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Holocaust heroine Jane Haining honoured by PM

9 March 10 12:58 GMT

The family of a Church of Scotland missionary who died in the Nazi gas chambers has received a posthumous award in her honour at Downing Street.

Dumfriesshire-born Jane Haining worked at a Jewish orphanage in Hungary.

She refused to abandon the children in her care after the invasion by German forces in 1944 and was sent to Auschwitz, where she met her death.

A total of 28 people received the new British Heroes of the Holocaust award from the prime minister.

The creation of the honour was agreed last year.

It came in response to calls to recognise the efforts of people who helped Jews and others to escape the horrors of the holocaust.

Dumfries and Galloway MP Russell Brown was among those seeking a symbol of recognition.

He led a debate in Westminster asking for a change in the current honours system.

MPs declined to take that action but agreed to look at creating the new award which was due to be collected by Ms Haining's niece.

Jane Haining was gassed to death after being detained by the Gestapo, accused of political activity, helping Jews and of listening to the BBC.

At the outbreak of World War II, she was ordered by the Church to return home to Scotland from Hungary, where she was working with 400 girls in a Jewish orphanage.

Ms Haining, who was originally from Dunscore, was determined to remain with the children.

'Widespread support'

In May 1944 she was sent to Auschwitz concentration camp where she was tattooed as prisoner 79467, and died at the age of 47.

The new awards have been welcomed by Karen Pollock, the chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust.

"We are delighted that our initiative received widespread support and that the British government has given these brave people the recognition they have long deserved," she said.

"They provide a template of courage for today's young people - and clearly highlight the difference that can be made by standing up against injustice, hatred and prejudice.

"Many of these extraordinary British men and women risked their lives and never spoke about it afterwards. They are true unsung heroes."

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