Meet the Famed Holocaust-Surviving Tailor Who Snuck Advice to Eisenhower in His Suits

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President Ike Eisenhower
President Ike Eisenhower

This article was originally posted in Vanity Fair.
In 1956, Martin Greenfield was a twentysomething Czech immigrant working as a tailor at the well-regarded Brooklyn suit maker GGG Clothes. Greenfield had gotten in the door, in 1947, with the help of a fellow immigrant friend and eventually worked his way from the lowly post of “floor boy” to trusted confidante of owner William P. Goldman, who took a shine to his competitive spirit.

GGG was a favorite label of Dwight D. Eisenhower, and the young tailor couldn’t help himself from passing advice on foreign policy to the Oval Office via the pockets of the president’s new suits. If Eisenhower wanted to end the Suez Canal crisis, Greenfield suggested in a note, why not give Secretary of State John Dulles a two-week vacation? Eisenhower eventually shared his tailor’s hubris with the D.C. press corps for a few laughs.

The anecdote is one of many in Greenfield’s new memoir that demonstrates the extraordinary experience he had with capital-H history in the back half of the 20th century. Not for nothing did the tale become so entrenched in Washington lore that Bill Clinton knew it when Greenfield first measured the new president after his 1992 election.

“He says, ‘Don’t send me notes; you can fax them,’” Greenfield recalled last week with a laugh. “Things like that don’t happen to every refugee that comes here. . . . But that happened to me, maybe to get paid back for the past.”

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