The Thaler Holocaust Memorial Fund (THMF) was established in 1995 by Dr. David and Joan Thaler to provide support for education about the Holocaust to residents and students at the local colleges in Linn County, Iowa. THMF provides funding for academic courses about the Holocaust, public speakers and other educational programs.
The History of the Thaler Fund:
“Indifference, to me, is the epitome of evil.”
While taking college courses after retirement from his medical career, Dr. David Thaler was struck by the lack of awareness about the Holocaust among Iowa’s college students. Dr. Thaler, whose father, sister and other family members were victims of Nazi atrocities, was determined to make Holocaust education available through the local academic community. Dr. Thaler and his wife Joan established the Thaler Holocaust Memorial Fund to help assure that the inhumanity of the Nazi concentration camps is never forgotten, and hopefully, never repeated.
Since its inception in 1995, the THMF has sponsored classes on the Holocaust at Kirkwood Community College, Coe College and Mt. Mercy University which have include public lectures by Holocaust survivors. The survivors are invited to participate in religious services as well, at the time of Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance). In addition, they have sponsored arts events and performances inspired by the Holocaust.
David Thaler was born and raised in Lwow, Poland in 1913. He received his medical education in France, at Paris University. He immigrated to the United States in 1938, after the death of his mother. He learned english and passed the medical boards while serving as an ambulance attendant at Kings County Hospital in New York. Later, he served in the United States Army in World War II. He practiced medicine in Cedar Rapids until his retirement in 1985, and passed away in 2000.
Joan Thaler was raised in St. Louis and attended Washington University. She and David were married in 1965. In 1974, she graduated from the University of Iowa with a masters degree in social work, and she practiced at the Abbe Mental Health Center for 34 years. She is now retired but continues to be actively in the community. After Joan’s retirement, she remained active in the community and passed away in 2021
As the years pass, there are less and less Holocaust survivors to tell their own story, but with the help of the Thaler Holocaust Memorial Fund, their stories will live on in our community.
Thaler Holocaust Education Planning Committee
Jim Bernstein, Chair
Thaler Holocaust Memorial Fund
Rabbi Todd Thalblum
Grant Wood Area Education Agency
Islamic Center of Cedar Rapids
Imam Hassan Selim
Kirkwood Community College
Mt. Mercy University
Jay Shuldiner, professor emeritus