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A Modern Story of Cain and Abel

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This article is based on the life story of Felix Zandman, Ph.D., the founder and chief technology officer of Vishay Intertechnology - one of the world's largest providers of electronic components, http://www.mako.co.il/mako-vod-mako/documentary-s1/VOD-b11668d673e8031006.htm

In the Hebrew Bible, Cain and Abel were the two sons of Adam and Eve. As the story goes, Adam knew his wife Eve intimately, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain. She said, "I have had a male child with the Lord's help." Then she also gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel became a shepherd of a flock, but Cain cultivated the land.

In the course of time Cain presented some of the land's produce as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also presented an offering - some of the firstborn of his flock and their fat portions. The Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but He did not have regard for Cain and his offering. Cain was furious, and he was downcast.

Then the Lord said to Cain, "Why are you furious? And why are you downcast? If you do right, won't you be accepted? But if you do not do right, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must master it." Cain said to his brother Abel, "Let's go out to the field." And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.- Genesis 4:1-8

Felix Zandman was born in Grodno, Belarus, then in Eastern Poland. During WWII, in October 1941, at the age of 14, his family, parents, sisters, grandparents and many other relatives were forced to move to live in the Grodno Ghetto, which was liquidated at the end of 1942. Felix Zandman 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 centimeter long, 150 centimeter wide and, only 120 centimeter tall, a grave type hole. Felix Zandman shared this hideaway with three other Jewish refugees, one of them was his uncle Sender Freydowicz, who taught him trigonometry, and advanced mathematics in the long hours of darkness in their hideaway hole. The advanced Soviet Army liberated them in July 1944. With other survivors, Felix remained for a short time in Poland to only realize that Poland became a large Jewish graveyard. In the summer of 1946, Zandman was able to emigrate, legally, to France.

His uncle teaching did not go to waste. From 1946 to 1949 Zandman studied physics and engineering at the University of Nancy, France. In parallel, he was enrolled in a Grande École of engineering ENSEM (Ecole Nationale Supérieure d'Electricité et de Mécanque). He received his Ph.D. at the Sorbonne University, as a physicist, on a subject of photoelasticity and was awarded the Edward Longstreth Medal, in 1962.

Eventually, Zandman immigrated to live in the United States. In 1956, for the first time in the U.S, Zandman presented his methods and self-developed instruments. He was able to establish important contacts with leading professors and well-known users of this specific field. Eventually, he was employed by Tatnall Measuring Systems company, in Philadelphia, as the director of basic research where he developed a temperature-resistant electrical resistance. His employer, however, had no interest in marketing his invention, in fact no one was. Felix Zandman was left with one option, to market his invention all by himself. With his $4,000 savings and some financial help from his relative, Alfred P. Slaner, Felix Zandman put the potential of his invention to work and in 1962 he founded the company Vishay Intertechnology, Inc. The company has developed into a Fortune 1000 company, with many subsidiaries and over 22,000 employees worldwide, to include a large plant in Dimona, Israel. Vishay Intertechnology (NYSE: VSH) is a publicly traded company with a market capitalization of over 2.5 billion dollars.

Until then Felix Zandman could account for an impressive financial victory.

AEG-Telefunken was a company its owner, prior to Nazi Germany, was Walther Rathenau, the German-Jewish industrialist, politician, writer, and statesman who served as the Foreign Minister of Germany during the Weimar Republic. Rathenau was assassinated in a plot, led by Erwin Kern and Hermann Fischer, two ultra-nationalist army officers, on June 24, 1922, two months after the signing of the Treaty of Rapallo, 1922. On that morning, Rathenau was driving from his house to Wilhelmstrabe, as he did daily, and predictably. During the trip his car was passed by another, in which three armed men were sitting. They simultaneously shot at the minister with machine guns, and threw a hand grenade into the car before quickly driving away. After the Nazis came to power, in 1933, they declared Rathenau's assassins to be national heroes and designated June 24 as a holiday of celebration.

When Hitler came to power, he decreed to seize all Jewish businesses in Germany and Walther Rathenau was forced to walk away from his family enterprise, AEG-Telefunken. During the war, Telefunken served as the Wehrmacht's Communication Corps.
Let us take a simple human story, based on a biblical story; Cain wanted to kill Abel and was doing all he could to achieve his scheme to kill his brother. He even killed all of Abel's family. But Abel managed to hide and survived. Then, Cain lost all his assets and Abel, who became successful and a wealthy man, bought all of Cain's assets and even gave him a job.
What is the title to such a story? Is it victory? Possible. But, if Cain is the Nazi, Adolf Hitler, and Abel is the Jew, Felix Zandman, there is here more than just a victory. It is revenge.

After the War, Telefunken, the enterprise founded and owned by the Jew Rathenau, which the Nazis seized and made their trademark brand, became the splendor pride of the German electronic industry.

In the Autumn on 1985, Daimler-Benz Corporation took over Telefunken. Ten years later, because of financial and management difficulties, the Daimler-Benz consortium's management announced to the German government that Telefunken is up for sale and there is a danger that thousands of its employees will find themselves jobless.

When Felix Zandman, the Holocaust survivor Jew, the owner of Vishay Industries, heard that Telefunken is up for sale, something in his heart jumped.

No doubt Telefunken were Nazis. They worked for Hitler and it was a company that was involved with the Wehrmacht's activities. Zandman knew that if he bought this company he can declare victory, that a Jew, the Nazis wanted to kill, acquires such a company and manage it.

Felix Zandman negotiated the purchase of Telefunken, during which time the German government did all it could that the American industrialist will save Telefunken.

When Felix Zandman left his hotel, to go sign the sale and purchase agreement with Daimler-Benz management, he took along with him, hidden in his pocket, a yarmulka - a traditional Jewish skullcap. What he had in mind was, that at the appropriate moment, he will bless the transaction in Hebrew. And so he did. He signed the agreement and then he took the skullcap out of his pocket and put it on his head and then said the common Hebrew blessing for thanks: Blessed are You, the Lord our God, Who has kept us alive and got us to this time.
And a sweet taste of victory overwhelmed Felix Zandman. A sense of victory without revenge, without anything. Just that a Jew could do it.

In Itzehoe, north Germany, are the Vishay Industries, owned by a Jew, in place of former Nazi Telefunken. And at the entrance to the Vishay building waves, with pride, the blue and white, with the Star of David in its center, flag of the Jewish state of Israel. And six million Holocaust Victims smile from above, cheerfully, at Felix Zandman, as he walks the corridors of his Vishay Industries, in Germany, and his heart jumps for joy with tears in his eyes. A Jew has a factory on German soil and Germans work for Jews, not Jews work for Germans.

Felix Zandman was born on May 7, 1928 and on June 4, 2011 he passed away. However, remember, the angel of death is a nobody. You give a nobody a gun and the strength of a government behind him and he turns to be the angel of death. You take the gun away and the government power and he becomes a nobody again.
Wow, what a story!

Nurit Greenger sees Israel and the United States equally, as the last two forts of true democratic freedom and since 2006, has been writing about events in these two countries. Contact her by writing to nurit.4.nuritg@gmail.com

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