Falkirk school’s film features in Holocaust memorial tribute to Scots heroine

Jane Haining.
Jane Haining.

A film by Braes High School pupils which honours a heroic Scots missionary murdered by the Nazis is being shown at a landmark event in Dumfries-shire today.

A dedicated room to the memory of Jane Haining, is being opened today, Holocaust Memorial Day, at Dunscore Parish Church in Dumfries-shire, where she was born.

During today’s ceremony a film made last year by Braes pupils will tell the story of how Jane, as matron of the Scottish Mission Girls School in Budapest, Hungary, sacrificed her life in her attempt to save Jewish girls boarded there.

Visitors will be able to visit a room featuring photographs, letters, documents and other personal belongings which help to tell her story.

A heritage centre has been created inside the church, and there is a memorial cairn nearby.

Miss Haining, who was 47, had refused to return home when the Nazis occupied Hungary, saying her pupils needed her during the “days of darkness”.

She was seized in 1944, accused of working among Jews, and later died in the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.

She is the only Scot to be officially recognised at Israel’s World Holocaust Remembrance Centre at Yad Vashem in Israel, and was honoured by the British government for “preserving life in the face of persecution”.

She is also remembered in a memorial in Budapest, where of all the people involved with the school she was the only one who could have chosen to return home.

Fiona Malcolm, head of social subjects at Braes High School,in Reddingmuirhead,last year attended a teacher training course at Yad Vashem organised by the Holocaust Educational trust.

She said Jane’s story is one of “courage and sacrifice”.

“It is important that young Scottish people learn about her story, which is one that I teach to third year pupils”, she said.

“It was a privilege to see Jane Haining’s name in the Garden of Remembrance”.

Of the Scottish site of the new heritage centre she said: “Dunscore is a beautiful, peaceful place and it breaks my heart that Jane ended her days in the hellhole that was Auschwitz.”

In the film to be shown there, Pupil Abbie Meldrum performed a monologue based on the personal testimonies of two women who were looked after by Jane.

The scene, with Jane depicted by Amy Coull, features her telling sobbing children “Don’t worry, I’ll be back by lunch”.

One of the organisers of the Braes High event, pupil Callum Docherty, said the Church of Scotland missionary had “restored his faith in humanity”.

Callum, with fellow pupil Jessica Reid, were Holocaust Education Trust ambassadors for the school.

Jess said: “When you have a link to something through your own country, it makes what happened all the more real because you realise it was people like you who were there and suffered.”

Ms Haining’s niece, Deirdre McDowell, will unveil a Historic Environment Scotland plaque today in memory of Ms Haining.

She said: “It is a fitting tribute to Jane’s memory that a heritage centre has been opened in the village where she was born”.