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Thursday, 29 January 2015

Parallel Journeys



By Eleanor Ayer
With Helen Waterford and Alfons Heck
5 Stars
Historical
Adult

This is another book from my children's homeschooling library. Like many or these books that I've chosen to read and review the contents are not only educational but also quite disturbing. With the recent 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz it does talk about a time that we would be wise not to forget.

The setting of the book is Nazi Germany and tells the story of two people alternating between the two stories. It is a powerful contrast. Helen Waterford was a young Jewish woman from Germany. Her family escaped to Holland before the Second World War began. Her and her husband Siegfried were once again subject to the Nazi boot when Holland was overrun. They tried hiding but were eventually captured and sent to the concentration camps. Helen survived her husband did not. Her story is harrowing and horrible.

Jews were not the only people sent to the concentration camps and here is where I identify with her. As a Sabbatarian Christian I have no doubt that had the Nazis found me I'd have been there too. I do have one advantage in that I look like a typical Dutchman and therefore would have had an easier time escaping detection. I don't know if there is enough of the hero in me to have been a part of the underground although I have a dear friend now passed away whose family was part of that effort.

Alfons Heck was a youth when the Nazis came to power and he joined the Hitler Youth and enthusiastically supported the glory of Germany. He rose in the ranks and had quite a high position of leadership by the end of the war. He was only sixteen at the time. He personally met Hitler and other high ranking Nazi leaders along the way. With the end of the war, he looked for answers. Instead of denying what he had done he set out to speak out. He wanted to truth to be told to help keep this from ever happening again.

Helen and Alfons began touring together with their message and their stories. The result here is powerful, thought provoking and disturbing. I highly recommend it to any of my readers.