Southbury Nazis

Townspeople of Southbury, Connecticut, are seen protesting the Nazis’ attempt to build a camp in their town in 1937. The story of Southbury’s successful resistance to the Nazis was captured in the 2012 documentary, “Home of the Brave: When Southbury Said No to the Nazis.” There will be a free screening event at the Isis Theatre on Thursday. 

The Aspen Jewish Congregation and Aspen Film will present a special screening of the documentary “Home of the Brave: When Southbury Said No to the Nazis” on Thursday. 

The event will take place at the Isis Theatre from 5:30-7 p.m. and is free and open to the public. 

Originally released in 2012, “Home of the Brave” follows the historic events of how the small town of Southbury, Connecticut, stood up to the American-Nazi movement in the late 1930s and won.  

In the fall of 1937, Wolfgang Jung purchased 178 acres of land in Southbury with the intent for the German-American Bund to build a Nazi camp. Similar camps were being established around the United States by the American wing of the Nazi Party in efforts to promote anti-semitic and pro-Nazi agendas. 

The residents of Southbury — which was a peaceful farming community of a little more than 1,000 residents — recognized the hateful philosophy and practices of the Nazis and fought back against the invasion of their town. 

Once a local newspaper made the Nazis’ plans for the training camp public, Southbury residents called for a town meeting to discuss changing the town’s zoning laws. 

Organized by Rev. M.E.N. Lindsay, Rev. Felix Manley and town leaders, the meeting led to the establishment of 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 German-American pro-Nazi organization.

Southbury was the only municipality in the world to have effectively fought back against the Nazis’ intrusion into their town before the end of 1937. 

The story of Southbury’s successful defiance to the Nazi regime was not well-known until the “Home of the Brave” documentary — directed by filmmaker Scott Sniffen — came out in 2012. The story has since become part of national discussions and is said to be even more relevant now amid growing antisemitic activity in the U.S. 

Using a combination of oral history and documents from 1937, “Home of the Brave” inspired an exhibition at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum titled, “America and the Holocaust.” 

The 40-minute film will be followed by a supplemental 15-minute documentary filmed in Southbury during the 2012 premiere of “Home of the Brave.” 

Ed Edelson, a former first selectman (mayor) of Southbury who was instrumental in the development of “Home of the Brave” as a producer, will lead a post-screening discussion and Q&A as well. 

For more information or to RSVP, email ededelson@outlook.com.