1994 sculpture by Jonathan Sells depicting ‘Flambard’ the Bishop of Durham, responsible for planning the building of the Priory church in 1094. Photo above © John Allen.
“The spy who saved 10,000 Jews”
Dedication held on May 8th, 2005
Photos by Mike Lang, Highbridge Somerset
6′ x 6′ x 8′ Purbeck Stone
Click the following links to read about the unveiling of the Frank Foley sculpture:-
BBC covers the Frank Foley sculpture unveiling
Frank Foley sculpture dedicated
Sculptor’s tribute to spy who saved Jews
I was commissioned by the Frank Foley Fair Committee in Highbridge, Somerset to create a stone sculpture in memory of Frank Foley. This project was very important to me, emotionally as well as artistically and I have created a sculpture to embrace both the pain and fear that people faced in Nazi Germany during those terrible times.
Frank Foley was born at 7 Walrow Terrace, Highbridge, Somerset. He headed the passport division in the British Embassy in Berlin during the 1930’s up to the start of World War II in September 1939.
Breaking and bending the immigration rules whenever necessary, he handed out visas to thousands of Jews, anxious to leave Nazi Germany to countries under British rule. Many of these people did not qualify for visas, yet Foley overlooked these discrepancies, and in the interest of saving them from the Gestapo, gave them visas, which made it possible for them to leave the country in time.
He is credited with making it possible for thousands of Jews to leave Nazi Germany, many of whom did not qualify under the immigration laws in force at the time. Foley died in 1958. Based on the testimonies recently received at Yad Vashem, Francis Foley was awarded the title ‘Righteous Among the Nations’.
Some of the ideas that I had behind the components in the statue are:
- Larger than life figures as these were larger than life people!
- The father looks downwards with a worried look as his daughter, tugging on his sleeve, innocently points to the train engine and cattle truck. From the chilling stories he has heard, he knows these trains are taking people to their incarceration in concentration camps. The blankness in his eyes shows the numbness in his heart. There is a look of fear witnessing the horrors he has been living through. Now there is hope.
- The birds are symbols of the two people, father and daughter, being freed. Birds flying symbolise freedom and one of the birds has an olive branch depicting the dove of peace, as well as in the Noah’s Ark story about newfound land. The wing of peace becomes the hand of friendship. The other bird appears out of the train’s smoke symbolising the phoenix rising from the ashes : resurrection and rebirth.
- As Frank Foley stamps the visas of the Jewish man and his daughter, his look is one of proud defiance as he breaks and bends the rules, to help get these people out of Germany to freedom and life.
- The heads of the two men have been left joined to show the importance of empathy, understanding and communication between fellow human beings.
Highbridge and Somerset connections include:
- An apple!
- A Boat – Highbridge was once an important port. It also symbolises travel and leaving the country for other lands.
- The Highbridge town clock – the time on the clock depicts the period during which Frank Foley did these courageous deeds.
- Beneath the clock hangs a lone star. Ask the residents of Highbridge about this story.
- The Train has a joint connection – it represents the GWR line which crossed by Highbridge station where the large locomotive works were for the S & DJ (Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway). 300 people were made redundant on its closure. The train is also symbolic of those used to take Jewish people and others to concentration camps.
- The Bridge is small because the once important Highbridge has been forgotten.