Lunchtime Exhibition Talk: Jane Haining’s Letter from Auschwitz and the Foundation of a Christo-centric Myth

Monday 15th May 2023


This event is organised as part of the Holocaust Letters exhibition events series.


This lecture examines Jane Haining through a microhistory approach. Haining was a Scottish missionary who worked among Christian and Jewish girls in Budapest, with the intention of bringing Jews into the Christian church. The chief conversionary tactic was to lead a ‘Christian example’. Jane Haining elected to remain in Budapest throughout the war, which subsequently led to her arrest in March 1944. Subsequently, she was transported to Auschwitz where she was murdered. Communication from Haining is scant, but what little information exists is frequently used to present her as a selfless ‘Christian martyr’. Haining’s letters, including her final correspondence from Auschwitz, tell us little about her experiences. Sessa argues that the Church of Scotland uses these letters to offer an apologetic narrative of its own missionary past, and identifies this as a dangerous trend within the context of memory studies.


Dr Alex Sessa completed his PhD in Holocaust Studies at the University of Southampton under the supervision of Professor Tony Kushner. His research interests include Memory Studies, Jewish-Christian relations, Gender Studies, and Public History. He currently authors articles examining antisemitism and racism.

Book here ( Tickets available from Saturday 1st April 2023)