Helen Wolff

(July 27, 1906 – March 28, 1994)

Publisher and linguist, Helen Wolff was born Helen Mosel in Üsküb, the Turkish name for today’s Skopje in the Republic of North Macedonia. Her German father Ludwig Mosel, an electrical engineer, worked for Siemens and had been sent to Macedonia to help electrify Turkey. Her mother, Josefa Fischof was Hungarian/Austrian and although she had had little formal education, she loved learning and worked occasionally as a correspondent for German newspapers. She instilled her love of learning in her four children and made sure they received a quality education. Helen found herself surrounded by a myriad of languages, and that became her passion. At home the family spoke German, Turkish and Serbian, and the children absorbed a belief in tolerance for other people, customs, and religions. Their mother read to them from the Koran when they were children, although Helen grew up in the Catholic church. When the Balkan War broke out in 1912, the family left and was separated. Josefa brought her children first to her family in Vienna while Helen’s father was sent to Turkey as part of the German consular service.

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