Cumbernauld woman’s link to legacy of heroism

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A Cumbernauld woman has discovered she is related to a heroic Scottish missonary worker who gave her life in Auschwitz to protect Jewish schoolgirls.

Jane Haining, who perished at the hands of the Nazis, is the only Scot to be officially honoured by the State of Israel for her heroism.

And Westerwood resident Joyce Greenlees (59) has found out that her grandfather was Jane’s cousin – and has since met up with other members of a family that she never knew existed.

They were memorably re-united at a special ceremony in Edinburgh with the Moderator of the General Assembly, Right Reverend Russell Barr- where they were given the chance to view Jane’s handwritten will.

Reading about the discovery of the will back in September led Joyce on a trail of discovery when it became clear that the family connection existed.

Since then, Joyce has become aware of family in Northern Ireland, Belgium and England who were also related to Jane.

A total of 14 family members gathered to view the document and enjoyed afternoon tea afterwards.

Joyce, who retired from teaching at Cumbernauld Primary three years ago, said: “I am so proud and pleased to meet members of a family I did not realise existed.

“Jane Haining was a very brave lady who was totally selfless.

“I think it is very important that everyone knows her story because we can learn lessons from the fact that she cared deeply about all people, regardless of religious belief.”

Jane was a matron at the Scottish Mission School in the Hungarian capital of Budapest which had some Jewish pupils.

She became aware of the anti-Semitism by listening to the BBC but refused church pleas to return to Scotland.

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

Jane Haining was arrested after being denounced by locals and died in the gas chambers on August 16 1944. She was 47.