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Parallel Journeys

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Overview

She was a young German Jew.
He was an ardent member of the Hitler Youth.
This is the story of their parallel journey through World War II.

Helen Waterford and Alfons Heck were born just a few miles from each other in the German Rhineland. But their lives took radically different courses: Helen's to the Auschwitz extermination camp; Alfons to a high rank in the Hitler Youth.
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Overview

She was a young German Jew.
He was an ardent member of the Hitler Youth.
This is the story of their parallel journey through World War II.

Helen Waterford and Alfons Heck were born just a few miles from each other in the German Rhineland. But their lives took radically different courses: Helen's to the Auschwitz extermination camp; Alfons to a high rank in the Hitler Youth.
While Helen was hiding in Amsterdam, Alfons was a fanatic believer in Hitler's "master race." While she was crammed in a cattle car bound for the death camp Auschwitz, he was a teenage commander of frontline troops, ready to fight and die for the glory of Hitler and the Fatherland. This book tells both of their stories, side-by-side, in an overwhelming account of the nightmare that was WWII. The riveting stories of these two remarkable people must stand as a powerful lesson to us all.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Ayer juxtaposes the stories of two WWII youths, one a German Jew and the other a Hitler Youth, excerpted from their published memoirs. "Weak execution undermines the premise of the volume," said PW. Ages 10-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Weak execution undermines the premise of this volume, a dual biography of Waterford, a Jewish woman who survived Auschwitz, and Heck, a German who had risen to the highest circles of the Hitler Youth organization. As the book states, Waterford and Heck currently speak publicly as a team, together explaining the horrors of WWII and the importance of compassion in healing that war's wounds. As the editor of Renaissance House, Ayer has already published Waterford's and Heck's individual memoirs (respectively, Commitment to the Dead; and A Child of Hitler and The Burden of Hitler's Legacy); here she excerpts passages from these works and interpolates a chronicle of the war. However, her account skimps on facts-even so basic a matter as Waterford's date of birth is obscured, and battles and campaigns are only roughly situated (``Early in 1942, the Allies struck back. For the first time, British troops defeated the Germans''). This soft-focus approach allows Waterford's and Heck's statements to go unchallenged-a particular problem with Heck, whose story seems self-serving and incomplete at best. Accordingly, the thesis is hard to swallow-that Waterford and Heck were both Hitler's victims. Ages 12-up. (June) q
Children's Literature - Children's Literature
Ayers has crafted a remarkable book in Parallel Journeys. Alternating chapters describe the lives of Alfons Heck, a 16-year-old leader in the Hitler Youth, and Helen Waterford, a Jewish wife and mother who experienced the Holocaust. As Helen and her husband hid their young child with a Christian family near Amsterdam, Alfons was becoming the youngest top-rated German glider pilot. While Alfons led thousands of young German Hitler Youth in combat at the front, Helen was struggling to survive Auschwitz. The book centers upon the direct quotations of Helen and Alfons, with the text by Ayers supplying much-needed historical background and further detail. Differing in two main ways from other World War II/Holocaust novels, this book should be required reading for any student studying World War II. First, it tells the story of World War II from two different points of view, and second, Ayers does not conclude with the peace treaty. The book goes on to describe the difficulties of readjusting to life following the war. Readers can gain an understanding of the extreme displacement experienced by the Jews, left without a country, as well as of the emotional turmoil of the German people, many of whom felt betrayed by Hitler and personally guilty for the war crimes committed by the Nazis. The book ends with the amazing story of how Helen and Alfons finally met in America. The two now give lectures as a team, stressing the fact that the Holocaust, with its beginnings in prejudice, must never be forgotten in order that it may never be repeated. This is a compelling and amazing story of survival and forgiveness, for both the Jews and the Germans. 2000, Aladdin Paperbacks, Ages 11 to 17, $16.00 and$5.99. Reviewer: Elizabeth Pabrinkis
KLIATT
The journeys chronicled here are the contrasting WW II lives of Helen Waterford and Alfons Heck. Removed by geography as well as 60 years of history, we Americans often don't realize much about this conflict. First, the people involved were often neighbors. Helen, daughter of a middle-class Jewish family, and Alfons, son of an upper-middle-class German family, were born just a few miles apart. Second, Germany conscripted youngsters into the army via the Hitler Youth. Alfons joined as soon as he reached "the magic age of ten." Third, some of these children became disillusioned with Hitler long before their elders did. And fourth, everybody's life was torn apart because of this war. The book is a combination of narrative and diary-like entries from both Helen and Alfons, and they take turns talking. Reading about Alfons' love of Hitler, when it looked as if the Reich actually would last 1000 years, we're held by a kind of sick fascination. Reading about Helen's wartime experiences, we just feel sick. "If it had been me, could I have coped as well?" And then, 40 years after the war ended, the two met in San Diego, where they both had settled. It's hard to believe that Helen felt no hatred for this former enemy, but she had great compassion for him. He had to face hatred and intolerance, though, from Americans who didn't understand that he was also a victim of the Nazi machine. Helen and Alfons now speak about the war years to school and community groups, hoping that their friendship will mean something, that what happened in Germany will never happen again, that Hitler's "legacy should remain a lasting warning to the world." An ALA Best Book for YAs. Highly recommended. KLIATT Codes:JSA*—Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 1995, Simon & Schuster/Aladdin, 244p, notes, bibliog, index, 20cm, 94-23277, $5.99. Ages 13 to adult. Reviewer: Judith H. Silverman; Chevy Chase, MD, May 2000 (Vol. 34 No. 3)
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-This is a book to make your blood run cold. Through Ayer's narrative and excerpts from Heck's memoirs, A Child of Hitler and The Burden of Hitler's Legacy, readers learn how Alfons changed from a loving, wholesome boy to a ``Nazi devil'' (even the Germans called the elite Hitler Youth by that name). It is frightening to see how easily young people can be swayed, and readers learn just how it happened. Alternating chapters reveal Helen Waterford's story through excerpts from her book, Commitment to the Dead, and Ayer's background material. Fleeing with her fiancee to Amsterdam after Kristallnacht, Helen was again caught in the Nazi noose and struggled to survive. As her plight grew more desperate, Alfons rose higher and higher in the Hitler Youth. Eventually, when he and his ragged corps faced annihilation by the Russians, he realized how Hitler had sacrificed his ``children.'' When Alfons and Helen met in the U.S. 40 years after the war, they found that they shared a common purpose: to help young people understand that peace and compassion are possible between individuals, and on a larger scale as well. Their first-person accounts are interwoven with Ayer's words so seamlessly that readers are unaware of the intrusion of a third person. She is an excellent biographer, capturing nuances of her subjects' characters and personality traits. A fascinating work.-Marcia W. Posner, Holocaust Memorial and Educational Center of Nassau County, Glen Cove, NY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689832369
  • Publisher: Aladdin
  • Publication date: 3/28/2000
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 106,887
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 50 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(31)

4 Star

(10)

3 Star

(4)

2 Star

(1)

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(4)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 50 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 10, 2010

    Recommended

    Parallel Journeys, it's about Helen Waterford: a German Jew, and Alfons Heck: a German boy part of the Hitler's youth. This book tells both side of what is going on during the Holocaust. Alfons Heck: a boy who never knew a Germany with out Nazis. Picture: world war 1, 1918. Massive destruction to France, the agreement that ended the it was, the treaty of Versailles, it made hard for Germany and its people, Germany had to pay for the destruction they did, they couldn't rebuild an army nor navy, and they lost some land. Hitler blamed the Jewish people for the lost. So Hitler started a group called the Nazis, and this group grew to world 2 . Helen Waterford: November 9, 1930. SA and SS men started throwing rocks at Jewish owned businesses. "Kristallnacht" night of broken glass. The dark words of warning hurled about, the Nazis suddenly became very real for Helen and the other Jews in Europe, even Polish Jews had been arrested and shipped in boxcars to the woods or the Auschwitz death camps. In my very own opinion this book is very good, and mind opening; it goes more in of what is happening in this time, on two totally opposite sides of the war, follow the stories of the Hitler youth and the German Jew going for cover.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2008

    WONDERFUL

    I loved this book it was so nice to hear both sides of the story and see what they went through I would recommend this book to everyone able to read. You must read this book!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2013

    Very good

    I had to read this in my sixth grade english class. It was very good but sad and i coulndnt put it down.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2011

    its ok

    It is a little confuseing because it switches back and forth each chapter and it does not lable it.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2013

    Eleanor Ayer creates such a remarkable series of events that des

    Eleanor Ayer creates such a remarkable series of events that describe life back then during the Holocaust. Eleanor Ayer published the book Parallel Journeys, which was about a 16 year old German boy named Alfons Heck who trudged his way through the holocaust; a terrible moment in history that changed everything. Heck explains his thoughts and feelings of being there personally such as being frightened, exhilarated and distraught. I enjoyed this book because it was an edge of the seat kind of story. You wouldn’t know what was going to happen. The events that took place kept me wanting to read more of the book every time I turned the page. Teenage boys and or girls who enjoy reading should take a look at this book, read it, and enjoy it. As a result, I found myself enjoying this book and reading it anytime that I could get my hands on it. 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2013

     Imagine being in a concentration camp, being worried by one swi

     Imagine being in a concentration camp, being worried by one swipe of a finger is life or death. Imagine being a Hitlers Youth leader
    at the the end of war and about to be executed by a firing squad. The book Parallel Journeys by Eleanor H. Ayer, Helen Waterford,
    and Alfons Heck is about World War Two and how it impacted a young Jewish girl and a young German boy’s life. In the beginning,  
    It starts with Alfons Heck a young German who got brain-washed by Hitler's army to join. Helen Waterford is a young Jewish girl.
     She tells the story of how Hitler ruined her and many others lives.The book is a must-read. The depressing mood makes the theme so much more powerful.
    Young adults will love this work of history. 

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  • Posted December 2, 2012

    The book Parallel Journey¿s by Eleanor Ayer is a book that

    The book Parallel Journey’s by Eleanor Ayer is a book that tells about the lives of two people in Germany. The book starts out before the start of World War II. The book starts out before the war starts out but when Hitler had already been in power. The book follows the lives of Alfons a German and Helen a German Jew. The book is interesting because it follows the lives of two different people in Germany during World War II and you are able to see what their war time experience is like. Alfons is a faithful German that lives in a part of Germany called the Rhineland. The people in this part of Germany had learned to hate the French and to think that Germans were better. He also learned to dislike and hate Jews. Helen is a Jew that grew up close to Alfons in the city of Frankfurt. Helen likes her life; she likes living in a large city and being able to go to plays, museums, libraries and everything else that a big city has.
    The book looks at the lives of both Alfons and Helen. Alfons is young at the time and so he is made to join the Hitler Youth. Alfons like most Germans likes the Hitler Youth. He is loyal to Germany and to Hitler. He is very good at his training and especially in being able to pilot a glider. He exercises and learns about combat in the Hitler Youth. Helen on the other hand is a Jew and many people do not like Jews. One night many German soldiers and many other people start to smash in the windows and the stores and homes of many Jews. This night is known as Kristallnacht. Because of this Helen is forced to move to Holland. Meanwhile Alfons continues to do good in the Hitler Youth and he is promoted. Helen is discovered to be a Jew while she is hiding in Holland and she is sent to a concentration camp. Birkenau and later she is sent to another camp. There she sees how thousands of Jews are killed then burned. Alfons near the end of the war sees how thousand of Hitler Youth are ordered to defend Hitler and Berlin and end up dying.
    Both Helen and Alfons come to America after the war. Alfons sees that he has made a mistake in believing Hitler but everyone was and all kids his age joined the Hitler Youth. Helen has seen thousands of Jews killed in the concentration camps. Late in their lives Alfons writes a story for a newspaper about what it is like to be a Hitler Youth and Helen reads it. She invites Alfons to meet her and he does. They both decide to do lectures together. Many people like this but some do not.
    I thought this was a good book because it shows both sides of the story. You get to see the war and Germany from a Jew and someone that liked Hitler. The story is interesting and teaches you a lot. Also the book teaches you not only about Helen and Alfons there are a lot of parts that tell you about what was happening during World War II so you can learn a lot. The book is good because it tells you about their lives after the war too. I thought it was kind of amazing that enemies could get together after the war. I would recommend this book because it is interesting and you can learn a lot. Also because you can see what it would be like to be a kid during this time. The book is good and not too hard to read but there are some thing s that were kind of hard and it was kind of hard to remember all the different things about the war. This is a good book for some kids and teenagers because it is not to hard to read and because it is about teenagers so they could learn from it. I recommend this book for everyone

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2012

    Amazing

    Greatest book ever"!"!!!!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2012

    Parallel Journeys

    An okay book wih tons of suspense.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2012

    Great book

    I had to read this for my eigth grade english class and wasn't looking forward to it at all. I usually hate the books I'm forced to read for school, but for some strange reason I couldn't put this book down. Extremely unique in the way it is written and very informative. I learned so much about the Holocaust and World War 2 without feeling like it was being shoved in my face like in history class. It was just great. I definitely recommend it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2012

    Good

    Good book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2010

    Amazing stories.

    I read this book multiple times in high school, but I have since lost my copy. I was hoping to find it on my nook, but I guess it's not available as an ebook. From what I remember the 2 stories were told beautifully, and hearing them side by side, at the same time, made it even more heart wrenching. You can't help but get completely absorbed in the stories. Please make as an EBook!

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  • Posted February 20, 2010

    the best book ever

    Parallel Journeys is the best book ever because the characters make the story interesting. This book is very intence and you dont know what will happen next it is very good. I could not pick my favorite character because the are all so good. If your interested in world war2 this is a great book to learn about ww2 and on top on all of that there are really interesting pictures and the deatails are very good.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2008

    Shows both sides of the Holocaust

    I loved this book! I thought Eleanor Ayer did an excellent job telling both sides of the story, as well Helen Waterford and Alfrons Heck's excerpts. The Nazi children in the Hitler Youth believed that they really were the 'Supreme Race,' and this book shows that in such a detail it chilled my soul. A book that will make you ponder ethnicity and understand what WWII was really about.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2008

    Parallel Journeys book review

    ¿For many Jews, the hardest thing to bear was the fact that their own neighbors were the ones who were torturing them.¿ This book was about two people with completely different views on the Holocaust. Helen Waterford was a Jewish woman while Alfons Heck was a Hitler supporter in the Hitler Youth. They lived 60 miles from each other in Germany. Helen fled to Germany to avoid going to a concentration camp. Many of her friends died and so did her husband. Alfons was a Hitler Youth. This book is about their experiences and how they met. Alfons was in the Hitler Youth and was very highly ranked. His family really hated Hitler, but Alfons loved Hitler so much that when Hitler killed himself, Alfons said ¿it was as if his God had died fighting.¿ Alfons joined the Hitler Youth against his family¿s wishes. None of his family had liked Hitler. Alfons lost his family because they thought he was too obsessive over Hitler. In the book Alfons said that if Hitler told him to go off and kill any random person, he probably would have. Helen was a Jewish woman. She became a displaced person because she lost her home. Her husband died in a concentration camp in the 1940¿s. Helen had lost many of her family and friends in the Holocaust. One of the main themes of this book is how Helen and Alfons lost their families and friends. What is interesting is that the war caused them to have the same result in two very different ways. Over all the book made a worthwhile contribution to the genre. It was mostly about the Holocaust and what millions of people lost because of it. Many people like me might be attracted to a book like this because it takes you away from your life and lets you focus on other peoples problems.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 2007

    great book!

    This was such a powerful and amazing book. It was really interesting to hear both sides of the story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2007

    BORING

    the book did not catch my attention- i hated reading it. i felt like it was going on forever

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 2006

    Opens 11 year old's eyes

    The book 'Parrallel Journey' opened my eyes to a whole new world. You don't know the Holocaust until you read this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2006

    WEAK

    The book wasn't that good, i know i would never recomend int to anyone.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 4, 2006

    Intriguing

    This book was an gripping story that told about the lives of two young people. They were both victims of the Holocaust in opposite ways.

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