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Southbury History

Southbury and German-American Bund

two men protesting the bund


On September 25, 1937, Wolfgang Jung purchased 178 acres of land in Southbury, Connecticut for the German-American Bund, intent on building a Nazi camp. Similar camps were popping up around the nation, in an effort to promote an antisemitic and pro-Nazi agenda. The residents of Southbury quickly united to fight back against this Nazi invasion of their town. Organized by the Reverend M.E.N. Lindsay, the Reverend Felix Manley, First Selectman Ed Coer and town leaders, the townspeople established a zoning commission whose first ordinance forbade land usage in the town for “military training or drilling with or without arms except by the legally constituted armed forces of the United States of America.” The ruling effectively closed Southbury to the Bund. Southbury was the only Government that stood up to Nazis before the end of 1937.

Until 2012, this important story was not well-known to many people in Southbury, let along people who lived elsewhere. In November 2012, a documentary film about the events of 1937 premiered to a full auditorium at Pomperaug High School: "Home of the Brave: When Southbury Said NO to the Nazis". Residents of the town, whether they were born and raised here or had moved here more recently, have since felt enormous pride in the story. The story has now become part of the local, state and national discussion.

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Resources and Background Information

Links to Related Documentaries

  • A 40 minute documentary “Home of the Brave: When Southbury Said NO to the Nazis” premiered in 2012. Directed by Scott Sniffen, it presents the story along with riveting oral history from those who were alive at that time including the descendants of Reverend Lindsay.
  • As the weekend of the premiere approached, it became clear this was going to be a major community event. A second documentary was prepared about the weekend which included new information not known before. Here is a link to: "Southbury Remembers and Honors the Brave".

Museums, Presentations and Archival Information

  • As a result of the Documentary, the staff of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum became aware of Southbury. In preparing a major exhibit that opened in 2018 called “Americans and the Holocaust,” they decided that the Southbury story was important enough to deserve a major display. The exhibit of 5,400 square feet covers the period from the election of Adolph Hitler until the end of World War II and chronicles how the American people learned about and responded to the rise of Nazism around the world. For more information on the exhibit go to Americans and the Holocaust.
  • In preparing for the exhibit, Americans and the Holocaust, the Museum worked with the Southbury Historic Society and the Lindsay family to gather relevant information. To see the archives of Reverend Lindsay, go to Reverend Lindsay's Papers.
  • A panel discussion was organized in the Spring of 2022 to discuss the Southbury Bund story and its significance. In addition to Rabbi Polokoff (Rabbi of Southbury’s B’nai Israel Congregation), Melinda Elliot (president of the Southbury Historical Society) and Ed Edelson (former First Selectman of Southbury), there was Rebecca Erbelding (Historian and Archivist of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum) and Arnie Bernstein (author of Swastika Nation: The Rise and Fall of the German American Bund). The hour long panel discussion was recorded and can be viewed at this link: Defiance in Connecticut: When Southbury Said No (April 26, 2022).
  • After the showing of Ken Burns’ documentary “United States and the Holocaust”, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum held a special virtual event to highlight important stories. In that event, only Southbury was given a “shout out” for standing up to the German American Bund. Here is a link to the event starting at when they talk about the German American Bund camps and the unique action by Southbury: A Divided America Responds to Nazi Persecution.
  • In March 2023, Rabbi Eric Polokoff and Ed Edelson were asked to present at a virtual meeting of the Sousa Mendes Foundation. Over 800 people registered for the 1 hour program. Rabbi Eric focused on the words of the two religious leaders who lead the Town in 1937 in their resistance. Ed Edelson talked about how the story went from its obscurity even in Southbury to being recognized as part of the national conversation on how a community can respond to those who want to spread hate and fear. Click to view the video of the session.

Educational Resources

After publishing a children’s historical fiction book called Lois’s Story: A Young Girl’s Inspiration Helps to Stop Hate and Fear, Ed Edelson and Rabbi Polokoff worked with Erin Birden (Region 15’s Teacher in Residence for Diversity and Cultural Competency) to prepare an Educator’s Guide and an Inquiry Model for using the book in fourth Grades. The book is available at the Southbury Historical Society and at the Southbury Public Library. You can view the Educator’s Guide and the Inquiry Model at these links, as well as the video from the June 2022 webinar sponsored by the CT Department of Education:

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Commemorating the 85th Anniversary of When Southbury Said No to the Nazis
November 11-13, 2022

In November 2022, the Town came together again to revisit the story, reflect on what has been learned since 2012, and explore the salient messages this story has for young and old alike. The weekend of activities was very successful. A number of recommendations for future activities to continue to commemorate the story from 1937 were presented by the Steering Committee to the Board of Selectmen.

Below are many of the materials from that weekend.

Southbury Community Trust Fund and Jewish Federation of Western Connecticut


85th anniversary logo

Materials from 85th Anniversary


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Organizations that Sponsored 85th Anniversary Commemoration


southbury Community Trust Fund logo Jewish Federation of Western CT logo



voices logo



O&G Industries, Inc. logo   Wealth Management Jones Financial Group logo  Bette Realtors


Giuliano Richardson and Sfara LLC logo   cohen and wolf logo



waterbury symphony orchestra logo



  • Aradia Farm LLC
  • Good News Restaurant and Bar
  • Heritage Village Master Association
  • Ion Bank
  • Kevin Jennings and Jeff Davis
  • On the Mend Medical Supplies & Equipment
  • Perry Kest, DDS | Southbury Dentist
  • Señor Pancho's: Southbury
  • Southbury Democratic Town Committee
  • Southbury Economic Development Commission



  • Bennett Sullivan Associates
  • Carmody Torrance Sandak & Hennessey LLP
  • Carrington Law Firm
  • Gager, Bower & Scalzo, LLP
  • Mitchell Farm
  • Southbury Plaza

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