Parallel Journeys
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Parallel Journeys

4.2 54
by Eleanor H. Ayer
     
 

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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

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.

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.|
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

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780689832369
Publisher:
Aladdin
Publication date:
03/28/2000
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
52,548
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

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Parallel Journeys 4.2 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 54 reviews.
dalana More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had to read it for school and it was better than you'd think
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
 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. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had to read this in my sixth grade english class. It was very good but sad and i coulndnt put it down.
james-t More than 1 year ago
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
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Greatest book ever"!"!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is a little confuseing because it switches back and forth each chapter and it does not lable it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
PARALLEL JOURNEYS was written by ELENOR AYER, the book teaches the reader about World War II from two very different points of views. One person is Helen who is Jewish and gets caught and sent to a concentration camp. The other person was Alfons who was a Hitler youth member. The book is takes place in Germany, Poland and also Amsterdam, Holland during the 1930s through the 1940s. Helen's husband Siegfried and their daughter named Doris had to go into hiding to escape the Nazis. But to protect Doris, her parents gave her away to foster parents. Eventually Helen and Siegfried were caught and sent to a concentration camp. Helen was forced to live in the Concentration Camps until the camps were liberated. Helen's main reason for trying to survive the concentration camp was to be able to see her daughter again! When Helen finally saw her daughter for the first time in three years Doris was more excited to take a ride in the jeep to school than see her own mom. This was very sad that Doris cared more about the Jeep than her own mother who had survived the concentration camp for her. Unlike Helen who was suffering for her life, Alfons was in the Hitler youth and eventually was in charge of a lot of people who were also in the Hitler youth. Alfons was so happy to be a German and meet Hitler, he was in his glory. He later realized that he was brainwashed by Hitler and the Nazis. The reason why Alfons and Helen wrote the book for us to read is so we would learn from their experiences and not do horrible things like this again in the future. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes to read history books and to anyone who wants to know more about World War II. I liked reading the book because I learned about the history from where I was born. I recommend this book to my dad and who is interested in this time period.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Eleanor Ayer writes Parallel Journeys, which teaches the reader about the lives of Helen Waterford and Alfons Heck. This story takes place in Germany and Holland during World War II. At this time, Hitler was the leader of Germany. Helen Waterford was a Jewish lady who lived in Holland with her family. Helen was forced to go into hiding to try and escape Hitler and the Nazis. Hitler was sending all the Jewish people to death camps and labor camps. The labor camps were where people work until they were not strong enough to work. The death camps where were the Nazis killed Jewish people. Eventually Helen was found and sent to a concentration camp. Alfons life was very different than Helens. Alfons was apart of the Hitler youth. Alfons wanted to be a Nazis soldiers because he believed in everything Hitler said. As the war went on, Alfons was in charge of thousands of Hitler youth boys and he was telling them what they had to do. Alfons was so involved in the Hitler Youth that he even got to meet Hitler. As the Americans got closer to taking over, Hitler killed himself. Alfons was upset that his leader killed himself and began to think differently about him. I would recommend this book. I think that it's a great book to read and learn about what happened in Germany and to the Jewish people when Hitler was alive. I learned that the Jewish people were treated badly when Hitler was the ruler of Germany.
pep12 More than 1 year ago
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.