Saturday, 22 November 2008

Israel honours forgotten British spy

Its heartening to hear, albeit belatedly, stories such as this, of people who risked their lives to save others. How appropriate that their memory is honoured in this way.

"A British MI6 officer who saved thousands of Jews from the Holocaust has been honoured by Israel. Frank Foley, who died in 1958, provided exit visas to enable up to 10,000 Jews to escape Nazi Germany before the outbreak of war. After lobbying from Britain, Israel's Holocaust Memorial Centre, Yad Vashem, has awarded him the same honour that was bestowed on the German hero, Oskar Schindler. Until remarkably recently, Captain Frank Foley was a forgotten hero.

In the late 1930s he was officially head of the passport control office at the British Embassy in Berlin but secretly he was the MI6 station head. He defied both the Nazis and UK policy to help thousands of Jews escape to Palestine. Capt Foley also sheltered Jews in his own home and managed to free some who had been sent to concentration camps. Blind eye Because he worked for British intelligence, his role was kept secret even after the war and was only exposed by a recent book.

His bravery came to light from information in a new book Foley: The Spy Who Saved 10,000 Jews, by Michael Smith. Capt Foley is also thought to have turned a blind eye to Mossad's operations in the late 1930s to smuggle Jews to Palestine from Germany, despite it being in outright opposition to UK policy.

In a statement Yad Vashem said: "There is no doubt that Foley worked over and above and in many cases in contravention of regulations to provide visas to Jews wanting to immigrate to countries under the British mandate, including Israel. "He provided thousands of Jews trying to leave Germany with visas. Due to his actions he helped save many Jews as they were about to be arrested and sent to concentration camps, or even those who had already been sent to camps."

More here