Relatives of a Scot honoured for giving her life to help protect Jewish schoolgirls during the Holocaust have attended a special reunion to view her handwritten will.
Jane Haining’s last will and testament was found as part of a “priceless” church archive in Edinburgh earlier this year.
The Church of Scotland said the document – along with recently-discovered photographs, a ring and other letters – provides insight into the life of the Christian.
Miss Haining, of Dunscore in Dumfriesshire, died at Auschwitz Birkenau, the notorious former Nazi concentration and extermination camp, in 1944 at the age of 47 after refusing to leave the Jewish girls she was protecting at a church-run school in Budapest, Hungary.
Miss Haining’s will was found in a box at the Church of Scotland World Mission Council’s archive and news of its discovery emerged in September.
The Moderator of the General Assembly, Right Rev Dr Russell Barr, hosted a reception in the Scottish capital at which 14 relatives of the remarkable woman – some of whom had never met each other – were brought together.
For one woman, Joyce Greenlees, it was the first time she had met the children and grandchildren of the missionary’s late half-sister Agnes O’Brien.
The 59-year-old, from Cumbernauld, whose grandfather Harold Haining was Miss Haining’s cousin, only learned she had family links in Northern Ireland, Belgium and England after reading about the discovery of the will.
Mrs Greenlees, a retired primary school teacher, 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, 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.”
Caitriona Topping, 24, whose grandmother was Ms O’Brien, said she felt her connection with Miss Haining had been deepened after holding her will.
Miss Haining was the matron at the Scottish Mission school in Budapest from 1932-44.
An avid listener of BBC radio, Miss Haining was aware of the growing threat the Nazis posed to the Hungarian Jews in the 1940s but was determined to ensure the school was a place where all children would feel safe and protected.
She was repeatedly ordered by church officials to return to Scotland, but refused, writing: “If these children need me in days of sunshine, how much more do they need me in days of darkness.”
She was arrested by two Gestapo officers in Budapest and charged with working amongst Jews, listening to news broadcasts on the BBC and sending British prisoners of war parcels.
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.
Dr Barr said: “Jane’s story is one of the most remarkable stories of courage and loyalty.
“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.”