in 1932 where she became famous for her broad Scots accent.
Jane’s Christian faith ruled her life and her courage and love of the pupils in her care meant that she refused to return home before the start of the Second World War.
A film of her life based on interviews with four of the 400 children she lost her life trying to protect, is currently in production.
Jane’s name is inscribed on the Holocaust memorial at Yad Vashem in Israel, and Prime Minister Gordon Brown has praised her courage in his book Wartime Courage: Stories of Extraordinary Courage by Ordinary Men and Women in World War Two.
A pair of stained glass windows at the Queen’s Park Church of Scotland in Glasgow where she worshipped, were also dedicated in her memory, as well as a stone in the ‘Vigil for the Scottish Parliament’ in Edinburgh and a memorial at Dunscore Kirk.
Jane visited Dunscore for the last time in 1939, but the community there still hold her dear in their hearts.