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Guido Felix Brinkmann

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My Statement to the Court II

Angela Murray, the second defendant in my father's murder pleaded guilty to Murder 2. She can't be convicted on Murder 1 since the other guy was already found guilty of that. My understanding is Murder 1 is "intent to kill" while Murder 2 is an event that happens within another crime but the defendant may not have been the one to actually do the killing. However, she is the one who had the relationship with my father and betrayed him.

Tomorrow she will be sentenced to 16 years to life. That means she is eligible for parole after 16 years, but there are no guarantees she may ever get out.

Here is my statement to the court that will be played tomorrow at her sentencing. You get to see it today.

(For details Google "Guido Felix Brinkmann")

Synchronistically I am in NYC and will be only a few blocks away performing a seminar so I made this 3 minute video: This video is in FLASH. For an iOS compatible version here.

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My Statement to Court Upon Sentencing of the First of My Father's Killers

Many people have asked me what happened in the trial of my father's (Guido Felix Brinkmann) killers. There were three people involved, each of whom will be tried separately. The first person and the one who most likely did the actual killing was found guilty three weeks ago on all counts of 1st degree murder. New York State does not have a death penalty. 25 minimum years to life without parole is the consequence.

The judge chose to give 25 years with the recommendation to the parole board that the prisoner serve 45 years before considering parole. That would make him a 75 year old man at the time.

(For those of you who may not know, just put "Guido Felix Brinkmann" into Google.)

I didn't realize it is the custom to let the victim's family speak at the sentencing. I asked the DA if there was a specific protocol or purpose, i.e. to influence sentencing, revenge, express grief, etc. She said it can be anything. Even just talking about who this person was.

Although I couldn't be in NYC that particular day, I made a short 7 minute video that was played at the trial that I thought I would share with you.

Note I was planning to change out of my Rangers shirt and into a suit. In the video I was only doing a sound and lighting check. However what spontaneously came out was the statement and to do it again would have felt "scripted".  The New York newspapers did take note of the Ranger shirt. (Go Rangers!)

The one thing I didn't say that I wanted to was this: A couple of months after the war had ended my father was heading back to Poland to see if my mother was alive.  He was crossing a bridge guarded by a Russian soldier. My father spoke fluent Russian and explained he had spent the last 9 months in three concentration camps.  He didn't know if any of his family or his wife was alive. Then another person, a German, attempted to cross the bridge. The Russian ripped open the German's coat to reveal the SS tattoo marking him as an SS officer. The Russian handed my father the machine gun and said, "Kill him for your family." My father handed the machine gun back and said, "No I can't do that."  That was the kind of person he was and the compassion he had. (The Russian killed the SS officer.)

7 minutes 49 seconds

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For stories on my father and my mother's miraculous stories of survival, see the Concentration Camp category or just click here:

http://rickbrinkman.com/blog/category/concentration-camp-survival/

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A Stone's Throw

Auschwitz Train Entrance

In August of 1944 the Lodz ghetto of Poland was liquidated. That meant all the Jews were sent to Auschwitz. But the Germans kept my father and the people in his factory together. The officer in charge told my father his group was ultimately going to be sent to a Siemens factory in Germany. Apparently my father had created such an efficient team that the Germans wanted to keep them intact.

When they arrived at Auschwitz my father's group was not processed like most prisoners meaning; children and any one frail right to gas chambers, the others shaved, tattooed. etc.  They kept my father's group sitting on grassy hill. The other prisoners who worked for the Germans were stunned. They had never seen something like this before.

A German officer finally came with soldiers who carried a bunch of stuff. The German officer would hold up an item and ask if my father's group could make such a thing.  Eventually the men and women were separated into their individual camps, however for the next 5 days they all remained unassigned in Auschwitz.

At one point my father was standing next to the barbed wire and saw my mother across the way in the women's camp. The distance between them was the width of a typical residential street including the side walks. There was a high fence of  barbed wire on each side. At this point they still had some paper and they would write notes to each other, wrap the note in a rock and throw it across. My mother didn't have much of an arm, and her notes would land in no man's land. My father's notes did reach my mother.

Each day they would meet at a certain time at the barbed wire. But then one day as my father thew a note he was caught by a German guard. "What are you doing?" he barked. My father explained in German he was thowing a note to his wife. My father thought he was dead for sure.  But the guard merely said, "Away from the wire" and moved on.

The next day the Siemen's transfer was cancelled and they were processed into Auschwitz. That was the last time my mother and father would see each other, until a year and half later, after the war was long over.

My mother said she never forgot the last note. She translated it as saying, "My sweet, don't worry, we will be together again and I will kiss you and hold you in my arms."

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A Token of Love

Lighter given to Felix by Simone, 11/2/43 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!"

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Who's Crazy?

Felix, age approx. 21 My father, Guido Felix Brinkmann, was a German from Latvia who ended up in Poland on a program that moved German people into occupied territories. When it was time to join the military he innocently and honestly wrote on his application that his mother was Jewish but converted to Lutheran before he was born. That brought the proverbial "knock on the door" by the Gestapo and he was thrown into the Lodz Ghetto.

Once there he sat on a bench all day waiting to be processed. No one knew what to do with him because to the Jews he was obviously a German (and probably a spy) and to the Germans he was obviously Jewish. Finally at nightfall he was sent to an insane asylum because those people were too crazy to care whether someone was Jewish or German.

Can you imagine that? Too crazy to be bigoted.

What crazy people.

PS: "In an insane world, the sane would naturally appear insane." Mr. Spock to Captain Kirk

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Assholes & Angels

If we divide people into two categories, Assholes & Angels, I would say the person(s) who would take advantage of, beat and strangle a 90 year old man (my father) is in the serious "Asshole" category. But for every one of them, I believe there are a lot more Angels. And  you never know when and where you will meet one. In an earlier post I told you about the death march my mother was forced to endure in January of 1945. The German army was retreating west in fear of the advancing Russians. My mother Simone was part of 1000 girls whose job was to dig ditches in the road to slow down the Russian tanks. She subsequently escaped (see Simone's Escape and Escape of Diana). However, that almost never happened because a few days earlier my mother couldn't take it anymore.  She gave up hope and asked a guard to kill her.

Here is what happened in her own words:  Simone Brinkman speaks (1:35)

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Priorities in Black & White part 2

I spent the summer of 2008 in NYC taking care of my elderly father. (See “Priorities in Black and White”). Then I brought him to my home in Portland, Oregon for a couple of weeks of intensive naturopathic therapies. When I dropped my father off in NYC in mid September and flew off to the UK for seminars, it was to be the first time in two and a half months that he didn't have someone with him at all times. Here is what happened. He not only survives but he thrives. He has more energy and memory than before he was hospitalized. He is back at work managing a commercial office building for his former partner in the disco nightclub business, not because he has to work, but because it gives him pleasure. He drives to work each day from Manhattan to the Bronx.

Three months after leaving him, I returned with my family to celebrate his 90th birthday. We had a party for him at O’Flanagans bar in NYC where the idea for Adams Apple (the disco he opened in 1971) was born. And being the kind of guy he is, he flirted with the girls at the bar and danced the night away.

My father Felix Brinkmann is a survivor. During World War II he was in three concentration camps. When my family and I visited Auschwitz we saw samples of well-organized handwritten spreadsheets created by the Nazis that showed the profit to the Reich from the slave work of a prisoner. If not purposely killed early, an initially healthy prisoner would be worked to death by the sixth month. My father survived in the camps for a full year.

His father was an electrical engineer so my father, Felix, was very familiar and comfortable with all things electric. In that era, it would be the geeky equivalent of a computer programmer today. He also had a natural ability to fix things, even things he never saw before. It was those skills, his ability to work, and his never give up attitude that allowed him to survive.

When he was in the Lodz ghetto (before being shipped out to the camps) he was in charge of a telephone repair factory. A German officer hearing about his ability to fix things brought him a record player and asked if my father could make it work. Felix said of course (even though he had never seen the inside of one before). He asked the German officer to leave it and a few records for a couple of days. Felix “the electrician” 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.” And the rest is history.

He spent the next year in the concentration camps; six months in Auschwitz (Poland), two weeks in Mauthausen (Austria), and five months in Ebensee (Austria). While in Auschwitz he was picked for the gas chamber five times and five times got out of it because he could speak perfect German and explain his value as an electrician. This summer and fall when we would discuss his life threatening illness, his response was to show me the numbers on his arm and say, "Big deal. I'm a survivor."

In dealing with my father’s illness I am amazed that we have a medical system that can prevent people from dying from a life threatening disease, but then release them with no care whatsoever to actually help them recover. Out of the ten medications he was prescribed, none of them produce healing. They all just force a certain physiologic response. It would be difficult for a young person to recover from the liver issue my father had, but for an older person, it’s nearly impossible. That's where naturopathic medicine comes in. I brought my father back to Portland for two weeks of intensive naturopathic therapies, which included I.V. vitamins, B12 shots and a supplement regime to support the liver and other vital organs. For the entire month of August following his release from the hospital he didn’t even remember being hospitalized for the month of July. After one week of naturopathic treatment he could remember the day and time we were flying back to NY. Before the illness I could barely get him to walk a block. Now he not only walks six blocks, but he does it with intention like any self-respecting New Yorker.

Although my naturopathic medical course took me into the mind/emotions, relationships and it’s affect on your well-being, this experience re-energized me in terms of what is possible physically.

I want to share the benefit of that with you, so in the coming months I will be interviewing some exceptional holistic healers and posting those interviews. Many of these will be audio downloads, while some will be articles by guest authors within the Conscious Communicator e-article series. Here’s to your health and I’m here to support you.

Dr. Rick Brinkman

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PICTURED ABOVE: From Top to Bottom:

Felix Brinkmann 1939, age 21,

Felix and Simone 1946,

Felix Brinkmann's concentration camp tatoo 2008,

Felix Brinkman at his 90th birthday part November 20, 2008.

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