Magnusson Fellowship: Professor Eva Haller talks to Dr Sally Magnusson

07 March 2014

Eva Haller

Eva Haller

One of the world’s leading human rights activists who escaped Nazi persecution in the 1940s with the help of a Scottish missionary teacher is to visit Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU).

Philanthropist Professor Eva Haller will talk about her life’s work during an in-conversation event with writer and broadcaster Dr Sally Magnusson, who is an honorary graduate of GCU, on Wednesday, March 12.

It is part of an ongoing series of Magnusson Fellowship events, established in memory of the University’s late Chancellor Magnus Magnusson. Leading international figures who have taken part include Professor Muhammad Yunus, now Chancellor of GCU, who delivered the inaugural Magnusson Fellowship lecture in 2008; Dr Will Hutton, the Executive Vice Chair of The Work Foundation and former editor-in-chief of The Observer (2010 lecture);  Dr Mary Robinson, the former President of Ireland and international human rights and climate change activist (2011 lecture) and Professor Renata Selecl, the renowned Slovenian philosopher, sociologist and legal theorist (2012 lecture).

Eva was 12 years old in 1942 when she, along with her brother John, joined the Hungarian Resistance and helped to print and distribute anti-Nazi leaflets in Budapest. She was forced into hiding when German forces occupied the city and was taken into an orphanage and protected by the famous Dumfries-born Church of Scotland missionary Jane Haining, who later died in Auschwitz for helping Jewish children.

Eva believes that Jane Haining’s courage saved her from the terrible fate that awaited so many Jewish people. During her visit to Glasgow, Eva will visit Queen’s Park Church in Glasgow, which features a stained glass window dedicated to Jane Haining.

Just months before Hungary was liberated, Eva’s brother was killed as he attempted to cross the border into Yugoslavia. It is in his memory that Eva has dedicated her life to helping others in trouble.

She went on to emigrate to the US, where she worked as a cleaner to put herself through university, going on to gain a Masters in Social Work. In 1965, she and her late husband established a marketing company that was one of the first to advocate women’s business issues. In less than three years, the company had made $1million, an enormous sum for the time.

She and her late husband then left to volunteer with UNICEF in South East Asia for two years. After their return to the United States Eva and her husband re-opened their business, the success of which has allowed Eva to pursue the philanthropic projects that she says are her life's purpose.

Among her many charity board positions Eva is Chair of Free the Children, the United Nation's partner to address the issues of children and armed conflict. In May 2013, Eva Haller received the Forbes Women's Summit first Excellence in Mentorship Award. The same year, she was awarded the Friends of the United Nations Population Administration Lifetime Achievement Award.

Eva will also be spending time at GCU London, GCU’s postgraduate campus in the capital, where she will meet children and parents from the GCU London Club, the sister club of GCU’s award-winning Caledonian Club which encourages raised educational and social aspiration among young people who may not have considered university.

  • Eva Haller: A Life of Inspired Meddling -  In Conversation with Dr Sally Magnusson takes place on Wednesday, March 12 at GCU from 6pm. To attend, register for free today.