Martin Greenfeld became a tailor at the age of 15, but it wasn’t as an apprentice, but it was in Auschwitz. He told ABC News, “I had never sewn, I had never washed. A tailor (in Auschwitz) said ‘you’re a tailor.”
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He was forced to sew, mend and wash the uniforms of Nazi guards. When the death camp was liberated, he saw General Dwight Eisenhower, and thought he looked like a giant. It was only after emigrating to America, and training as a tailor in Brooklyn, before he met Eisenhower again, this time as President of the United States.
This began his decades long role as the tailor of presidents from Ike to the present day. He used to leave notes in Eisenhower’s suits with advice on how to handle the Suez Canal crisis, and kept leaving notes for other presidents, until Bill Clinton told him it wasn’t necessary, he could just use a fax.
Greenfeld’s suits have not just clothed presidents, but have made their way into films, such as “The Wolf of Wall Street, ” and HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire.” He was Paul Newman’s personal tailor. “Paul Newman was not a customer. Paul Newman was a friend.” He recounts his story in a book, “The Measure of Man.”
Greenfeld’s secret to making the highest quality suits is that he makes them by hand with the help of 120 workers. More importantly, his father who perished in the camps, gave him the secret of survival, “His last words were, ‘you extend your life by living not by crying.’ That’s what I do every minute of the day.”