“There is not much to report here on the way to heaven.”
The story of Jane Haining is the story of a Scottish woman who was deeply committed to her faith and who sacrificed her life for her ideals. It was her calling that took her away from her native Scotland, first to Budapest, and finally to Auschwitz, where she perished.
Born in 1897, on a farm near Dunscore, Dumfriesshire, in Scotland, Jane Haining was appointed matron of the Girls’ Home of the Scottish Mission in Budapest, Hungary, in 1932. Haining liked Hungary and Budapest and soon became fluent in the language. She dedicated the remaining 12 years of her life to caring and teaching predominantly Jewish girls in the school next to the Girls’ Home. Responsible for 400 children from six to 16, she was loved and respected by the students as well as her colleagues who regarded her as the best matron they had ever known. By 1940, faced with the worsening situation in Europe, the Scottish missionaries were ordered to return home. Haining refused to leave, believing that her children needed her more than ever. In March 1944, Germany occupied Hungary and soon began to deport the Jews from the Hungarian provinces. Haining was not deterred and stood by her students with great bravery, exposing herself to danger. On April 25, 1944, two Gestapo men appeared at the Mission, searched her office and gave her 15 minutes to get her things ready. She was taken first to Foutca prison, for questioning. Eight charges were laid against her, including working among Jews, visiting British prisoners of war and listening to the BBC. Haining was deported to Auschwitz where she became prisoner number 79467 and was forced into hard labor. Her last message to friends was a postcard asking for food. She ended her letter with the words: “There is not much to report here on the way to heaven.”
Haining succumbed to starvation and the terrible conditions in the camp and died, probably on July 17, 1944. She was 47 years old.
On January 27, 1997, Yad Vashem recognized Jane Haining as Righteous Among the Nations.