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24 September 2014

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You are in: Somerset > History > History features > Historic People > Highbridge honours Frank Foley with statue

Frank Foley

Highbridge honours Frank Foley with statue

A statue of Frank Foley, the MI6 agent who helped to save thousands of Jews from the Nazis in the 1930s, has been unveiled in the town of his birth.

Described as "a true British hero", Frank Foley is being commemorated for his bravery in helping thousands of Jews escape from pre-war Nazi Germany.

A band of dedicated local volunteers have been fundraising for over five years and have raised over £25,000 to have a permanent tribute to Frank Foley in his Somerset birthplace of Highbridge.

Money was raised from donations, coffee mornings, Jewish communities and the annual Frank Foley Fair.

Statue of Frank Foley

The statue can be seen in front of Highbridge Community Centre on Market Street.

It was commissioned in 2000 by Rev Mark Bond of Highbridge Vicarage on behalf of the Frank Foley Committee, who have also erected a plaque outside the house where he was born.

Sculptor Jonathan Sells started work on the statue in 2004 that depicts Major Foley stamping the visa of an anonymous Jewish refugee.

At the base, it includes local references that would have been familiar to Major Foley, and carries allusions to symbols of hope, re-birth and freedom, which continue through to the two figures.

Who was Frank Foley?

Born in Highbridge in 1884, Major Frank Foley was an MI6 agent who used his cover as a passport control officer at the British Embassy in Berlin during the 1930s to provide the necessary papers for Jewish people to leave Nazi Germany for sanctuary.

A deeply religious Catholic who frequently risked his own life by venturing into concentration camps to help free Jewish internees, he also assisted them to obtain forged passports and even hid them in his own home until they were able to leave Germany.

His selfless bravery saved the lives of thousands, maybe tens of thousands, of Jewish people - many of who remained in ignorance of their unassuming benefactor's identity.

last updated: 17/04/2008 at 09:05
created: 05/05/2005

Have Your Say

What do you think of Frank Foley's heroic efforts? Do you feel a sense of pride that he was born in Somerset? Do you like the statue?

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

Sarah, Perth, Western Australia
I am currently reading Michael Smith's novel "Foley: The Spy Who Saved 10,000 Jews". The statue is a well-deserved honour and tribute to a man who has surely earned his place in heaven. It's a great pity that the evil majority in Germany during the war couldn't have shown even a fraction of the compassion and plain decency that are epitomised by Frank Foley.

Peter Morgan, Norwich
Mr. Foley made a difference when he could have easily done nothing. His response was not only couragous, but also a example of what mankind is capable of.

I have recently read of Mr. Foley, & he was another remarkable selfless person who did what he thought was right.

Asher Rubin from Israel age 44
Frank Foley saved my grandfather Gunter Powitzer. Foley's heroic efforts responsible for the life of our family.

Kaitlyn Walsh - 16 years old
After doing an extensive amount of research on Foley and his commendable efforts towards the Jewish people during the time of WWI, I do beleive that this statue is a great addition to the Somerset community. I have read Michael Smith's novel "Foley: The Spy Who Saved 10,000 Jews" and if you think otherwise than myself on the building of this statue, read this novel and your opinion will be quickly altered. I did a university project on Foley, and I believe that any claim to props that he can get, he should. He was an outstanding man that did much for the good of humanity. His selfless endevours will be greatly appreciated for years to come.

Sue Scarcella
I just heard about Frank Foley while listening to a sermon on Austrlaian Christian Channel, so went on line to research. Yet another great man whose reward will be a crown with thousands of stars. Yes, victoria, you are correct that Foley broke the law and that this is wrong. However, this is a fallen world and sometimes there is no totally right solution. A similar decision had to be made by the Hebrew midwives at the time of Moses' birth. Did they inform authorities of the birth of Hebrew boys or did they lie and say that the Hebrew women gave birth before they got there, so they could not kill the children? Both involved wrongdoing, disobedience on the one hand and lying on the other. Where the choice must be made, and no clear right or wrong exists, then the greater right must supercede. As the apostle Peter said in Act, when told not to speak about Jesus "We must obey God rather than men". Let God deal with the sin of Frank Foley, just as He will deal with ours. That is why Jesus was born, died, and rose. I think Frank understood his position before God very clearly, that he was just a man who was in an impossible position, one that only God could right.

Not only is this a timely and worthy tribute to a truly great man. The sculpture is an example of what can be done when good, old-fashioned artistic skills are put into practice. During my time at art school in Taunton I would have given my eye teeth to have been able to carve with such precision and at the same time possesed of a warmth and humanity that could effortlessly bring solid marble to such joyous life.

Sophie -13 year old!!!
I had to learn about Frank Foley in history and i was glad he did something like save 10,000 jews.We should all be equal!

1. God commands us to obey the Government whether we like it or not. Frank Foley may have been heroic according to mankind, but I believe he was disobedient to God. If he assisted Jews in obtaining forged passports, then he broke the law. He also committed deceit. If he hid Jews in his own house, then he probably lied to people and said they weren't there. The Bible says that God hates liars. 2. As far as the statue, I think that a statue of anyone is wrong. It provides for people to worship that person. No one should be worshipped except God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

the money could be used for beter purposes like helping to build peace in israel!

yes i think that he was very heroic and did a very daring and brave job and i like the statue it shows his well being

lottie matthews
I live in Highbridge, just across the road from where Frank Foley was born. We are very proud to have a hero that was born and bred in Somerset and all that he achieved should be a reminder for us all to look after each other.

David Jacobs
Jewish tradition says that one who saves one life it is as if they have saved the world. Frank Foley saved countless Jews in the 1930's Their descendants now number many many more. If it was not for Frank's actions they would not be alive today. Frank Foley A truly righteous gentile

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