South Scotland

Auschwitz victim Jane Haining's relatives attend reunion

Relatives Image copyright Andrew O'Brien
Image caption Relatives of Ms Haining met at the reunion to view the recently discovered documents

Relatives of a Scots missionary who died in the Auschwitz concentration camp have attended a special reunion to view her handwritten will.

The recently discovered document offers fresh insight into the life of Jane Haining from Dunscore.

In total some 14 of her relatives attended the event in Edinburgh.

One of them, Catriona Topping, said she felt that her connection with Ms Haining had "deepened" by holding the will in her hand.

Ms Haining died in Auschwitz in 1944 at the age of 47.

She is the only Scot to be officially honoured at the Yad Vashem memorial in Israel for giving her life to help protect Jews during the Holocaust.

Joyce Greenlees, 59, of Cumbernauld - whose grandfather was Ms Haining's cousin - only learned about family links to Northern Ireland, Belgium and England after reading about the discovery of the will.

Image copyright Church of Scotland
Image caption The will was one of a number of documents discovered

It was among a number of documents found in attic space at the Church of Scotland's headquarters in Edinburgh.

"I am so proud and pleased to meet members of a family I did not realise existed," said Ms Greenlees.

"Jane Haining was a very brave lady who was totally selfless and I think it is very important that everyone knows her story because we can learn lessons from the fact she deeply cared about all people, regardless of religious belief."

Ms Topping, whose late grandmother was Ms Haining's half-sister, said she that the will had helped to transform a "mystical figure" from her childhood into a real person.

'Respected everybody'

The Bristol University biochemistry PhD student added: "The lesson we should take from Jane Haining is to be humble and not consider ourselves to be superior to others.

"She did not see herself to be a hero, she was just doing what she thought to be right and respected everybody."

The reception in Edinburgh was hosted by the Moderator of the General Assembly Right Rev Dr Russell Barr who said it was a "privilege" to welcome the family of a remarkable woman for afternoon tea.

"Jane's story is one of the most remarkable stories of courage and loyalty," he said.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Jane Haining died at Auschwitz aged 47

"There was something quite special about seeing her family holding the various photographs and letters and to feel their immense sense of pride in what Jane did and in the ways in which her life and death have now been recognised."

Rob O'Brien, from Ballygally, County Antrim, said he was very proud of his aunt, Ms Haining, and described the reunion as very moving.

"Jane was a person of very deep religious faith and a woman of great resolve and determination," he said.

"She had no desire to be a heroine, all she wanted to do was live out her faith and care for children.

"She had love for everybody and I think that is a great example to us all."

The reunion event was held on Armistice Day.

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