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Parallel Journeys Paperback – March 1, 2000

4.7 out of 5 stars 79 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers 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 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 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
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 7
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Aladdin; Reprint edition (March 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689832362
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689832369
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,129 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

A Kid's Review on November 20, 2005
Format: Paperback
Parallel Journeys

By:Eleanor Ayer

This book turned out to be a very good book. The front cover features Adolf Hitler with

thousands of his young supporters hailing him during World War Two. Books about the war

usually depress me so usually I wouldn't read them, but this book appealed to me because of the

faces of two teenagers on the front cover. That lead me to read the back cover which simply

said-He was an ardent member of the Hitler Youth. This is a story of the parallel journey through

World War II with Alfons Heck, and Helen Wohlfarth. It compares the two people who had

completely different experiences of the war and to let them tell their stories side by side. It tells

how Helen was treated bad during the war, and how Alfons was training to treat people like

Helen badly and get ready for the war. When I first started reading this book I noticed how

different it was to some of the other novels I have read about the holocaust. It's very chilling to

realize that it is non-fiction. It isn't based on a true story

I learned many things that I didn't know about the Holocaust. I never realized how bad it

was until I read this book. I was surprised to know how young some of the men were while in the

army. It was really sick to know that if they disobeyed an order they could be put to death. For

example, when Alfons thought an order he was given was a mistake and didn't follow it. He was

punished but luckily not killed. After he punished he never disobeyed an order again even if it was

to kill himself. I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes war books especially World

War Two books.

Written by: Joe Boggs Madison Middle School
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Format: Hardcover
While they aren't from the same family, Helen Waterford and Alfons Heck have developed similar respect for one another that siblings have for each other. In their childhoods, these two never would have dreamed that they would be traveling the country together giving lectures at high schools and colleges. Heck was a rising power in the Hitler youth; Waterford a young Jewish girl suffering through concentration camps and death marches. Eleanor H. Ayer weaves the stories of both these survivors together beautifully. She incorporates the history of the Holocaust as well as personal testimony from Waterford and Heck. This really is a must read for anyone interested in the Holocaust or the oppression of Jews from 1933-1945.
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By Devin on February 10, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is a great book. It contrasts the views of a Hitler Youth and follower and a Jewish Prisoner very well. If you are interested at all in the Holocaust, this book is a must read. It is filled with interesting and horrifying facts. The author arranged this book well
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent and important book. The story follows the journey of 2 very different Germans during WW2, a Jewish girl, and an aryan boy who grows up to become a Nazi soldier. The history and viewpoints were very insightful, and I learned some things about the war that I did not know. It is difficult to comprehend the suffering that was endured by the Jews of that time, but it is also enlightening to see that the German people suffered as well; albeit not to the degree that those who were sent to concentration camps/death camps....which not only included Jews, but Germans, Jehovah's Witnesses, gypsies and many elderly/handicapped people. I found it hard to read when the suffering was described, but I also found it impossible to put down. Well done. All students need to read this book. May we NEVER forget the horrors from WW2.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a good first read for people trying to wrap their minds around the Holocaust and WWII in the European theater. It follows the separate journeys of a Hitler Youth and a newlywed Jewish woman. The author ties the two journeys together with historical narration that helps the reader understand the events. At the end of the book, both the erstwhile Hitler Youth and the Jewish woman meet and work to educate the world about Hitler and his enactment of the Final Solution. The information covered in this book lays a foundation for WWII and the Holocaust.
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Format: Paperback
Parallel Journeys, by Eleanor Ayer with Helen Waterford and Alfons Heck, compares the life of two young people in Germany during the rise of Hitler and the outbreak of World War II. They were born within sixty miles of each other, but their lives took dramatically different paths. Alfons, a boy grew up on a farm in Germany, but when Hitler came to power he became involved with the Hitler Youth. He began his training to become the future of Germany and eventually the world. There he learned discipline and order. He trained to become a soldier and he learned the ways of warfare. He was taught to be a follower of anti-Semitism. He was told to hate the Jewish, and that they were the reason for Germany's problems. As years went by, Alfons rose through the ranks of the military. He started as a captain of a couple hundred boys into a major general of a couple thousand that were among the last to surrender. When the Allies finally came into Germany, Alfons, only seventeen, threw out his uniform and became a translator for the Americans who did not know of his past. Eventually the Americans found out and Alfons was ordered to turn himself in. The Americans viewed the Hitler Youth as misguided children and let Alfons go. After thirteen years Alfons moved to America after the memories of the Hitler yeas were forgotten.

Helen Waterford was a young Jewish girl who grew up in Frankfurt, Germany. She married Siegfried Wohlfarth and the two moved to Amsterdam because of tension in Frankfurt. She had a baby girl Doris whom she gave to friends because she was going into hiding. She and her husband were found by the Nazis and taken to Birkenau. Birkenau was one of the forty camps at Auschwitz. There she experienced to horror of the death camps.
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