Parallel Journeys

Parallel Journeys

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 concentration 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 World War II. The riveting stories of these two remarkable people must stand as a powerful lesson to us all.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780689832369
Publisher: Aladdin
Publication date: 03/28/2000
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 91,453
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

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Parallel Journeys 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 63 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.
SpriteGoodNight on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Parallel Journeys by Eleanor Ayers, Alfons Heck, and Helen Waterford is a devastating book that will make you wonder how people could have possibly been so evil, stupid, and strong. It is a narration through the two books Commitment to the Dead by Helen Waterford and A Child of Hitler by Alfons Heck. Parallel Journeys tells the stories of both Alfons and Helen¿s lives. Helen was a married Jewish woman by the time World War II began. At that same time, Alfons was a proud young member of the Hitler Youth. Throughout and long after the war, they both suffered because of Adolf Hitler. Helen suffered from starvation and the fear of dying in a concentration camp. Alfons suffered from having his childhood taken away from him at the tender age of ten. He grew up believing Hitler was a god and he would do anything to help that god. Heck¿s friends and family where killed sacrificing themselves for the Fatherland. Alfons Heck suffered the most after the war. He had to carry the burden of his ¿god¿ who had tricked him into believing he was a great, wonderful, innocent man. His situation was very similar to many other Hitler Youth members. When I read about Alfons Heck carrying the burden of Hitler and receiving hatred from lots of people because of his membership in the Hitler Youth, I had to stop reading to try to figure out this question. Are Alfons and other Hitler Youth members guilty of the crimes they committed during World War II, or are they innocent because of their age? This is a very hard question, but I would consider them to be guilty. Even though they were young, they knew they were killing people. They certainly shouldn¿t be as harshly sentenced or blamed as those who tried to convince these Hitler Youth members to commit these crimes. To try to lessen the burden he had to carry, Alfons fled Germany and moved to Canada. Eventually he would move out of Canada and into the United States. After Heck moved to America, he started writing articles for newspapers and magazines about his membership in the Hitler Youth. Helen Waterford read one of these articles and then did the unthinkable. She called Alfons to ask him if he would want to start lecturing with her about World War II. Heck agreed, and soon they were speaking to hundreds of high school and college students. After they had each told their story, they would allow the audience to ask them questions. Many of these questions where very hard for them to answer. One student even asked Alfons if he would have shot Helen if he was told to. Heck told the truth; yes he would have killed her, because he was taught to follow any order no matter how absurd or evil. Helen and Alfons had a very fragile and strange relationship. Because of her friendship with a German, Helen received more nasty remarks and questions then Alfons. Many of those questions where similar to, ¿When did you stop hating Alfons?¿ to this Helen replied that she had never hated him. That shocked many people. They then wanted to know what she expected to gain from not hating him. She explained that, ¿I had learned only too well that hate is a boomerang that only destroys the sender. I wanted to build peace, not feed the flame of a never-ending destruction." Parallel Journeys does a great job of explaining the tragedy of World War II. It is a wonderful, informational comparison of two memoirs. Surprisingly, it is one of the best books I have ever read. I recommend this book to anyone over the age of twelve, because for younger kids this might be a little too scary. For everyone else, this is an excellent read if you want to learn about World War II.
jeaneva on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The "parallel" stories of Helen (a young German Jew) and Alfons ( a dedicated Hitler Youth).You might have seen him in that BBC film, The Fatal Attraction of Adolf Hitler, or together with Mrs. Waterford on various talk shows. Their experiences highlight the reason for Holocaust eduction: "Never again!"
kristi17 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"Parallel Journeys" by Eleanor Ayer, is the story of two young Germans during WWII. The girl (Helen Waterford) was Jewish and fled to Amsterdam to escape the Nazi's only to get captured there and end up at the Auschwitz concentration camp. The boy (Alfons Heck) was an avid member of the Hitler Youth, and by the time he was 16 (16!) had achieved a rank equivalent to a major general just before the war ended - he commanded 6,000 Hitler Youth troops.Although the two never met during the war (they were about 19 years apart in age), the story unfolds by chronologically switching back in forth between their perspectives, so the reader gets to see what each was doing at the same points in time. It is geared toward teenagers because the author describes in detail the adolescence of both individuals, and how the choices they made during that time effected the rest of their lives. There is a lot of discussion about the Hitler Youth as well, and how many young kids died for the Nazis. There are a lot of quotes taken directly from their respective biographies included in the narrative.I enjoyed the book not only because of these individuals' huge part in history (she actually knew the Frank family; he once met Hitler in person) but because it goes on to tell how the lives of all the people panned out. Unbelievably, they actually met in 1980 and did a series of lectures together. Very interesting stuff!
lndgrr on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Excellent dual biography, juxtaposing a concerntration survivor with a Hitler Youth.
tgallant on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A story written from two different sides of the Second World War by two people that were born in the same area of Germany. Alfons Heck was a young and impressionable German caught up in the fanaticism of the ¿master Race¿ that Hitler was creating. He belonged to the Hitler Youth and wanted nothing more than to fight for what he believed in.On the other side Helen Waterford, a young German Jew who was persecuted throughout the war, hiding when she could and eventually found her backed in a cattle car with the last stop being Auschwitz.The way this book was written is quite unique in the way is shows both sides of the war. It shows how young impressionable people can be persuaded to do just about anything. Alfons only concerned himself with fighting for the Motherland. He did not know or did not believe what was happening during the war to the Jewish race. If he heard anything he was so well ¿programmed¿ that he believed it was propaganda from the other side. Helen left Germany for Holland because of the tolerance for the Jew¿s. She eventually had to go into hiding and then shipped to Auschwitz for the ¿final solution. Her struggle to survive, and overcome all that she had to is evident in the book. Her ability to forgive has to be the most amazing part of this book. It should definitely be considered when choosing books to read that about the Holocaust and Second World War.
AngelaG86 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A biography of a man and woman, both raised in Germany during WWII: the man raised in Hitler Youth, the woman a Jew.
wyvernfriend on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is an interesting parallel story by two people who were on opposite sides of the German wartime experience. Helen Waterford is Jewish and hid out in Amsterdam until she was taken to Auschwitz. Alfons Heck was in the Hitler Youth and was a teenage commander of frontline troops. They both survived the war to tell their tale and in fact told their tale together for a while which has led to questions but they thought it would be best to actually face up to the issues.Compelling read. The aftermath is almost more interesting than the war time years.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The contrasting perspectives gives a very unique view on the war. You see tradegy and fear over differing events and timelines. Well worth the read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Though the genuine occurrences taking place commence slowly, it soon develops and progresses. The story of two people’s journey through a terrible time in history is extremely informative. In addition to their perspectives, the author presents information about significant events taking place during World War II. The book also presents two enormously different people, experiencing two very opposite journeys. At times the information begins to overload us, the events of this boy and woman surely will compensate. These two perspectives enlighten us on two different lives experienced during World War II. The studying of this book will allow both fascinations along with disgust. The horrors and truthfulness represented in these memoirs of the Hitler Youth and Holocaust will lead you to question humanity and the actions that commences decades ago. Though this book is only a few chapters long, when reading, it feels as if it is a novel that is never ending in its fascinating and truthful horrors. Along with providing us with faithful accounts of two people’s journey, it presents us with interesting views and understanding of WWII that a simple Global class may not provide us.
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
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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.