DMARC Remembers David Wolnerman

DMARC is greatly saddened to hear of the death of David Wolnerman, one of the last known Iowans who survived the Nazi concentration camps during the holocaust. During his years in the Des Moines Metro area, Mr. Wolnerman shared his story far and wide for the sake of educating and empowering Iowans to stand up against antisemitism. He was committed to efforts to build relationships across religious diversity, giving of his time and presence. When the Comparison Project at Drake University published A Spectrum of Faith: Religions of the World in America’s Heartland, he was pictured in prayer at Beth El Jacob Synagogue (photo above). Mr. Wolnerman passed away at his home on Monday at the age of 96. His presence was felt and his memory will be a blessing to all in this community.

“As an interfaith organization we cannot emphasize enough the lasting legacy that David leaves on our broader community,” said DMARC CEO Matt Unger. “In sharing his story, David ignited future generations to learn and invest in building relationships with others outside their circle. David invited all to celebrate the community found in his Jewish faith and remember the lives of those who were lost in the holocaust.”

These words from his obituary were most fitting: What is most remarkable about David’s life is how he walked away from the war, not a broken man, but as someone who saw opportunity. He looked for it everywhere.

Read David’s full obituary here

You can listen to Mr. Wolnerman and other Iowan’s who survived the holocaust through the Oral History Collection and Preservation efforts by the Iowa Jewish Historical Society.

David reads from a prayer book in the sanctuary of Beth El Jacob Synagogue. Photo courtesy of Bob Blanchard Photography and “A Spectrum of Faith: Religions of the World in America’s Heartland”


Correction: a previous version of this article stated incorrectly that Mr. Wolnerman was the last known Iowan to have survived the holocaust. Mr. Wolnerman is the last known survivor in Des Moines area. Dr. Harold Kasimow is a resident of Grinnell and is the George A. Drake Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at Grinnell College.

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