Interview on Radio Rhema, New Zealand: Globetrotting on a Shoestring
Interview Segment for a DVD about Jane Haining – aired late in 2014 on Hungarian mainstream TV:
Hungarian language interview with Lutheran Magazine, Budapest
Interview in Jerusalem – May, 2017
Recommendation for presentation on Jane Haining
From the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater USA – Holocaust Commission – July, 2015
As the director of the Holocaust Commission of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, I hear many speakers on subjects of all kinds relating to the terrible period of history we know as the Holocaust; some are survivors telling their own personal histories; some are from the ‘second generation’ sharing their parents’ stories of survival; some are scholars sharing their academic research and advancing our understanding of the Holocaust from an educational perspective.
Lynley Smith falls into NONE of those categories! The presentation she made to the members of our commission in July, 2014 was in depth, intriguing, engaging, and challenged us to think about the world we live in today in a different way than we like to do, with parallels to conditions in pre-war Europe that were too close for comfort. Those conditions, particularly of anti-Semitism, have got worse in the past 11 months.
In addition to introducing us to the story of Jane Haining, Lynley explained the research methodology she used in writing this book, as well as the usefulness of this book in understanding the current political climate in Europe. Her talk was riveting and I would recommend it for any audience interested in the history of the Holocaust, particularly its stories of personal survival, and in this case, of martyrdom.
Elena Baum – Director, Holocaust Commission, United Jewish Federation of Tidewater.
Radio Shalom (Auckland) interview, August, 2014
Holocaust Day Story – Waikato Daily Times – Jan 27, 2017.
Story of WWII hero recalled in Hamilton for Holocaust Remembrance Day
As WWII escalated, Scottish missionary Jane Haining refused go home. As discrimination escalates, one author continues to tell her heroic story.
Southland Times, New Zealand Story, December, 2013
Southland author’s book bridges faiths
A former Southland woman’s book will be used in a reconciliation initiative between the Jewish community and the secular and church communities in Hungary.
Journalist and author Lynley Smith, who was born in Invercargill and now lives at Snells Beach, north of Auckland, wrote her first book From Matron to Martyr: One Woman’s Ultimate Sacrifice for the Jews, which was published in the United States last year.
The book was about Jane Haining, a Scottish missionary who died at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.
Smith was touring New Zealand to launch the book and talk to schools, churches and at libraries about the topic.
Her book will be used next year by a group in Hungary called Fountains of Hope. The group is working towards a reconciliation between the Jewish community and the secular and church communities in Hungary, and is talking with schools and community groups.
‘‘The group want to use this story in their reconciliation work because they say her (Jane Haining’s) life epitomises what they are trying to teach young people of Hungary.’’
Speaking from Hungary, Fountains of Hope member Andrea Simonyi said the group would ‘‘definitely’’ use Smith’s book. Miss Haining’s example, was ‘‘very, very important’’.
The book will be launched in Budapest in October next year and also at the Holocaust Museum in Budapest.
Story of Distant Relative
Smith found out about Miss Haining, a distant relative, through a booklet her mother gave her before she died in 2005.
‘‘I read it and it touched my heart very deeply. I felt compelled to tell her story.’’
So, in 2009-10, she resigned from her journalism job, rented out her house and travelled overseas to follow in Miss Haining’s footsteps, researching her fictionalised diary as she went.
‘‘Every place I visited I met someone who could give me another piece of the jigsaw puzzle about her life.’’
She returned to Wanaka and in just three months wrote the biography of the Scottish missionary who died at the hands of the Nazis. She learnt Miss Haining had been a Scottish missionary to Budapest in the 1930s and 40s. In 1940 the Church of Scotland called all their missionaries home because World War II had started and it was becoming dangerous for foreigners living in Hungary. But Miss Haining wouldn’t go, Smith said.
She was a matron in a girls’ home and refused to leave, saying the girls needed her more than ever.
In 1944 the Germans invaded Hungary and two months later arrested her and put her in prison, she said.
She was then put on a train to AuschwitzBirkenau concentration camp and died two months later. No one knows the cause of death, Smith said.
‘‘Next year is 70 years since all this happened. This is the first time her story has been told in full.’’
Book Review by British Journalist Charles Gardner, on blirt-magazine.com January 27, 2014
As we recall the horror of how six million Jews were butchered at the hands of the Nazis, the life of a courageous Scottish lady has come into sharp focus with the publication of a new book.
In marking Holocaust Memorial Day, we remember the day, on January 27 1945, when the Red Army liberated the most notorious of the German death camps, Auschwitz-Birkenau, actually located in south-west Poland, where an estimated four million inmates perished in the gas chambers.
Jane Haining, from Dunscore near Dumfries in Scotland, had died there six months earlier, aged 47. Her crime was that she loved the Jews!
From Matron to Martyr – one woman’s ultimate sacrifice for the Jews, is authored by New Zealander Lynley Smith, a distant relative who travelled the world to research details for her magnificent portrayal of this brave woman – the only Scot to be honoured with a ‘Righteous among the Nations’ award by the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem.
She had been working as the matron of a girls’ home in Budapest, Hungary, for the previous dozen years. It was a boarding establishment of a school run by the Scottish Mission to Jews.
So dedicated was she to what she believed was her life’s calling that she refused to leave her post when given several opportunities to escape, and even being ordered home by her superiors who feared for her safety.
But more important to her was the safety of the Jewish girls under her care, already suffering under relentless discrimination and persecution even before the Nazis marched into their country.
Many of their parents were forcibly split up by the authorities as they sent the breadwinning Jewish men away, ostensibly to work camps, leaving families destitute and distressed.
The children often took refuge in the arms of Jane, who loved to comfort them with hugs and prayers of assurance. When she was forced by new laws to sew yellow stars onto the uniforms of her girls, she sobbed uncontrollably. And when some of the poorer pupils had no footwear, she effectively cut off any remaining ties with her homeland by using the soft leather of her suitcase to make soles for the girls’ shoes.
She could identify with those who had lost parents as her mother died in childbirth when she was only five, her baby sister Helen lasting just 18 months, and her father died soon after remarrying, leaving his grieving widow pregnant.
Jane was eventually arrested by the Gestapo on a series of charges which basically amounted to the fact that she showed too much concern for the Jews.
Leaving her girls distraught, she was moved around various local prisons before being corralled into a cattle truck, crushed in with some 90 other women in conditions worse than animals would suffer with access neither to water nor toilets in the long and tortuous journey to Auschwitz.
She died soon afterwards, on July 17 1944, allegedly of natural causes. But this is hardly likely since she had a strong constitution and had held up well even when sharing her food with her fellow inmates in prison.
A postcard written two days before her death indicated no ill-health, but hinted at her impending ‘promotion’ to meet with her Lord in heaven.
Intriguingly, in a chapter titled A View from the Summit early on in the book, the author imagines the scene of Jane’s arrival in paradise, which serves the useful purpose of taking the sting out of the horrors that ensue in the narrative. Indeed the Bible speaks of how the promise of resurrection removes the sting of death!
The book has been translated into Hungarian, and the government there has also honoured Jane for her sacrifice.
Yet she had sought no honour in this world except to do the will of God and love his Chosen People.
School Report Lytton High School, New Zealand March, 2014
I just wanted to say a huge thank you for your presentation at our high school. Your presentation targeted at the appropriate level, our year 9 and 10 students. They all were thoroughly engaged, their behaviour and level of attention throughout the hour was a reflection of this.
The students and staff enjoyed your role play session and were able to relate to the clear message of the dangers of discrimination. The topic of your great great … aunt’s courage and sacrifice, WW2, anti-semitism and discrimination are all directly relevant to our curriculum subjects of racism, human rights, heroes and the Holocaust. The feedback from students and staff has been very positive. If you are ever presenting again we would love to have you back!
Regards, Sally Dalrymple (Librarian).
School report Long Bay College, New Zealand, September 2014
Lynley Smith shared a fascinating story of the Holocaust with 80 of our students. Throughout the role play and talks, students were fully engaged, aided by Lynley’s evident passion for sharing Jane’s story. The students were left with powerful message of the perils of indifference. I am sure that the students will remember both Jane’s story and contemplate the issues raised for a long time to come.
Ms Catrin Vickers, Head of History