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Measure of a Man: From Auschwitz Survivor to…

Measure of a Man: From Auschwitz Survivor to Presidents' Tailor

by Martin Greenfield

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Quick, but not at times an easy read. Martin Greenfield's story of surviving Auschwitz is the first 1/3 of the book and is a compelling, difficult and amazing read, that takes you through the the journey of being Jewish in Nazi Germany.

The rest of the book is a breeze by comparison, a little too self-congratulatory, not enough details to make it interesting, a let down compared to how it started. ( )
  bhuesers | Mar 29, 2017 |
√ Auschwitz Prisoner A4406

MEASURE OF A MAN starts off with the author, as a boy, in a German concentration camp. Martin was quickly separated from most of his family--and many he would never see again. Martin was sent to the line on the right, where the prisoners were allowed to live. Those on the left--including many of his family--were killed.

We've heard the Auschwitz story before, but it bears repeating. The young boy was witness to astonishing acts of human cruelty. Martin's father was a wise man who realized that in order for his son to survive, he and his son must be separated.

Like the other prisoners in Auschwitz, Martin was given a tattoo. In his case "A4406." For some reason, the young man was sent to the camp laundry. There, he learned a little bit about sewing and the power of appearance. Martin had torn a Nazi shirt whilst cleaning it, and after being bloodied by the guard, Martin decided to wear the shirt under his prisoner garb. “The day I wore that first shirt was the day I learned clothes possess power. Clothes don't just make the man, they can save the man. They did for me." Ironically, the hellhole of Auschwitz was his training ground--but not his first choice: "Of course, receiving your first tailoring lesson inside a Nazi concentration camp was hardly be ideal apprenticeship. I would have much preferred to learn my craft on Savile Row.“

In January of 1945, the Jewish prisoners were forced to march on the infamous "death march." Only 500 prisoners survived. Martin recalls that he was forced to carry a backpack of one of the German soldiers. He and his friends took some food out of the bag to make it lighter, but they realized that when the soldier returned they would be shot. They looked at the bright side: “At least we won't be hungry when he shoots us." To escape, Martin had his fellow prisoners bury him under some snow.

After the war, young Martin came to America with almost nothing: “When I came to America, the only thing I had was the dirt under my fingernails.“ In America, he was astonished by what he saw, and was very ignorant about the land. Seeing all the people waiting to get into Yankee Stadium, he thought, “Things must be terrible here. I've never seen so many people waiting in a bread line!"

It was in 1947 that the author started work at the famous clothiers, "GGG clothiers," named after 3 Goldman brothers. There, Martin learned the craft of tailoring and running a business. The author recounts the greatest lesson he ever received was from Mr Goldman: “The key to success in business and in life, is to 'produce quality with intrinsic value.' Its a lesson I've never forgotten." In 1977, thirty years after he started working at GGG, Martin bought the entire company.

Martin eventually had the chance to tailor custom suits for presidents--even his hero, President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Martin wanted to offer some suggestions to the president, but he knew that his letters would never reach Ike. So Martin sewed a pocket into Ike's jacket, with a letter for the president inside. Later on, Eisenhower quipped that there was a "Brooklyn Taylor who kept sewing foreign policy advice into his clothes." Time magazine heard the story, and the Brooklyn tailor became famous.

Many years later, when Martin was the tailor to President Clinton, Clinton heard about these letters sewed in the clothing of Ike. Clinton took him aside and said, “Martin, just so you know, if you ever have anything you want to talk about, you won't need to sew letters in my pockets. I will just give you my fax number.

In one touching chapter, we hear that because of his tragic childhood, Martin had not been able to have the traditional Bar Mitzvah of young Jewish boys. So at age 80, Martin finally got his Bar Mitzvah.

√ All in all, MEASURE OF A MAN is a solid, inspiring story. Starting with the most horrific experience one can imagine, the author worked hard, whilst overcame hardship few of us will ever face. The boy who learned to sew in Auschwitz ended up being the tailor to some of the most important men in the world.

♫ A Review by Chris Lawson

Note: I do not know the author of this book, and no one requested I write a positive review. Review copy courtesy of Edelweiss. ( )
  bassocantor | Dec 11, 2014 |
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"He's been called 'America's greatest living tailor' and 'the most interesting man in the world.' Now, for the first time, Holocaust survivor Martin Greenfield tells his incredible life story. Taken from his Czechoslovakian home at age fifteen and transported to the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz with his family, Greenfield came face to face with 'Angel of Death' Dr. Joseph Mengele and was divided forever from his [family] ... He learned how to sew; and when he began wearing the shirt under his prisoner uniform, he learned that clothes possess great power and could even help save his life [and led ultimately to his] founding America's premier custom suit company"--… (more)

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