Dunkelman, Benjamin

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DUNKELMAN, BENJAMIN (1913–1997), Canadian manufacturer and volunteer soldier in World War ii and Israel's War of Independence. Dunkelman was born in Toronto. His father, David, was a wealthy Toronto clothing manufacturer and retailer and his mother, Rose Miller (see *Dunkelman, Rose), was a leading figure in Canadian Hadassah. After finishing at Toronto's elite Upper Canada College, he visited Palestine in 1932 as a teenager and worked for several months at Tel Asher, with the intention of joining a kibbutz. He returned again in 1935 hoping to stay on and establish a new settlement but returned to Canada and in 1939 – believing that he had a personal score to settle with the Nazis – tried to join the Royal Canadian Navy. Rejected, he enlisted in the Canadian Army and served in combat with great distinction, earning the prestigious Distinguished Service Order as a company commander in the Queen's Own Rifles for, among other achievements, leading his men under fire through the heavily mined Hochwald forest. He was recognized as an expert in mortars. Arriving back in Palestine in April 1948, Dunkelman joined Haganah forces battling on the roads to keep Jerusalem supplied and commanded one of the units in the fight for control of Galilee. Troops under his command captured Nazareth. He also organized and trained a heavy mortar support brigade. He returned to Canada after Israel's War of Independence and took over the family clothing manufacturing business. In Toronto he was active also in many Jewish and non-Jewish organizations and later wrote a revealing autobiography, Dual Allegiance: An Autobiography (1976), which reflects the tension he felt between his commitment both to Israel and Canada.

[Gerald Tulchinsky (2nd ed.)]