A Tailor in Auschwitz by David van Turnhout, Dirk Verhofstadt
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 realize 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 In the Auschwitz archives, they discover unpublished witness statements by tailors in Block 1.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.
Year first published: 2022