Demand grows for a statue to honour Scots Christian martyr Jane Haining

Falkirk man Iain Lindsay OBE spent a year planning the 2019 commemoration in Budapest of Scots missionary Jane Haining - and it was an event to remember.

Sunday, 2nd February 2020, 3:25 pm
Updated Sunday, 2nd February 2020, 3:35 pm
Christian martyr Jane Haining, who gave her life for the girls in her care.

Mr Lindsay, as Britain’s ambassador to Hungary, had the proud but also heartbreaking task of leading a Holocaust memorial march through Budapest in memory of Jane, who was the “face” of the major annual event.

Now there’s growing political support for a statue to honour her memory in her native Scotland.

During the Second World War Jane, from the Borders, repeatedly refused to quit her post at the Church of Scotland mission in the Hungarian capital where many of the girls in her care, including orphans, were Jewish.

In 1944 Jane, who had been covertly working to find jobs in neutral countries where Jews could find refuge, was betrayed to the Gestapo and despatched to Auschwitz, the notorious Nazi death camp in Poland, where she perished.

Speaking during a Holocaust Memorial Day debate at the Scottish Parliament, South of Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine paid tribute to the “remarkable woman who stood up for others and paid the ultimate price”.

“Jane is honoured in Israel as Righteous among the Nations and has a memorial in Dunscore Church, in her home village,” she added.

“I agree that the time has come for us to pay her a lot more attention in Scotland.

“The time has come for some sort of national memorial.”

Kirsteen Oswald, MP for East Renfrewshire, said: “Jane Haining was the best of us - selfless and dedicated”.

Former MP for Moray, Angus Robertson, said: “Scottish heroine and Holocaust victim, Jane Haining, is commemorated as a Righteous amongst the Nations at Yad Vashem.

“It is high time there was a statue of her in Scotland.”

South of Scotland MSP Paul Wheelhouse, a Scottish Government minister, said: “If there was ever a time we needed to remember people like Jane, it is now.”

In addition to a memorial cairn in Dunscore and an exhibition in the local church, Miss Haining, who has a street named after her in Budapest, is immortalised in stained glass windows at Queen’s Park Govanhill Parish Church in Glasgow, where she attended before moving to Hungary, and on a plaque on a cairn on Carlton Hill in Edinburgh.

However it is felt that an additional and more conspicuous memorial is needed to give her life story the public prominence it deserves.

Green MSP Ross Greer said: “As Jane Haining’s story has gradually been uncovered in recent years, I have been pleased to see momentum growing behind proposals for a statue or other fitting memorial to her.

“It is our responsibility never to forget, and to never stop telling those stories.”

Iain Lindsay joined Scottish Secretary Alister Jack and Lord Provost of Glasgow Philip Braat at the opening of a recent special exhibition about Jane along with representatives from the Kirk and Jewish community.

Rev Ian Alexander, interim head of the Faith Impact Forum of the Church of Scotland, said: “We have worked hard to share the story of Jane Haining with as many people as possible since we found her handwritten will in an archive in 2016.

“We are pleased that there is growing recognition that she is a unique figure in Scottish history whose story of bravery, selflessness, compassion and faith inspires us all.”