A 90-year-old Holocaust survivor was found strangled Thursday in his Upper East Side apartment, a spokeswoman for the New York City medical examiner said Friday.
Felix Brinkmann, a native of Latvia, escaped death for a year while he was in the Nazis’ Mauthausen, Ebensee and Auschwitz concentration camps. Five times he had been slated for the gas chambers, but each time he used his fluency in German to talk his way out. After the war ended, he was stunned to discover that his wife, who had also been shipped to Auschwitz, was alive and well in Poland. The Brinkmanns immigrated to America, where Felix spent years in the bar and nightclub business, co-founding in 1971 Adam’s Apple disco in Manhattan. In recent years, he had served as the real estate manager of a mixed-use building in the Bronx, working “seven days a week, without fail,” said his son Rick Brinkman, who spells his last name differently than his father. On Thursday, the building’s superintendent grew concerned when Brinkmann did not show up to work. He notified Brinkmann’s son and received permission to enter the father’s apartment, where he had lived alone since his wife died last year. Brinkmann’s body was found lying face down in his bedroom, his hands bound, his body showing blunt-force trauma wounds, police said. Brinkmann’s blue 2009 Honda Civic may have been stolen and a safe in his apartment tampered with, police said. A police spokesman said authorities were looking for “a man and a woman” in connection with the homicide. Rick Brinkman speculated that the killing was random in nature. “Anybody who knew him really liked him,” the son said. “He was not the kind of guy who had enemies.”