Parallel Journeys

Eleanor H. Ayer, Author, Helen Waterford, Author, Alfons Heck, Author
Eleanor H. Ayer, Author, Helen Waterford, Author, Alfons Heck, Author Atheneum Books $16 (244p) ISBN 978-0-689-31830-6
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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
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