Felix Zandman is known on Wall Street as the brilliant scientist-entrepreneur whose billion-dollar Fortune 500 company, Vishay Intertechnology, reshaped the electronic component industry. But few are aware of Zandman’s incredible personal story: as a teenager he spent a year-and-a-half in Nazi occupied Poland, and that harrowing experience gave him the drive, discipline, and generosity of spirit that made his later success possible.Taught by his grandmother Tema that the only measure of wealth is what you give away, Zandman lost his entire world in 1943 when the ghetto in his native city of Grodno was destroyed. Jammed with four others into a tiny pit beneath the cottage of a poor Polish peasant, he was left with nothing but his inner resources of imagination, intellect, and will to fend off insanity and find a reason to go on living.Lying next to him in the hole, his uncle taught him higher mathematics, lessons he later turned to good use in winning a doctorate in physics from the Sorbonne. In 1966 he came to the United States, where one of his breakthrough discoveries became the basis for a company he named for his grandmother’s shtetl. Vishay revolutionized an industry and today employs sixteen thousand people worldwide, among them the grandson of the woman who saved him.
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