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Heart Mountain photo
Photo from The Heart Mountain Story
Photographers:  Hansel Mieth and Otto Hagel
In August 2003 the Pacific Tsunami Museum brought together Yoshikazu Murakami, a student washed out to sea by the 1946 tsunami, and David Cook, the sailor who rescued him. Yoshikazu had headed off to Laupahoehoe School on the morning of April 1st, 1946 anxious to return home that evening for a reunion with his older brother, Isamu, who was returning home to Hawaii from internment at the Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Wyoming where he had spent the duration of the war as an American of Japanese ancestry.

Yoshikazu was saved and would later be reunited with both his older brothers, Isamu and Douglas.  Yoshikazu Murakami was rescued from a terrible natural disaster, a tsunami.   His two older brothers survived manmade disasters. Douglas lived through the horrors of combat and Isamu endured unjust imprisonment. Like Isamu, more than 110,000 other Japanese Americans, more than half native-born American citizens, were disfranchised, displaced, and concentrated in camps for the duration of World War II. In Hawaii some 1,800 Japanese Americans, primarily Buddhist priests, ministers, Japanese school principals, and community leaders, were interned. They, too were sent to camps spread across isolated regions of the continental U.S., all to have their lives changed forever, some never to return. It is often said that a picture is worth a thousand words. "The Heart Mountain Story" shows with photographs a glimpse into what life was like at this desolate internment camp in northern Wyoming.

The photographs in this exhibition were taken for Life Magazine. From their own experience, Hansel Mieth and Otto Hagel understood just what was at stake and brought more than just camera and film to the assignment. These photographs of compassion came from bringing the hand to where the heart is and communicating a kinship with the subjects.

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Last Revised July 2010