Updated: Aug 21, 2021
The Duke of Cambridge unveiled a statue of a "quiet, unassuming" Frank Foley, to honour his work saving thousands of Jews from the Holocaust.
The bronze statue honours MI6 officer Major Frank Foley who was described as 'a true British hero' by MI6.
The statue was made by local artist Andy DeComyn & was unveiled by the Duke of Cambridge on 18 September 2018.
Foley who served in both world wars & died in 1958 - saved more than 10,000 people from persecution. He retired in Stourbridge, where the bronze statue was unveiled at Mary Stevens Park.
Mr Foley exploited his cover as a passport control officer at the British Consulate in Berlin during the 1920s & 1930s. He provided visas to those who feared persecution under Nazi racial laws.
Photo Above: Prince William, Duke of Cambridge speaks with Michael Mamelock & views his emigration papers as he meets families of those helped by Major Frank Foley .
In January this year, the Secret Intelligence Service said Mr Foley was 'a true British hero. Dignified, compassionate & brave'.
"A true British hero. Dignified, compassionate and brave."
– SIS TRIBUTE
Their statement added: "Frank Foley did not carry out his work for personal gain; he did not do it for national recognition. "Indeed, many of those he saved knew nothing of the quiet, unassuming British man at the consulate who saved them. Amongst the many thousands he saved were the grandparents of an SIS/MI6 officer who is serving today.
"Frank Foley enjoyed almost a decade's peaceful retirement with his family in Stourbridge before he died at home on May 8 1958 - the anniversary of the Allied victory in Europe.
"It was a typically low-key, unspectacular end to a life whose frequent dramas were a counterpoint to his quiet & modest personality. That recognition of his remarkable achievements came only after his death is surely the way he would have wanted it."
The ceremony was the result of a campaign by the Holocaust Educational Trust & Dudley North MP Ian Austin (pictured above).
Major Francis Edward Foley (b.24 November 1884, Highbridge, Somerset – d.8 May 1958, Stourbridge) was a British Secret Intelligence Service officer. As a passport control officer for the British embassy in Berlin, Foley "bent the rules" & helped thousands of Jewish families escape from Nazi Germany after Kristallnacht & before the outbreak of the Second World War. He is officially recognised as a British Hero of the Holocaust.
After studying the Classics at the Université de France in Poitiers, Foley travelled around Europe & became fluent in both French & German.
He graduated from the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, & was commissioned as a second lieutenant into the Hertfordshire Regiment on 25 January 1917. He was appointed temporary Captain on 20 September 1917, while commanding an infantry company of the 1st Battalion the Hertfordshire Regiment, & was later with the 2nd/6th Battalion North Staffordshire Regiment, during which time he was mentioned in despatches. He was encouraged to apply for the Intelligence Corps.
He was subsequently offered the post of passport control officer in Berlin which was a cover for his main duties as head of the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) station. During the 1920's & 30's, Foley was successful in recruiting agents & acquiring key details of German military research & development.
Foley is mostly remembered as a "British Schindler". In his role as passport control officer, he helped thousands of Jews escape from Nazi Germany. At the 1961 trial of former ranking Nazi Adolf Eichmann, he was described as a "Scarlet Pimpernel" for the way he risked his own life to save Jews threatened with death by the Nazis.
Despite having no diplomatic immunity & being liable to arrest at any time, Foley would bend the rules when stamping passports & issuing visas, to allow Jews to escape "legally" to Britain or Palestine, which was then controlled by the British. Sometimes he went further, going into internment camps to get Jews out, hiding them in his home, & helping them get forged passports. One Jewish aid worker estimated that he saved "tens of thousands" of people from the Holocaust.
In 1939 & 1940, he was a passport control officer in Norway until the Germans invaded, when he was attached to C-in-C Norwegian Forces in the Field, for which services he received the Norwegian Knight's Cross of the Order of St. Olaf.
On 1 January 1941, he was awarded Companion of the Order of St. Michael & St. George (CMG) as a Captain in respect of services to the Foreign Office. In 1941, he was given the task of questioning Hitler's Deputy Rudolf Hess after Hess's flight to Scotland. After Hess was hospitalized in 1942, Foley helped coordinate MI5 & MI6 in running a network of double agents, the Double Cross System.
He returned to Berlin after the war under the cover of Assistant Inspector General of the Public Safety Branch of the Control Commission in Germany, where he was involved in hunting for ex-SS war criminals.
In 1949, he retired to Stourbridge, Worcestershire and died there in 1958.
Among his awards are; the Order of St. Olaf Knight's Cross (Norwegian), awarded in 1941;
Companion of the Order of St. Michael & St. George awarded on 1 January 1941;
Righteous Among the Nations, awarded in October 1999 posthumously by Israel; &
British Hero of the Holocaust, awarded posthumously in 2010.
Living With The Enemy: My Secret Life On The Run From The Nazis.
This is still the best book I have ever read, no question & I have read a lot that's for sure.
The story begins when Freddie Knoller is forced to abandon his family & flee Vienna as Nazi Brownshirts swept through his apartment building in November 1938. Little more than a schoolboy, his desperate journey took him, among many other places, to Paris, where he earned a living guiding the Nazis around the red light district, an occupation that provoked complex feelings of guilt, elation & fortune. He ended up joining the French resistance, until his luck run out, & Freddie was soon on the run again before he fell victim to a friend's betrayal that saw him transported straight to Auschwitz. He somehow survived imprisonment in Auschwitz, Monovitz & Bergen-Belsen, & was liberated by the British army in 1945.
Photos above; Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge as patron of the Imperial War Museum Foundation, met Freddie last year & other veterans of World War II. Pictured are: Ted Cordery (L) and John Harrison (2nd R) & Freddie Knoller (2nd L) , during a visit to the Imperial War Museum on 28 September 28, 2017 in London (Photo by Frank Augstein - WPA Pool/Getty Images)