Felix Zandman (May 7, 1928 – June 4, 2011) was the founder and Executive Chairman of the Board of Vishay Intertechnology – one of the world's largest manufacturers of electronic components. From 1946 to 1949 he studied in France at the University of Nancy physics and engineering. In parallel, he was enrolled in a Grande école of engineering Ensem (École nationale supérieure d'électricité et de mécanique). He received a Ph.D. at the Sorbonne as a physicist on a subject of photoelasticity. He was awarded the Edward Longstreth Medal from the Franklin Institute in 1962.
Felix Zandman was born in Grodno in the Second Polish Republic (now Belarus) and lived in Kresy until the Nazi-Soviet invasion of Poland. Following German Operation Barbarossa, in October 1941, at the age of 14 he arrived at the Grodno Ghetto (liquidated by the Nazis at the end of 1942) with parents, sisters, grandparents and many other relatives. He survived the Holocaust thanks to a family of Polish Righteous Jan and Anna Puchalski who hid him and his uncle for 17 months. Their main hiding place was a dugout 170 cm long, 150 cm wide and 120 cm tall.
Felix Zandman shared this hideaway with three other Jewish refugees. One of them, his uncle Sender Freydowicz, taught him trigonometry, and advanced mathematics in the long hours of darkness. The advancing Soviet Army liberated them in July 1944. He stayed with other survivors in Poland until he was able to emigrate legally to France in the summer of 1946.
Professional life as an employee
Zandman worked initially for two years as a lecturer at the École de l'air, the French Academy of Aeronautics. He then worked as an engineer in his specialty field of voltage measurement for a publicly owned company, which manufactured aircraft engines.
In 1956, Zandman presented his methods and self-developed instruments for the first time in the U.S.. He was able to establish important contacts with leading professors and well-known users of its specific field. He was eventually employed by the company Tatnall Measuring Systems in Philadelphia as director of basic research. Initially, he concentrated on measuring the development of his case, voltages of optical coatings. Then he developed a temperature-resistant electrical resistance. His employer, however, had no interest in the marketing of this invention.
Professional life as an entrepreneur
Felix Zandman put the potential of his invention to work. To this end he founded, in 1962, the company Vishay Intertechnology, Inc. His relative, Alfred P. Slaner, provided financial support for the initial funding. The company has developed into a Fortune 1000 company with many subsidiaries and over 22,000 employees worldwide. Vishay Intertechnology (NYSE: VSH) is a publicly traded company with a market capitalization of over a billion dollars.
In April 2008, Felix Zandman attended the March of the Living, where he shared the story of how he was rescued by Catholic Polish Righteous Among the Nations, Jan and Anna Puchalski, who hid him and his uncle for 17 months. His hiding place was a dugout 170 cm long, 150 cm wide and 120 cm tall that Felix Zandman shared with three other Jewish escapees. Felix Zandman told his story to thousands of young students from around the world who had gathered in Auschwitz-Birkenau to observe Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah)
Notes and references
- "Franklin Laureate Database - Edward Longstreth Medal 1962 Laureates". Franklin Institute. Retrieved November 16, 2011.
- Jr. Korn, Bertram, Jewish Exponent, 10-20-1995. "Survivor Triumphant: Felix Zandman's life story is a saga of success"
- Mordecai Paldiel, Saving the Jews Chapter: Sheltering and Hiding. Page 82-83. Published by Schreiber.
- Dr. Felix Zandman Receives Lifetime Achievement Award From the National Electronic Distributors Association
- "Felix Zandman 2008 Speech to March of the Living=Retrieved Jan 22, 2013".
- From Darkness to Photoelasticity Felix Zandman: Scientist, Inventor and Industrialist, Dana Ashkenazi, Galileo 105 (2007).