This week in the West Midlands, a ceremony attended by the Duke of Cambridge unveiled a statue to Major Frank Foley.
Foley, who was born in 1884 in Somerset, fought in the First World War and served as a MI6 officer during World War Two.
He used his cover role at the British Passport Office in Berlin to secure Visas for Jews fleeing the Third Reich. By bending the strict visa rules and organising false passports and documents, Jews could escape from Nazi Germany.
Throughout the 1920s and 30s Major Foley helped over 10,000 Jewish people seek refuge in Great Britain & Mandatory Palestine. In some instances, he visited concentration camps and used his influence to remove people from the camps. He also hid Jews in his home until it was safe for them to flee to safety. Due to his membership of the intelligence services, Major Foley had no diplomatic immunity. He was at constant risk of being apprehended by the Nazi regime.
In January of this year, the Secret Intelligence Service described Major Foley as “A true British hero. Dignified, compassionate and brave” and many of those who were helped by Major Foley have described how his selfless and brave actions saved their lives.
He would go on to run the MI6 ‘Double Cross’ operation which controlled German Double Agents in Britain.
Retiring from MI6 in 1949, Major Foley died in his home in Stourbridge in 1958, having never spoken of his wartime exploits.
As of 1999, he has been recognised in the Yad Vashem memorial in Israel.
His actions would not have come to public attention without the research and hard work of historian and author Michael Smith, who ensured that Major Foley will be remembered amongst many others who resisted the Nazi regime and saved the lives of many.