Ask Dr. Brinkman

Happy Birthday

Simone, Diana, and Arie in the Ghetto 1941Today is my mother’s 90th birthday. She passed away last year, 5 days before her 89th. She was an incredible person, always positive and embracing life even though when she was 25 she spent six months in the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau.  She also was an identical twin who survived Dr. Josef Mengele.  

Dr. Mengele was a German SS officer and physician at Auschwitz-Bireknau. He gained notoriety for being one of the SS physicians who supervised the selection of arriving transports of prisoners, determining who was to be killed and who was to become a forced laborer, and for performing human experiments on camp inmates, amongst whom Mengele was know as the Angel of Death. 

Dr. Mengele was always looking for twins on which to perform his horrific experiments. My mother (Simone) and her sister (Diana) would try to keep far apart so they wouldn’t be recognized as twins. One day as Mengele was gathering subjects one of the prisoners came up to him and said, “Dr. Mengele, I have another set of twins for you.” And pointed out my mother and sister as way of gaining favors from the Nazis. Simone and Diana were brought to the back of a parked army truck to be loaded in the back. The guards who brought them there left. Then all of a sudden the truck just drove away leaving Simone and Diana standing there. Needless to say they didn’t stand there very long.

For the rest of her life my mother kept the book “Mengele” on her bookshelf. If she ever felt bad about anything, sorry for her self, or upset she would simply pull the book off the shelf, read a paragraph or two and then the present circumstances didn’t seem so bad. 

Thanks Mom. You are an inspiration. Happy Birthday.

PICTURE: 1941 Lodz Ghetto, Poland, from Left to Right; Simone, Arie (currently Distinguished University Professor Department of Psychology, University of Maryland, College Park) Diana

5 Responses to “Happy Birthday”

  1. Charles B. Rosen Says:

    Thank youfor this important message. We who are of a certain age grew up with the Holocaust as a very real and formative part of our lives. Survivors such as your mother and aunt made us what we are and are and their stories must be retold and, more importantly, made relevant to the times.

    Your message of conscious communication was never more important than it is today. Whether in business or everyday commerce, our actions speak loudly of who we are and for what we will never forget. Vehigadeta Lebincha…

  2. gary C Smith Says:

    Good Morning Rick,
    I had the pleasure of meeting and working with your mother at the Sage Experience in sept 1981. An elegant lady, the elder in the room, with a beauty and presence that made everyone comfortablte and added a magical sense of real ‘mom in the room.’ We worked dyads in the ‘what do you want process. I remember her focus, humor and humility and a great hug. She was a bridge for the group, the survior who thrived. Thank you for encouraging her to attend, my expereience benefited from Simone.
    Mothers never leave us.
    Gary C

  3. Sharon Gollert Says:

    Oh My. Thank you for sharing this story that is profoundly personal for you. In doing so you reminded me again about what is really important and that is always good.

    I also fully enjoy the excellent quality of your newsletters and postings. You were great in your presentation in Toronto last year.
    Best to you,

    Sharon Gollert

  4. Kathe Monroe Says:

    Dr. Brinkman,
    What a wonderful testament to your mother, that you not only share her story but you reflect and live by the values and lessons she passed on to you and I am sure, others. Incredible – the mere timing of a truck driving off, would save Simone and Diana. Did they both survive?

    I appreciate your reminder about the times: I see that here in our work. We also know that until something is known , to speculate and “act” on the unknown, can reduce morale unnecessarily. We must all pull together and find the opportunities in these trying times – an opportunity to work differently perhaps, but an opportunity to be creative, and innovative as well. Attitude is everything, you are right!
    Again, thank you for sharing your story. It warmed my heart.

  5. Earl Says:

    Dr. Brinkman,

    I met you at the court reporters convention in Palm Desert. I wondered if you were Jewish. It seems to me that a Jew always recognizes other Jews.

    My yiddish Momma used to say, “Tracht gutt, vet zein gutt–“Think good, and it will be good.”

    Thank you for sharing your story.

    All the best, Earl

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