Benjamin Dunkelman (1913-1997) was a successful businessman and President of Tip Top Tailors. He had a distinguished military career in both the Canadian army during the Second World War and in the Haganah during the 1948-1949 Arab-Israeli War.
Dunkelman was born in Toronto to David Dunkelman (1883-1978) and Rose (nee Miller) (1889-1949). He had three sisters and two brothers: Joseph, a movie executive; Ernest, a manufacturer; Zelda; Veronica; and Theodora. His father, David, was a successful entrepreneur who established Tip Top Tailors in 1910. Both David and his wife Rose were fervent Zionist community activists.
Benjamin Dunkelman attended Upper Canada College and, at the age of 18, visited Palestine (now Israel). While in Palestine, he worked for a year on a kibbutz, mostly as a guard protecting it from nearby Palestinians. During the Second World War, Dunkelman served as a Major in the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada and in that role gained respect for his knowledge of mortars. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) in 1945 for his role in the final Allied assault on Germany. Two years later, Benjamin Dunkelman returned to Palestine to join the Haganah in the 1948-1949 Arab-Israeli War. As a commander, Dunkelman captured Nazareth, and brought northern Galilee under Jewish control. Near the end of the war, Dunkelman met and married Yael Lifshitz, a corporal in the Israeli Army. Dunkelman was elected National Commander of the Jewish War Veterans of Canada in 1977.
In addition to his work as a soldier, Dunkelman was a successful businessman. He served as president of Tip Top Tailors after his father stepped down, and was also director of Colonial Finance Corporation, president of Cloverdale Shopping Centre and president of Renforth Developments. Besides operating the Dunkelman Gallery for modern art, Dunkelman and his wife Yael ran the Constellation Hotel and Dunkelman’s Restaurant.
Dunkelman later wrote of his experiences in both wars in his autobiography Dual allegiance (MacMillan, 1976). As well as the DSO, Dunkelman was awarded the Fighter’s Decoration of the State of Israel (1970), and an Israel Bonds Award Dinner in Tribute to Ben Dunkelman (1977). He was a guest of honour both at a reception hosted by the Canadian Society for the Weizmann Institute of Science and the veterans of the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada (1976) and at a 7th Brigade Reunion in Israel (1991).
Scope and Content
Fonds consists of records documenting Benjamin Dunkelman's personal, business, and military activities. Included is personal and business correspondence and other records, maps, photographs, news clippings, and scrapbooks assembled by Dunkelman. The bulk of the records relate both to Dunkelman’s autobiography Dual allegiance and to his military career in the Second World War and in the Arab-Israeli War of 1948-1949. Other records relate to his business work with Tip Top Tailors, the Constellation Hotel, Dunkelman’s Restaurant and the Dunkelman Gallery, as well as to his Zionist actvities, his writing and public speeches, and his personal life.
The fonds is organized into the following series: Personal records and correspondence, Zionist materials, Businesses, Second World War, Arab-Israeli War, Dual allegiance, and Speeches.
Physical description note: Includes 218 photographs, 60 maps, 7 postcards, 5 architectural drawings, and 3 albums.
Associated material note: see the Ben Dunkelman fonds at Library and Archives Canada.
Series consists of records documenting Ben Dunkelman’s family/private life and such hobbies as yachting and travel. Included are photographs, correspondence, newspaper clippings, invitations, certificates, speeches, a travel diary, a passport, and a scrapbook. The series is made up of two sub-series: 1. David and Rose Dunkelman (including biographies of those in the Dunkelman family) and 2. Theodora Dunkelman (Ben Dunkelman’s sister).
Dunkelman, like his parents, was an active Zionist throughout his life. As a young man from 1930-1931, he lived in Israel and later fought in the Arab-Israeli War. Following the war in 1948-49, he wrote articles, kept correspondence, encouraged investment, and gave speeches in support of Israel. He was also on the executive committee of Israel Speaks, an American publication, and was a member of the Zionist Organization of Canada (ZOC). In 1976, Dunkelman agreed to be the deputy president of the ZOC’s Charitable Fund.
Scope and Content
The series consists of records documenting Ben Dunkelman's Zionist activities. Included are legal papers, photographs, correspondence, articles and newspaper clippings.
Herb Mowat was a Canadian Zionist who maintained a correspondence with Dunkelman during the 1950s and 1960s. Dunkelman acquired some of his records.
During the Second World War, Dunkelman served as a major in the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada. After enlisting in 1940, he became a platoon commander. Dunkelman took part in the second wave of D-Day landings in 1944 and later assisted in the final Allied assault on Germany, earning the Distinguished Service Order. He left the army in 1945 after the war had ended. The Queen's Own Rifles Association and the Canadian Society for the Weizmann Institute of Science organized a reception in 1976 to honour the publication of Dunkelman's autobiography, Dual Allegiance.
Scope and Content
Series consists of records documenting Ben Dunkelman's involvement in the Second World War. Included are newspaper clippings, maps, photographs, and correspondence. Some files deal with Dunkelman's experiences during the war; others relate to Dunkelman's relationship with veterans after the war and, in one case, with his memories of the war. The files cover such subjects as The Queen's Own Rifles, Veterans, the liberation of The Netherlands, Aubrey Cosens (a soldier under Dunkelman’s command who was killed in battle but later honoured with the Victoria Cross), and the prosecution of Nazi war criminals.
Physical description: Includes 85 photographs, 1 album, and 10 maps.
Cosens, Aubrey, 1921-1945 (subject)
World War, 1939-1945
See fonds 2, series 6 for more information on Dunkelman's involvement in the Second World War.
Dunkelman joined the Machal (foreign fighters for Israel) (Hebrew: " ) in 1948 at the onset of the First Arab-Israeli War and was active in helping the fledgling Israeli Army break out of Jerusalem and find a road to Tel Aviv. The Burma Road—named after a Second World War Burma supply route—was a makeshift route from Jerusalem to Tel-Aviv. Israeli soldiers, including Dunkelman, drove a convoy at night along a little-used route to reconnect the two cities. Later in the war, commanding the 7th Brigade, he captured Nazareth and northern Galilee. After Dunkelman had left the Israel Defense Forces in 1949 to seek work as a businessman, he kept in contact with the armed forces of Israel through such organizations as the Jewish War Veterans of Canada, the 7th Brigade Veterans Fund, American Veterans of Israel, the Association of Jewish War Veterans, and the Mahal Association.
Scope and Content
Series consists of reports, clippings, correspondence, photographs, and maps and documents recording Ben Dunkelman's involvement in the First Arab-Israeli War. The series branches into the following topics in this order: Machal; the 7th Brigade; Operation Hiram; Operation Dekel; the Burma Road; the Israel Defence Forces; a Profile of Ben Dunkelman; and Arab-Israeli War veterans.
Israel-Arab War, 1948-1949
Some records are fragile.
See fonds 2, series 6 for more information on the war. Dunkelman wrote an autobiography, Dual Allegiance, based on his experiences in the First Arab-Israeli War and the Second World War.
Rose and David Dunkelman, Benjamin Dunkelman's parents, were staunch supporters of Toronto's Zionist community. David was a leader of the Zionist Organization of Canada for more than 50 years, while Rose was publisher and first managing editor of the Jewish Standard, a Toronto-based Zionist magazine she founded with her husband. In addition, she was the first vice-president of the Hadassah Organization of Canada and president of the Hadassah Organization of Ontario. Both fervently supported Zionist projects.
Scope and Content
Sub-series consists of photographs, clippings, obituaries, correspondence and biographical information in connection with Rose, David and Ben Dunkelman. The sub-series contains a pamphlet from the Toronto Zionist Council in 1957 celebrating the council’s 50th anniversary and praising Rose Dunkelman. There are also copies of articles about Rose Dunkelman by H.M. Kaiserman and Meyer W. Weisgal.
Dunkelman maintained private correspondence with a wide variety of friends, from well-known people such as composer Leonard Bernstein, former Israeli defence minister Shimon Peres and former Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin to his father David, the lawyer Carl Goldenberg and his father-in-law, David Lifshitz. One correspondence is with Fred Johnson, an acquaintance from the end of the Arab-Israeli War. Fred Johnson helped Ben and Yael establish themselves in Israel in the years following the war. Johnson wrote to Dunkelman in 1975 and they resumed correspondence.
Scope and Content
Sub-series contains 12 files of personal correspondence between Benjamin (and sometimes Yael) Dunkelman and family, friends and acquaintances on such subjects as Ben and Yael's marriage, buying a new apartment, condolences for the death of a friend's mother, Yitzhak Rabin's assassination and a retirement application.
The file emphasizes the importance of the Dunkelman family to Ontario's Jewish community. Ben was a distinguished soldier, a successful businessman and a Zionist; David was founder of Tip Top Tailors and a Zionist leader; and Rose was a Zionist leader, publisher of the Jewish Standard and heavily involved in Hadassah and Youth Aliyah.
Scope and Content
File contains biographical information about Benjamin Dunkelman, including entries for himself and his parents Rose and David Dunkelman in the New Encyclopedia of Zionism and Israel, edited by Geoffrey Wigoder.
Benjamin Dunkelman kept records of his contact both with the National Archives of Canada and with the Military (I.D.F) & Defence Establishment Archives in Israel. His correspondence relates to research for his autobiography Dual Allegiance, as well as to his decision to donate records to both Archives.
Scope and Content
Sub-Series consists of correspondence with and papers from the National Archives of Canada and the Military (I.D.F.) & Defence Establishment Archives. The National Archives material includes a statement giving Dunkelman permission to reproduce and publish Department of National Defence army negatives, along with inventories of records Dunkelman had donated to the Archives. The National Archives of Canada papers also include correspondence between Dunkelman and National Archives archivist Lawrence Tapper. In addition, the sub-series contains a contract between the National Archives and Dunkelman about a collection of his papers that he donated to the Archives. The Sub-Series includes correspondence and a depositor’s agreement with Israel's Military (I.D.F.) & Defence Establishment Archives.
Ben Dunkelman published his memoirs with MacMillan of Canada in 1976 under the title Dual Allegiance. Although nearly thirty years had passed since his involvement in the Second World War and the First Arab-Israeli War, Dunkelman began researching his memoirs in the 1950s and an early version of the book, Israel Assignment, was finished in 1959. After further research, writing and correspondence with publishers, Dunkelman finally secured publication of the manuscript with MacMillan of Canada under the title Dual Allegiance, which was published in 1976. The response to Dual Allegiance after its publication in November came quickly. MacMillan collected many of the newspaper reviews and sent them to Dunkelman. Ben Dunkelman also wrote several different screenplays based on his autobiography. These range from plot summaries to a full-length screenplay submitted to Charles Greene which includes directions for camera shots.
Scope and Content
Series consists of correspondence, research notes, novel notes, manuscripts, reviews, film/TV scripts, clippings and publicity material related to Ben Dunkelman’s autobiography, Dual Allegiance, which was published by MacMillan in 1976. The series contains drafts of Israel Assignment. It also contains some correspondence, both between Dunkelman and MacMillan about the book, and from readers commenting on it. The series is organized into several general areas in the following order: research, manuscripts, publicity, correspondence and Film/TV scripts.
Physical description note: Includes 30 maps, 4 photographs, and 2 albums.
File contains three items: one nine-page report containing information about the upcoming Operation Dekel, such as the number of enemy forces and organization plans; one letter to Dunkelman from Uri Givon, a researcher studying the 7th Brigade and Operation Dekel; and three pages of notes Dunkelman made in response to this letter.
File consists chiefly of correspondence and notes relating to a 1973 Seventh Brigade reunion in Israel which Ben Dunkelman attended. The correspondence includes letters from Golda Meir, the Israeli Prime Minister, as well as from Yossie Mann, who invited Dunkelman to the reunion. Also included in the file are single copies of the magazines Haolan Haza (This World), Bamachane G'danya, and Bamachane. The first of these contains an article about Yitzhak Sade, a Palmach commander during the Arab-Israeli War; the second, published by the youth wing of the IDF, contains general army information; and the third, published by the IDF in an independence day edition, includes an article about Shlomo Shamir and the Battle of Latrun during the Arab-Israeli War.
File contains correspondence between Dunkelman and National Archives archivist Lawrence Tapper relating to Dunkelman's papers at the Archives. The file also contains a list of files from the National Archives Dunkelman collection.
File consists of correspondence and clippings related to Dual Allegiance. Much of the correspondence, from people such as Irene Aspin, Thomas Hockin, Gerry Lynch, and Meyer Weisgal, comments on Dunkelman's autobiography.