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Victims of Nazi persecution: British Diplomats commemorated

Victims of Nazi persecution: British Diplomats commemorated

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH OFFICE News Release issued by COI News Distribution Service. 19 November 2008

British diplomats who helped Jews and other victims of Nazi persecution are to be commemorated by a plaque in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The plaque will be unveiled by the Foreign Secretary David Miliband on 20 November 2008.

The Foreign Secretary said:

"This plaque honours those British diplomats who helped Jews and other victims of Nazi persecution during one of Europe's darkest hours. Some of these individuals are well known to us: Frank Foley, for example, the Passport Control Officer and Secret Intelligence Service Head of Station in Berlin, who visited concentration camps to get Jews out and hid others in his home; or Robert Smallbones, our Consul-General in Frankfurt, who worked 18 hour days issuing visas on his own authority in the aftermath of the Kristallnacht pogrom. Others who also helped may have escaped history's limelight, but all their efforts deserve to be remembered."

Sir Sigmund Sternberg said:

"The brave British diplomats, known and unknown, who displayed their concern for the suffering of Jews and other victims of Nazism, are properly entitled to the recognition and appreciation which we accord them with the unveiling of this plaque at the heart of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. I am grateful for the understanding and support offered by the FCO, led by the Foreign Secretary, in bringing this commemorative project to fruition. It will forever be a reminder of the fact that, even in the most terrible of circumstances, individuals of good conscience can make a contribution to the safeguarding of humanity."

Sir Martin Gilbert said:

"When the Holocaust is finally beyond living memory, the desire will remain to remember and to honour those who extended a helping hand. It is important to recognise individual bravery. It is also important to provide a reminder that human beings can, in situations where civilized values are being undermined, find the strength of character and purpose to resist the evil impulses of the age, and to rescue the victims of barbarity."

Notes for Editors:

1. The guiding force behind the plaque has been the interfaith campaigner Sir Sigmund Sternberg. FCO Historians have worked alongside Sir Sigmund's Three Faiths Forum and the renowned Holocaust historian Sir Martin Gilbert to bring the project to fruition.

2. The plaque, a bronze relief showing hands pulling apart barbed wire, is the work of the prominent sculptor Philip Jackson FRBS, who has undertaken numerous public and private commissions. The sculpture has been privately funded through donations made to the Three Faiths Forum. The inscription on the plaque reads

To commemorate those British diplomats who by their personal endeavours helped to rescue victims of Nazi oppression.

3. Many of those who were helped, or whose close relatives were helped, by British diplomats will be attending the unveiling of the plaque on 20 November

FCO Press Office: 020 7008 3100 Website: http://www.fco.gov.uk/news

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