84 Years Ago: Nazi Bund Camp Was Being Constructed in Southbury, Stopped By Brave Townspeople
Did you know that Southbury, CT was nearly the site of a Nazi camp?
Every Tuesday on the ,Ethan and Lou Show we are joined in studio by our friend and colleague Mike Allen. Mike comes on to present a segment called "The Place You Live" which takes us on a deep dive into an amazing local story. This past Tuesday, (11/9/21) we learned the fascinating story of Nazi supporters trying to establish a camp in Southbury, CT.
Below is just some of what Mike presented during that segment.
By 1937, Adolf Hitler had a firm grip on power in Germany but had not yet invaded Poland. Hitler's hateful ideas and not just permeated the German countryside, but had bled into United States among some German-American citizens.
The German American Bund was formed to spread Hitler's vision for Germany here in America and the Bund had its eyes on Southbury, CT. By 1937, the Bund already had 25 camps across the U.S. but wanted to install the country's largest and newest camp in Southbury.
At the Camps, Bund members would march, fly swastika flags next to American flags and run events for the Hitler Youth movement. Publicly, the Bund said it had no intention of conducting military training at these camps but it was a serious concern for any community where they laid their roots.
In September of 1937, a German-American Hitler supporter named Wolfgang T. Jung from Stamford, CT purchased 178 acres in Southbury that was meant to be the home of the Nazi camp. The land was in the area of Sleepy Hill Road off of Bullet Hill Road.
The camp was meant to accommodate 10,000 Bund members and construction got underway in early November of 1937 when 100 Bund members started building. They drew a lot of attention in the small town when they began purchasing food and material for the Nazi crew.
Local merchants notified then First Selectman Ed Coer. Coer reached out to respected religious leaders in the community, specifically Reverend Edgar Lindsay (South Britain Congregational Church) and Reverend Felix Manley (Southbury Federated Church now the United Church of Christ) who organized quickly.
Each Reverend gave sermons railing against the intentions of the Bund and they organized the townspeople together to devise a plan to stop construction. The plan involved developing a zoning commission to create local laws that would thwart the effort of the Nazis developing their camp in Southbury.
In December of 1937, the Town of Southbury voted to approve the formation of a zoning commission and immediately put the code into place. Written into the language were town rules that disallowed the following:
- Military training or drilling with or without firearms
- Storage of explosives in bulk
- Manufacturing of heavy chemicals
- Manufacturing of explosives
- Distillation of bones or fat
These codes were set into place specifically to rid Southbury of the German-American Bund and it worked. Construction halted and by 1939, the Bund sold the land to one of its members, who used trees on the property to make cabinets. If the Bund members had no intention of conducting military training or manufacturing of weapons, then why would they leave?
There were Southbury residents that rose to the occasion at the right time, they acted in a swift and brave manner. The people who stood against the Bund were targets of intimidation by Bund members and they rose against them despite any fear they may have felt.
Thank you to Mike Allen for his continued diligent research and amazing presentation of "The Place You Live."
Don't miss "The Place You Live" every Tuesday on the Ethan and Lou Show on I95 and be sure to catch the segments on our Ethan and Lou Podcast available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, the I-95 Rock Mobile App and on our website.
Mike also has his own great podcast called: "Amazing Tales from Off and On Connecticut's Beaten Path." That podcast is also available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google and on the Podbean app.