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Heart Mountain parallels Japanese American incarceration and the Holocaust through the story of two men

Exhibit curator Krist Ishikawa Jessup and museum educator Sybil Tubbs mount one of the panels for the Parallel Barbed Wire exhibit.
Heart Mountain Interpretive Center
Exhibit curator Krist Ishikawa Jessup and museum educator Sybil Tubbs mount one of the panels for the Parallel Barbed Wire exhibit.

The Heart Mountain Interpretive Center has a new exhibit focusing on the parallels between the Japanese-American incarceration in the United States and the Holocaust.

Titled “Parallel Barbed Wire”, the exhibit tells the story of two men – Heart Mountain incarceree Clarence Matsumura and Holocaust survivor Solly Ganor.

Matsumura grew up in Los Angeles, graduated from UCLA and was working in radio before he was incarcerated at Heart Mountain with the rest of his family. Ganor was a child living in Lithuania before the Nazi invasion forced him and his family into a Jewish ghetto and then a forced-labor camp in Bavaria.

Heart Mountain’s Krist Ishikawa Jessup curated the exhibit. He said the two crossed paths while Ganor was on a death march and Matsumura was in an all Japanese American field artillery battalion. Matsumura rescued Ganor after he collapsed.

“What the title of ‘Parallel Barbed Wire’ [means], we're really using the parallels and the similarities in Clarence’s and Solly’s stories to expose the strategies of state sponsored violence that's used to target and ostracize minority communities,” said Jessup.

They lost track of each other until they were reunited in 1992 by historian Eric Saul. Ganor chronicled their relationship in his memoir, Light One Candle, which the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation has recently republished.

Jessup said their stories expose similarities in the propaganda surrounding Jews in Europe and Japanese Americans in the U.S.

“It's just things like dehumanizing..a lot of the same stereotypes revolve around the two groups...that they couldn't assimilate into their home, their home countries, they could never be loyal, their loyalty was always questioned,” he said.

The exhibit is open until the end of June. The museum is on the site of the camp where thousands of Japanese-Americans were incarcerated during World War II.

Kamila has worked for public radio stations in California, New York, France and Poland. Originally from New York City, she loves exploring new places. Kamila received her master in journalism from Columbia University. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring the surrounding areas with her two pups and husband.
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