Helena Bosse: A promise kept, mi’dor l’dor

Helena Bosse (C) with her son Aart Bosse and daughter-in-law Janet Warkentin-Bosse at the Calgary Violins of Hope concert. Photo by Maxine Fischbein.

by Maxine Fischbein

(AJNews) – Helena Bosse was one of the honoured guests attending the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra’s performance last month which featured “The Auschwitz Violin” one of the Violins of Hope presented in Calgary in association with the Holocaust and Human Rights: Commemoration and Education Department of the Calgary Jewish Federation. Bosse’s relationship to the violins is remarkable.

During World War II, Helena Visser, promised Jewish neighbour and fellow-violist Fanny Hecht that if the Nazis came for the Hechts and their two sons, she would care for and play the violin until their return. The Nazis came, and Visser remained true to her word. She played the Hecht Violin for decades before passing it on to her daughter, Helena Bosse, who played it for decades more.

Bosse brought the beloved instrument to Okotoks, Alberta where her family settled after immigrating to Canada from Amsterdam.

Helena Bosse’s children traveled to Israel in 2016 to donate the Hecht Violin to the Violins of Hope collection. Just before that, at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, they learned that Fanny and Alex Hecht were murdered at Auschwitz in 1943. Their youngest son Ernst perished at Sobibor. His older brother Fritz died at Monowitz, a sub-camp of Auschwitz, just five months before liberation. Thanks to the two Helenas, the Hecht family will be forever remembered.

Maxine Fischbein is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter at Alberta Jewish News. 

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