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Jane project aims to bring people together

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By Fiona Reid
Nostalgia
Jane project aims to bring people together

A NEW group has been established to promote the “living legacy” of a woman from Dumfriesshire who gave her life to protect Jewish school girls during the Holocaust.

The Jane Haining Project was formed by a cohort of Christian and Jewish people who believe her story is relevant today in light of growing levels of antisemitism, racism, and intolerance.

It plans to launch a national essay writing competition in Scottish secondary schools and a digital heritage trail app of places connected to the Church of Scotland missionary, who came from Dunscore and who died in Auschwitz.

Committee member Rev Ian Alexander said: “Jane Haining showed tremendous courage in the face of intolerable evil and her heartbreaking and inspirational story is as important today as ever.

“We hope that the exciting two core activities that are currently being developed will help keep her memory alive for generations to come.”

Farmer’s daughter Miss Haining was matron at the Scottish Mission School in Budapest and refused to abandon “her girls” after World War II broke out in 1939, even though she knew her life was in danger.

She famously said: “If these children need me in days of sunshine, how much more do they need me in days of darkness?”

She was eventually arrested in 1944 and taken to Auschwitz where she died aged 47.

The Jane Haining project emerged from the West of Scotland branch of the Council of Christians and Jews (CCJ).

James Roberts, from CCJ, said: “Jane Haining’s story is one that young people can identify with and it evokes a strong emotional response.

“By refusing to be a bystander, she demonstrated her loving kindness, her sense of fairness, justice and solidarity and her contempt of discrimination in her refusal to treat her Jewish pupils as ‘the other’.

“In this light, the project aims to increase understanding, acceptance and kindness between individuals from different cultures and religious backgrounds and equip people to speak out against prejudice and take action to challenge antisemitism and discrimination.”

He explained they are in the early stages of development and hope to work with teachers in pilot schools to create the material.

In addition to Dunscore, Jane had links to Dumfries, Glasgow and Paisley and Mr Roberts said a heritage trail would allow people to connect with her story in a meaningful way in addition to learning about Scotland’s Jewish heritage.

Her selfless bravery led to her being posthumously awarded a Heroine of the Holocaust medal by the UK Government.

She is the only Scot to be named Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, Israel’s memorial to victims of the Holocaust.

Her life is celebrated at Dunscore Church and Queen’s Park Govanhill Church in Glasgow – and last year, a new residential street in Loanhead was named “Haining Park” in her memory.

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