My father being the dedicated worker and leader that he naturally was rose quickly to run a telephone repair factory in the ghetto. As mentioned in an earlier post (The Radio) he understood electricity and had a knack for fixing things. The German officer in charge of the whole ghetto, hearing about his ability to fix things brought my father to his office. The officer had a record player, a very advanced design for the time, that wasn't working correctly and asked if my father could fix it. Felix said of course (even though he had never seen the inside of one before) and said he needed to take it back to his workshop with a few records for a couple of days.
Felix fixed it in a matter of minutes and as a treat to his employees he brought all the workers at the factory together to hear the music. People didn’t have such things in the ghetto and hadn’t heard music for years. Most of the employees were young women and some of them insisted, “Herr Brinkmann you must dance.” My father chose my mother. A day later he made her his secretary, even though she couldn’t type, but as my dad said, “She sure could kiss.”
They eventually got married against the ghetto's Jewish authorities wishes. The head man said, "I'm not giving a nice Jewish girl to that German!" So they made their own ceremony.
Pictured above is a cigarette lighter that my mother gave my father for his birthday in November of 1943. My Polish is not that good, but as I recall my mother translated the engraving as something like: "My sweet smoochie poochie, Felix on your birthday. Lodz ghetto 11-20-43."
How did this token of love survive? In August of 1944 the Lodz ghetto was liquidated and the inhabitants sent to Auschwitz, My mother's older sister Ola and her husband Kit were part of a small group that was left behind to "clean the ghetto". They found the lighter when they were in Simone & Felix's apartment. The lighter spent time in Poland, Israel, Canada and ultimately came back to my mother just 10 years ago. She gave it to me during one of her frequent visits to Portland.
The next time my father visited I showed him the lighter and true to style his first response was: "So you're the little '$#*%" who stole my lighter!"