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Mar 2004 Journal

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Holocaust Memorial Day: Home town honours Frank Foley, Britain's Schindler

Captain Frank Foley was stationed in Berlin as the head of MI6's covert intelligence operations in Germany's capital in the inter-war years until the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939. His cover as Passport Control Officer provided him with official, though non-diplomatic, status and it was in this capacity that he saved many thousands of Jews by enabling them to escape from Germany before the outbreak of war. Some are known to be among the members of the AJR, though many others do not themselves appreciate that it was Foley who provided the all-essential visas with which they and their families obtained entry into Britain, Palestine and other countries in the British Empire.

A hand-carved and inscribed limestone memorial plaque to Foley, who died in 1958, has been unveiled in his home town of Stourbridge in Worcestershire by Rabbi Dame Julia Neuberger in the presence of Foley's niece Patricia Dunstan, senior officials of Dudley Council, be-medalled standard carriers of local branches of the Royal British Legion, Michael Smith, Foley's biographer, and Richard Krakowski and other members of Stourbridge's Frank Foley Study Group. A moving dedication ceremony included the reading of a psalm by Rabbi Leonard Tann, an address by Belsen survivor Paul Oppenheimer, and the reciting by Rabbi Neuberger of Kaddish, the Jewish memorial prayer.

The fact that Foley was a British spy, said Michael Smith, 'made his efforts on behalf of the Jews even more dangerous.' Having no diplomatic immunity, he was in danger of arrest at any time, yet he went into concentration camps to get Jews out, hid them in his home - among whom was Rabbi Leo Baeck - helped them to obtain forged passports, and ignored the rules to provide them with visas.

For his country Foley was also a brilliant intelligence officer, recruiting one of the best Soviet agents the West ever had, persuading German scientists to hand over the secrets of Hitler's rocket programme, and playing a key role in the remarkable Double-cross counter-espionage. He was also chosen to debrief Deputy Führer Rudolph Hess following his unanticipated flight to Scotland.

In 1999 the memory of Frank Foley was honoured in perpetuity by Israel at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem as one whose acts placed him among the 'Righteous among the Nations'.

Foley, the Spy Who Saved 10,000 Jews by Michael Smith, was first published in 1999 by Hodder & Stoughton.
Ronald Channing

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