A FORMER Renfrewshire worker encouraged Christian children to sew yellow stars onto their uniforms and walked hand in hand with their Jewish schoolmates through the streets in an act of defiance against the Nazis. 

Ninon Leader, a former pupil at the Scottish Mission School in Budapest, Hungary, has revealed the girls were encouraged to see themselves as equals by their “inspirational” matron, Jane Haining.

Ms Haining, a Church of Scotland missionary from Dunscore near Dumfries, refused to abandon the Jewish girls in her care – many of them orphans – at the boarding school when the war broke out in 1939.

The former J&P Coats worker, in Paisley, sheltered the girls for more than four years until she was arrested and eventually taken to Auschwitz Birkenau extermination camp in Nazi-occupied Poland, where she died six months before it was liberated. 

To mark Holocaust Memorial Day, an exhibition in honour of Ms Haining, opened in the foyer of Glasgow City Chambers and will run until Friday. 

It features photographs, documents, letters and other artefacts relating to prisoner 79467 – Miss Haining – who was 47 when she died in July 1944.

Rev Ian Alexander, interim head of the Faith Impact Forum of the Church of Scotland, said it was fitting to remember Miss Haining, who was arrested by the Gestapo on eight charges, including working among Jews in her care, on Holocaust Memorial Day.

He said: “She stood by the girls in her care in good times and bad.

The Gazette: Jane Haining sheltered Jewish children for more than four years before she died at Auschwitz in 1944 (The Church of Scotland)Jane Haining sheltered Jewish children for more than four years before she died at Auschwitz in 1944 (The Church of Scotland)

“She had felt called to Budapest to look after them to the best of her considerable ability and she was deeply committed to the girls in her care.

“Remembering her on this 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz is to keep in our hearts the spirit of God’s love, and justice, and compassion that guided her in everything she did, that we might be also guided in our lives today.”

Meanwhile, East Renfrewshire's MP is among those to join calls for Ms Haining to have a statue built in her honour. 

The Gazette: East Renfrewshire MP Kirsten Oswald East Renfrewshire MP Kirsten Oswald

On Twitter, in response to an article in our sister title The Herald calling for a statue for Ms Haining, Kirsten Oswald wrote: "Neil Mackay (the author) is right. Jane Haining was the best of us. Selfless and dedicated. On Holocaust Memorial Day, her spirit is one we should all reflect on."