‘Claiming My Place’ is a Sobering and Courageous Account of What it Takes to Survive Intolerant Mankind [REVIEW]

Barbara and Sabina in Munich

Barbara (center) and Sabina with other survivors at the Jewish Relief Center at the Deutsches Museum, Munich, fall 1945. (Photo courtesy Farrar Straus Giroux)

Diamond Review BannerA young woman with a bright future ahead of her finds herself trapped at the epicenter of the Holocaust. Using her wits as her only weapon, she is compelled to make a choice that will become her most closely guarded secret, one that will change the very trajectory of her life. Who is Barbara Reichmann? Find out in the unforgettable true story, Claiming My Place.

Planaria Price with Helen Reichmann West's CLAIMING MY PLACE

Farrar Straus Giroux

Growing up as a Jew in a mostly Catholic Poland during the 1920s and 30s, Gucia Gomolinska is bright, tenacious, independent and resolute in the face of discrimination. Undeterred by bitter opposition, she remains a good student, is well liked, and falls for a handsome boy.

Yet any dreams she has are quickly dashed as the Nazis invade Poland and turn her town of Piotrków Trybunalski into the first Jewish ghetto during World War II. As the madness of the war escalates, she endures hunger, pestilence, and more along with everyone she knows.

Unlike Anne Frank, however, she is blond and fair-skinned, traits that separate her from her peers and which she can use to her advantage if only she dares to. Because Gucia has a choice to make, she can risk certain death and resist the Nazi regime or face the horrors of deportation to a concentration camp.

Finally, she makes a heartbreaking decision and leaves everyone and everything she knows behind and claims a new life and a new identity as Danuta Barbara Tanska, and goes by the nickname Basia. What happens after that is a tale marked by bravery, virtue, and shrewd decisions. Utilizing maps and photographs, sit back and follow along as Barbara recounts her personal story in what is destined to become one of the most beloved biographies of our time.

Although Claiming My Place is marketed as a biography for young adults, it is a story that should be mandatory reading for any student of history and the human condition. Fueled by an indomitable spirit and unfathomable courage, this is the tale of a young woman who is at her core a survivor. Her candor and verve, even in the midst of one of the most heinous acts of humanity, are but one of the myriad stories that seem to continuously surface in the aftermath of World War II. But it is none the less impressive, life affirming, and sobering.

This is a biography that makes us take a long hard look at current world conditions and compare it to where we’ve been as a species. It forces us to examine the atrocities mankind has doled out in the name of intolerance, and begs us to choose a different path going forward. Once you read this fascinating life story, you too will become a witness to history, one who must help decide our fate in the years to come.

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Planaria Price

Planaria Price


Planaria Price has published six textbooks with McGraw-Hill and the University of Michigan Press and has lectured at more than 75 conferences. She met the then 90-year-old subject of this book in 2006, interviewed her at length, and conducted extensive historical and social research in order to write this account in collaboration with Helen Reichmann West.

After graduating from Berkeley and earning a Master’s Degree in English Literature from UCLA, she began her career teaching English to adult immigrants in Los Angeles. Today, in addition to her passion for teaching and writing, she has worked with her husband  to save and restore more than 30 Victorian and Craftsman homes in her historic Los Angeles neighborhood. Claiming My Place is her first book for young adults.

For more information, visit her home on the Web at PlanariaPrice.com and follow her on Twitter.

Dr. Helen Reichmann West is a psychotherapist in private practice. Prior to collaborating on this biography of her mother, Helen has published academic articles, essays, book reviews, and poems in professional and literary journals. She lives with her husband, Carl Frank, in Washington, DC, and Key West, Florida.

By Planaria Price with Helen Reichmann West
272 pp. Farrar Straus Giroux. $17.99

Purchase Claiming My Place at one of these fine online retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, IndieBound and Powell’s.

Claiming My Place is brought to you in association with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.

04_Claiming My Place_Blog Tour Banner_final

About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

4 Responses to ‘Claiming My Place’ is a Sobering and Courageous Account of What it Takes to Survive Intolerant Mankind [REVIEW]

  1. Amy Bruno says:

    What a stellar review! Thank you very much for hosting the blog tour!

    HF Virtual Book Tours

  2. Leszek Dion-Wesolowski says:


    I’m from Poland, I’m not a Jew. In my home, we never talked bad about other religions or nations. My opinion: in every nation, in every religion there are individuals who are fanatics. This applies to both Catholics, Jews, Christians, Buddhists, etc. Fanatics have always been and will continue to incite Jews on Catholicism, Christians on Buddhists, etc. English is my second language please forgive me some mistakes.

    Excerpt from article..”Growing up as a Jew in a mostly Catholic Poland during the 1920s and 30s, Gucia Gomolinska is bright, tenacious, independent and resolute in the face of discrimination. Undeterred by bitter opposition, she remains a good student, is well liked, and falls for a handsome boy.”

    What kind of “discrimination” Gucia did during this time? ???

    A little history about Poland and religious freedoms in Poland –The Warsaw Confederation, signed on 28 January 1573 by the Polish national assembly in Warsaw, was the first European act granting religious freedoms.
    From the founding of the Kingdom of Poland in 1025 through to the early years of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth created in 1569, Poland was the most tolerant country in Europe.[4] Historians have described the label paradisus iudaeorum (Latin for “Paradise of the Jews”) as a “more or less accurate description of the Jewish situation” in Poland in the sixteenth century.[5][6] The country became a shelter for persecuted and expelled European Jewish communities and the home to the world’s largest Jewish community of the time.

    Rabbi Moses Isserles XVI century and his opinion about Poland.

    Etc. Etc Etc. In all nations are Fanatic,

    Best Regards

    Lex – Leszek

    • Jathan Fink says:

      Hi Lex,

      Thanks so much for writing. Having a great many friends from Poland, I was by no means indicating that the entire nation was caught up in the racist fervor of the day. However, I believe that then, like now, there was an aspect of the community who had their own biases and prejudices, were anti-Semetic, etc. People are people, and mankind has a long track record of being intolerant even when they may say they aren’t. All we have to do is take a look around at the growing unrest toward those who are different today, regardless of the country we live in. (See my review of WHY I’M NO LONGER TALKING TO WHITE PEOPLE ABOUT RACE for more on that.)

      Nevertheless, that being said, my focus was on the growing angst that was inspired by the Nazi regime, especially after they invaded and set up the ghettos. That only amplified whatever intolerance there already was, and the story (and my review) were focused primarily on Reichmann’s strength and courage to survive in the face of those impossible odds.


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