A teacher at a school for Jewish girls in Budapest run by the Church of Scotland, Jane Haining refused orders from her superiors to leave Hungary when World War II began. Eventually she was sent to Auschwitz, where she died. Some of her last correspondence was recently discovered in church archives, shedding new light on the details of her story:
Despite being under surveillance, [Haining] managed to keep the children safe for four years until she was betrayed by the cook’s son-in-law, whom she caught eating scarce food intended for the girls. She was arrested by two Gestapo officers—they gave her fifteen minutes to gather her belongings—and charged with eight offenses. She was accused of working among the Jews; weeping when seeing the girls attend class wearing the yellow stars; dismissing her housekeeper; listening to news broadcasts on the BBC; having many British visitors; being active in politics; visiting British prisoners of war; and sending British prisoners of war parcels.
The church has a translation of the last letter Miss Haining wrote—a missive written in German and in pencil to Margit Prem, the Hungarian head teacher who ran the Scottish Mission in Budapest, on a letter-form headed “Konzenstrationslager Auschwitz.” It is dated July15, 1944—two days before she died—and is mainly concerned with the welfare of others, food, and the practical details of the school.