Advocates and Allies: Mister Frits
The Fellowship | August 31, 2016
Frederick “Frits” Philips
Life: April 16, 1905 – December 5, 2005
Why you should know him: Frits Philips was the beloved head of his family’s Dutch electronics company who saved nearly 400 Jews from the Nazis.
Born in Eindhoven, Netherlands, Frits Philips was the son and nephew of the brothers who founded the Dutch electronics company Philips. A devout Christian, Frits studied mechanical engineering before being appointed vice-director and board member of his family’s business, where he was very popular with everyone, showing kindness and compassion to all, from the factory workers to the other directors. Because of this, he was known around Eindhoven as “Meneer Frits,” or “Mister Frits.”
Mister Frits’ compassion and care came to the fore when the Nazis overtook the Netherlands. While many of Frits’ family members fled their native land, he stayed behind out of loyalty to the company and its employees. Especially threatened were Philips’ Jewish workers. For several months in 1943, Frits was a prisoner of a Nazi concentration camp. But this didn’t stop him from doing what was right. Much like noted Advocate and Ally Oskar Schindler, Frits Philips convinced the Nazis that his 382 Jewish employees were indispensable to the company’s production process. Because of this, these precious lives were saved. And because of his actions, Frits Philips was named Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem in 1996.
Frits passed away in 2005 at the age of 100, outliving his wife of 63 years and remembered fondly by their seven children and the generations of Jewish people whose descendants were saved by this kind man’s actions.