The stories of ordinary people who find courage to act bravely in the most difficult of circumstances continue to resonate with us. Author Lynley Smith has uncovered one such story and she will be giving a talk at Central Library Peterborough tomorrow Wednesday 27 November at 1pm about her book From Matron to Martyr.
The story is about a distant relative of Lynley’s, Jane Haining, who was a Scottish missionary to Budapest before and during World War II. She worked as a matron of a girls’ home attached to the Scottish Mission and school in Budapest. Briefly, she remained in Budapest after the German invasion, was arrested and died in Auschwitz, a martyr for the sake of the children she looked after. She was named by Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum as one of the Righteous Among the Nations, in 1997.
The story is extremely powerful, so much so, that the second largest publisher in Hungary, Libri, has agreed to translate it into Hungarian and publish it there. It is also going to be used by a group working towards reconciliation between the Jewish community and Hungarian people in Hungary and surrounding countries next year.
Lynley will focus on how she came to write the book and the adventures she had as she travelled to research it. She also touches on the current state of anti-Semitism in Central Europe which brings a present day relevance to the story and explains why it is to be used next year to further the reconciliation process.
There is a connection to Christchurch in the story. Interestingly, Jane Haining’s best friend in Budapest, a lady name Frances Warburton Lee, who actually shared a prison cell with Jane at one stage, moved to Christchurch after the war. Lynley has not been able to trace her family. She, herself, would have passed on now. It could be that someone, perhaps a family member of Ms Lee’s, hearing about the talk and the book, could fill Lynley in on that information!