Britain's Prince William lays a wreath during a ceremony commemorating the six million Jews killed by the Nazis in the Holocaust, in the Hall of Remembrance at Yad Vashem.
(photo credit: DEBBIE HILL/REUTERS)
At a ceremony in the town of Stourbridge this week, the Duke of Cambridge unveiled a statue of Frank Foley, a British spy who helped save thousands of Jews during World War II.
On Tuesday, Prince William took part in the ceremony alongside MP Ian Austin, who was raised in a family of Jewish refugees and spearheaded the movement to honor Foley, along with the Holocaust Educational Trust.
“This message goes out from here about the bravery of Frank Foley, and about his stand against persecution,” said Stephen Higgs, a great nephew of Foley, during the ceremony, “which is still a very valid message in the modern world today.”
Foley, who was named in 1999 as a Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem, was a British spy with MI6, who was stationed in Berlin in the 1930s and then in Norway when the war broke out. During the Holocaust, Foley worked to save more than 10,000 Jews, by hiding them in his home, helping people find false passports and even visiting concentration camps to rescue victims. He issued thousands of visas to German Jews fleeing Nazi persecution, bending British law and risking his own life by operating in Germany right under the nose of Nazi officials.
After the statue’s unveiling, Prince William met and spoke with family members of Foley, as well as some of those who had been saved by his bravery.
Foley’s work was never recognized in his lifetime. But earlier this year, MI6 honored Foley – who has been referred to as the British Oskar Schindler – by unveiling a bust at its London headquarters.
“Foley went to remarkable lengths to save Jews, right under the nose of the Nazis, even visiting concentration camps to remove them,” said Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, in a statement on Tuesday. “Foley is the ultimate role model. His heroic stand should be a source of pride and inspiration to us all. While antisemitism continues to be a blight on our society; this statue will serve as a permanent reminder to the next generation of the power one individual’s actions. We are enormously grateful to His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge. His support sends a strong signal about the importance of keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive and fills us all with hope.”
Over the past year, Prince William has made several public visits related to Holocaust education. When he visited Jerusalem in June, the duke toured Yad Vashem
, met with Holocaust survivors and took part in a wreath-laying ceremony at the museum. Writing in the guest book, Prince William wrote that “it is almost impossible to comprehend this appalling event in history. Every name, photograph and memory recorded her is a tragic reminder of the unimaginable human cost of the Holocaust and the immense loss suffered by the Jewish people,” he wrote.
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And last summer, Prince William and his wife visited Stutthof, the Nazi concentration camp in Poland, and met survivors of the camp.
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