A British spy who helped smuggle German Jews out of Berlin in the 1930s has been praised by the current head of MI6 in a rare public acknowledgement of espionage work.
Frank Foley, whose good work only became known to the wider public in the last 15 years, was an MI6 officer posted to Berlin, where he ostensibly worked as an embassy passport officer.
There he was able to issue papers to thousands of Jews seeking passage to Palestine or Britain by bending the visa rules, as well as securing Jews’ release from internment camps and hiding fugitives in his apartment.
In a declassified note from 1933, Foley writes that his office was “overwhelmed” by requests from Jews to leave for “anywhere in the British empire,” describing the applicants as “professional men of the highest standing, including some who were wounded in the German side during the [First World] war”.
Sir Alex Younger, head of MI6, on Tuesday said: “While many condemned and criticised the Nazis’ discriminative laws, Frank took action. With little regard for his personal safety he took a stance against evil.”
Younger said Foley “knew the dire consequences were he to get caught” but that his “tenacity and passion saved the lives of many thousands of European Jews… he ensured that they could travel safely out of the clutches of Hitler’s killers.”
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