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A Tailor in Auschwitz (Hardback)

WWII P&S History Hitler & the Third Reich Clothing and Fashion

By David Van Turnhout, Dirk Verhofstadt
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 224
Illustrations: 32 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781399004367
Published: 30th June 2022


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David Van Turnhout and Dirk Verhofstadt traced the story of David's Jewish grandfather, Ide Leib Kartuz. Fleeing from antisemitism and violence, he came to Antwerp in 1929 and set up business as a tailor. The family he left behind ended up in the ghetto of Radomsko. Each and every member of the family was gassed at Treblinka. In Belgium, Kartuz joined the resistance movement, but was arrested by the Nazis in 1942 and deported to Auschwitz. On arrival there, his wife and two children immediately died a horrible death.

He survived in a unit of tailors where he repaired camp clothing and SS guards' uniforms, sometimes receiving special orders from SS officers. Kartuz endured an inhuman death march to Mauthausen. After the war, back in Antwerp, he made tailored suits for bankers and other business people. His final battle was against the Belgian state, for recognition as a Belgian citizen, member of the resistance and war victim. Very few people realise how difficult it was for Jewish people to survive after liberation.

The authors dig deep into the core of the Holocaust and investigate every trail from Radomsko to Miami. In the Auschwitz archives, they discover unpublished witness statements by tailors in Block 1. And completely unexpectedly, they also discover a cousin of Ide's, living in Florida. She had survived as a child by hiding in an attic in Brussels and speaks for the first time about those dark days. It took the authors a year to wind their questing way through important discoveries and setbacks but in this tribute, an unknown piece of history has finally been given a face.

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About David Van Turnhout

David Van Turnhout is Ide Leib Kartuz ’s grandson, the main character in this book. When he met Dirk Verhofstadt, Dirk persuaded him to write about his grandfather who was a survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp. The two gentlemen decided to write the book together and travelled around the world to find out more about Ide Leib Kartuz’ story. Their work resulted in this book, that came out in Belgium in 2019. Today David is still writing political opinions and works as a freelance communication specialist. 

About Dirk Verhofstadt

Dirk Verhofstadt is a professor at Ghent University (Belgium). He is the author of about twenty books on politics, political philosophy and history. He wrote about the history of liberalism, the year 1914 as the start of the First World War, and the dubious role of Pius XII during the Second World War. His research focuses mainly on the history of the Holocaust and the danger of the extreme right.

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