On October 1, 1937, Wolfgang Jung purchased 178 acres of land in Southbury, Connecticut for the German-American Bund to build a Nazi camp. The residents of Southbury fought back against this Nazi invasion of their town. Organized by the Reverend M.E.N. Lindsay, the Reverend Felix Manley, 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.
The Museum and the Jewish Federation of Western Connecticut explore this remarkable story in a discussion with Rebecca Erbelding, historian, archivist, and curator at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; Ed Edelson, former First Selectman of Southbury and the author of Lois’s Story: A Young Girl’s Inspiration Helps to Stop Hate and Fear; Arnie Bernstein, author of Swastika Nation: Fritz Kuhn & the Rise and Fall of the German-American Bund; and Melinda K. Elliott, president of the Southbury Historical Society, and moderated by Rabbi Eric Polokoff, founding Rabbi of B’nai Israel of Southbury.
Watch the program below.
This program’s original recording transcript is below. This transcription was created automatically during a live program so may contain inaccurate transcriptions of some words.
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): hi everyone, my name is Sydney Yaeger and i'm the public programs coordinator at the Museum of Jewish heritage, a living memorial to the Holocaust.
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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): Now, in its 24th year the museum is committed to the crucial mission of educating our diverse community about Jewish life and heritage, before, during and after the Holocaust.
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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): As part of that mission our programs are meant to illuminate the stories of survivors broader histories of hate and anti semitism through time and stories of resistance against injustice.
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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): today's program is a continuation of our series about Nazis and fascism and the United States.
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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): As anti semitism and other forms of hatred continue to rise in America today, it is important to understand how we can both as individuals and part of communities stand up against these movements as the town of soft very did.
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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): I would like to thank South Britain congregational Church and the Jewish federation of Western Connecticut for co presenting today's Program.
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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): joining us today are Rebecca are building at adelson arnie bernstein Belinda K Elliot and our moderator Robin Eric polakovs founding Rabbi of b'nai Israel of southbury.
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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): If you have questions specifically for our speakers during the program please put them in the zoom Q amp a box and we'll get to as many as we can, at the end of the hour Thank you so much for joining us today and i'm going to hand things over traffic holocaust.
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Rabbi Eric Polokoff: Thank you Sydney.
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Rabbi Eric Polokoff: And thanks so much for joining us i'm rabbi or polakovs of b'nai Israel in southbury about 15 years ago I was asked how our local Jewish community had recognized the town and churches here for thwarting the German American boone's efforts to establish a camp here.
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Rabbi Eric Polokoff: We have it, so we researched the story, and from that time on, we have sought to champion this extraordinary example of taking a stand against Nazi ISM.
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Rabbi Eric Polokoff: Through our efforts i've had the good fortune of meeting our panel members, each of whom I hold in high esteem it's an honor to introduce them to you.
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Rabbi Eric Polokoff: Are any bernstein who amongst other works is author of swastika nation, an extremely well researched and engrossing retelling of the history of the German American boone.
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Rabbi Eric Polokoff: Rebecca are building a story in archivist and curator at the United States Holocaust Memorial museum, who worked on the museum's exhibit Americans and the Holocaust.
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Rabbi Eric Polokoff: She is also the author of the award winning rescue board the untold story of america's efforts to save the Jews of Europe.
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Rabbi Eric Polokoff: Melinda Elliot a local historian and President of the southbury historical society whose research on the town's encounter with the Bund will be published this fall.
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Rabbi Eric Polokoff: And ED adelson a former southbury first selectman and author of lowest this story, a young girls inspiration helps to stop hate and fear.
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Rabbi Eric Polokoff: That celebrates the role of the Lindsey family and town in overcoming the book and you'll notice that each is an author, after hearing them this afternoon, I hope, what you hear will prompt you to purchase their books.
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Rabbi Eric Polokoff: Now, as I shared what brought me to this story i'd welcome from our panelists you're sharing with us your relationship to this story.
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Ed Edelson: i'll go first Erica very proud to have been one of eric's going to bring this story to life over the last 15 years, beginning with.
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Ed Edelson: His observation that I noted before, but I think it's mostly in telling the story to literally hundreds of different groups around around the country.
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Ed Edelson: That keeps inspiring me because of the response of the people when they hear the story usually first being I had no idea something like this happened in the United States.
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Ed Edelson: And then to making the connection to what's happening today, so that keeps me moving forward to continue to tell the story.
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Arnie Bernstein: i've looked into writing a comprehensive history of the bond and their sweep throughout the United States in you know learning the stories of the bun and retelling them.
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Arnie Bernstein: There were also the people who stood up and fought back against the bond and the southbury stories both captivating and inspiring and it's an important part of the book and important part of the American story on how we, you know stood up against fascism in this country.
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Rebecca Erbelding: I think my mind, is very similar to our knees, I look at American response to the Holocaust generally, and I think when a lot of people think about American response to the Holocaust.
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Rebecca Erbelding: We take a very backwards look it's really hard to not see what is coming, you know we we think about the Holocaust.
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Rebecca Erbelding: In our heads, we think of images of liberation and I think it's really important to realize that that was not inevitable, it did not have to be that way.
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Rebecca Erbelding: And so stories like the story of southbury shows you what individual could do what power individual choice has and so that that was really what drew me to the story.
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Melinda Elliott: My first encounter was helping the archivist process, the collection, but when all the information together about the bond into a good order it grabbed me, not just because of the story, but because of the people.
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Melinda Elliott: I got to see individually are how individuals played apart, it was varied individuals, all together, as a group that made a difference.
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Rabbi Eric Polokoff: Great and and I think that many of the people who are joining us this afternoon may have had the opportunity to have already seen.
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Rabbi Eric Polokoff: Scott sniff ins documentary home of the brave and for those joining us who have not seen it we we really recommend you do it's it's an outstanding piece, but in case you haven't or even in case you have.
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Rabbi Eric Polokoff: let's go back over some of the basics of of what happened and so i'm in doing this RNA if we can turn to you first um what was the German American boone didn't have to come to be and what was its message, why are we talking about overcoming this organization.
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Arnie Bernstein: With the German American bond with an outgrowth of various pro Hitler movements in the United States.
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Arnie Bernstein: The to tanya was a group that was formed in the 1920s and a lot of these groups were formed as result of World War one and the prejudices that were against Germans in America during World War one.
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Arnie Bernstein: They you know kind of banded together, there was, of course, the vent stove in society which so at to you know we have ability, the.
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Arnie Bernstein: image of Germans in America, but then there were the ones who kind of banded together and looked to Germany and what was going on in Germany as their inspiration.
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Arnie Bernstein: To tonya kind of morphed into a group called the friends of new Germany the friends of new Germany morphed into the German American bond.
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Arnie Bernstein: Fritz Kuhn, who was the leader of the bond was a German immigrant a World War one vet he claimed to have followed Hitler into the beer hall pushed of course it's good claimed a lot of things in his life so whether he was there and that we don't know.
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Arnie Bernstein: He was.
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Arnie Bernstein: most unlikely leader, you could possibly imagine.
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Arnie Bernstein: heavyset guy thick gels the German accent.
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Arnie Bernstein: and
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Arnie Bernstein: What led to the end of the bond, he was a.
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Arnie Bernstein: Terrible womanizer.
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Arnie Bernstein: He came to America, after being caught stealing from his employer in Germany he went to Mexico lived there for a while and then he and his family came to America.
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Arnie Bernstein: And went to Detroit where Henry Ford you got a job in the Henry Ford hospital as a X Ray technician he had a master's equivalency of a master's in chemistry, while he was there, he became involved with the friends of new Germany.
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Arnie Bernstein: and his contention was if they wanted to succeed as a group, they had to be more American in nature and the name the German American bond.
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Arnie Bernstein: When friends fell apart for its Kuhn saw his opportunity he had a genius for organization for all his you know Nazis me he had a genius organization and he took this dying organization of the Friends new Germany and he revamped it into the German American band.
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Arnie Bernstein: They became a nationwide.
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Arnie Bernstein: organization well known throughout the country and welfare throughout the country.
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Arnie Bernstein: Their various estimates to how many Members, there were.
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Arnie Bernstein: His claim there was you know 200,000 which, of course, was typical granddad's in that his boat.
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Arnie Bernstein: FBI thinks maybe around 15 there were various various estimates, it was probably closer to 15 plus sympathizers.
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Arnie Bernstein: The Bund was a they had a series of camps around the country of in New York or camp norland they had camp Siegfried on long island they had grafton Griffin Wisconsin just north of me i'm in Chicago they they had camp Siegfried there.
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Arnie Bernstein: And they they had various.
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Arnie Bernstein: Other organizations, they had you know stores they had newspapers all sorts of things at their height in 1939 they had a rally in Madison square garden 20,000 people packed in there, but outside 100,000 people who wanted to kill them they.
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Arnie Bernstein: Once they got.
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Arnie Bernstein: Fiorello laguardia was furious they had the right to speak, you have a right to be obnoxious in this country but Fiorello laguardia was furious that this has happened in his city.
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Arnie Bernstein: So he and Thomas Dewey who was then the prosecutor this before he became governor they concocted a way to how do we get Fritz Kuhn.
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Arnie Bernstein: They looked in the same way, they got Al Capone they looked into his taxes they discovered that the bundy had not pay taxes on a lot of things, but.
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Arnie Bernstein: Do we also said this is is peanuts let's look for something bigger eventually they found that rich Kuhn, was a womanizer, as I said before, and he was using Bund money to fund his romances they got him an embezzlement it was that simple.
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Arnie Bernstein: After he was sent to sing sing the been kind of flopped around trying to find new leadership, they didn't have anyone is magnetic is Kuhn and then, when World War one broke out the button fell apart.
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Rabbi Eric Polokoff: And arnie you mentioned the camps, what happened at these camps and and, obviously, the thing is going to be a camp in South area.
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Rabbi Eric Polokoff: Right what happened with camps.
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Arnie Bernstein: Now they were extensively family retreats and you would see the typical things you would see at any kind of family retreat, there were you know.
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Arnie Bernstein: You know parties, they were you know gatherings they had you know a lot of you know Oktoberfest kind of things they had children's camps as well with.
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Arnie Bernstein: cabins for the kids they you know with swimming and archery and all these kinds of things that was the surface.
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Arnie Bernstein: beneath them, though they were Nazi training camps, there was swastikas everywhere, there were speeches with the there were marches at Camp norland.
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Arnie Bernstein: Excuse me at Camp sick in long island they had names like Hitler street and gerbils street lining the.
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Arnie Bernstein: The various camp at the kids would be taken on marches in the middle of the night and.
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Arnie Bernstein: They put the effect the kids were the ones who built the caps the parents had no say in the matter, they you know they they were going to use unions usual for the Jews anyway right, and so they had the children build the camps and there's also a lot of sexual abuse that went on.
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Arnie Bernstein: By the leaders with with the girls at these camps, it was on one hand, it was you know we are here for Germans and the German American blunders, on the other hand, it was a very dark and scary place.
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Rabbi Eric Polokoff: And and and predatory and.
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Rabbi Eric Polokoff: Yes, hi.
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Rabbi Eric Polokoff: Rebecca, how does the been sort of fit into life in 1930s America, you know as a larger thing.
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Rebecca Erbelding: Well 1930s America is a really complicated place and I think you need to look back.
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Rebecca Erbelding: To the 1920s to like really understand the context of the 30s.
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Rebecca Erbelding: So the United States after World War one is incredibly isolationist we have new laws that are based in eugenics the idea that some people are biologically better than others.
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Rebecca Erbelding: Anti Semitism is on the rise, throughout the 1920s and 30s there's a new Ku Klux Klan that has millions of Members in the 1920s, and so, in terms of kind of racial ideology.
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Rebecca Erbelding: The boone is on the extreme end, but they are not the only one, there are a lot of really mainstream ideas here about race and racism that are pretty prevalent in the 20s and 30s.
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Rebecca Erbelding: Many Americans, though in the 1930s or distrustful of the Nazis there actually is a lot of information that Americans creed about what was happening in Germany, about the early laws.
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Rebecca Erbelding: Early Nazi was kicking us out of the civil service boycotting Jewish businesses and their marches and rallies throughout the country in the spring of 1933 opposing the Nazis.
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Rebecca Erbelding: But they're opposing not just not the anti semitism they're putting what they see as German military and that in that carries on throughout the 30s, you know as Germany starts to re militarize.
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Rebecca Erbelding: is maybe not because of anti semitism, but because of deep isolationism that was prevalent in the United States Americans don't want to get involved in a war.
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Rebecca Erbelding: And so, when we think about the blend through the lens of the Holocaust, I think it's important to consider that some of the people who liked the book and.
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Rebecca Erbelding: liked the patriotism that they saw they liked his army said the permission to be proud of their German heritage which during World War one you know, there had been a lot of.
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Rebecca Erbelding: prejudice against Germany and attack on German American and so the boone gave them this kind of pride back.
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Rebecca Erbelding: And they liked the feeling of power that being part of the boone gave them they had uniforms, there were marches, there were talks of you know, becoming a power again becoming dominant again.
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Rebecca Erbelding: And some of the people who oppose the book and may not have a post their anti semitism necessarily but they opposed what they thought, as a German incursion into the United States.
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Rebecca Erbelding: and militarism militarism both of Nazi Germany and of the book, and so it really is a kind of complicated period and it's not just that people are opposing or joining the bond because of anti semitism.
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Rabbi Eric Polokoff: Yes, and now the House affairs.
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Rabbi Eric Polokoff: Committee actually an American accent is established in part because of the book.
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Rebecca Erbelding: yeah it's established in 1938 by a Congressman named Martin DS and DS is going after both fascists, including the blonde and the silver shirts, which was another paramilitary group and Communists.
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Rebecca Erbelding: These did not like FDR you did not like the New Deal, and so part of what this committee was investigating where these supposed Communist to were infiltrating New Deal programs.
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Rebecca Erbelding: So he's trying to have it both ways, and it is to some extent a very political committee, but they are going, after the bone again because of this militarism, not necessarily just the anti semitism, but because of this potential for.
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Rebecca Erbelding: German.
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Rebecca Erbelding: Not the kind of invasion into the US, if not militarily but culturally that that Congress is trying to oppose at this point.
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Rabbi Eric Polokoff: So um so.
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Rabbi Eric Polokoff: Interestingly enough, so we have a sense of something of the band, and something of America and the boone comes to southbury 1937 Belinda what is southbury like in 1937.
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Melinda Elliott: Well southbury at that time was a transitional town.
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Melinda Elliott: um Sydney if you can get the thing the picture and the previous decade southbury was home to to large factory I know it's hard to believe in this little town, but we had these gigantic factories.
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Melinda Elliott: After they shut down and 1926 the many workers had to move away so where they can find work, the.
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Melinda Elliott: left side of the old families that were here from 200 years ago and included new immigrants, which was 32% of the town had at least one immigrants in each in each household.
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Melinda Elliott: The new newly page state road through now brought tourists and, of course, tourists need a place to eat and asleep, and also, we had to have gas stations.
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Melinda Elliott: which run up in various parts of town, along with auto repair shops now South very attracted a lot of new residents at that time, including the state veterinarian the lead designer for stuff Thomas clocks and a large selection of new Yorkers lawyers doctors and celebrities.
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Melinda Elliott: southbury was experienced and overcoming hardships and reinventing the Community to survive and to grow.
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Melinda Elliott: Members of the German American urban arrived in secret to purchase the land and South during begin their camp site.
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Melinda Elliott: The town was virtually on aware, when the town bone members came to town, for the first two Sundays they been numbers, mostly avoided the town and stayed on the back roads.
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Melinda Elliott: And when the residents woke up one morning and found nation's largest pro Nazi camp started in southbury my German American been they were very shocked and very surprised because most people had no idea, this was going on.
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Melinda Elliott: So, of course, all the newspapers in the State had to send out the reporters and the first question, the reporters would ask the got somebody and say how do you feel about the goal and being here.
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Melinda Elliott: And most always they had the response no comment because nobody knew exactly how to answer that question at that time it was it was such a new experience something they never expected to happen itself bear.
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Melinda Elliott: The official the the top first to town official the town officials said that they would be proud of me to set to say when everybody decided that they knew what they wanted to talk about.
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Melinda Elliott: So anyway, immediately after the newspapers.
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Melinda Elliott: were full of resolutions from different organizations that that showed that the bond was not a nice thing to have in Connecticut.
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Melinda Elliott: In fact, the governor that week, the first week the Governor of Connecticut ended up with what they say an avalanche of letters protesting, the one, so it wasn't just southbury that was protesting, it was the whole state.
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Melinda Elliott: did not want to be the gateway Community for the for the one.
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Melinda Elliott: So numerous articles and editorials.
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Melinda Elliott: had previously appeared about the blind, but they also appeared at this reprinted and came back so people knew what was going on with the been.
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Melinda Elliott: Overall, the town waited for their leaders to show some type of reaction.
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Melinda Elliott: However, the official stance listed in the newspaper was from from the official saying if they mind their own business will mind ours.
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Melinda Elliott: which, of course, the town wasn't sure how to handle that is like, how do you how are you supposed to feel when the leaders don't say anything and 11 to an editor a lady called well she wrote herself as a taxpayer on the mother stated, we cannot depend on the town leadership to do anything.
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Melinda Elliott: What they didn't know at that time was that ED core the first selectman of the town already had a plan of action.
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Melinda Elliott: He learned about the ball on the first day they came in town Henry McCarthy, who had a visit from the board members, he went directly to ED core and told him what was going on.
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Melinda Elliott: So, and then in that first week at core was very busy he contacted the FBI the State police and town leaders and surrounding communities.
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Melinda Elliott: And he learned from the FBI that the most effective way to stop the bond was to create a zoning code so two days after the the incident was of the newspaper, there was a notice in the news in the newspaper that a town meeting had been called for zoning to elect a zoning Commission.
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Melinda Elliott: So core always held belief that the town could handle their own problems, as they came up and to do it legally he contended that the newspapers sort of stir up trouble.
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Melinda Elliott: So course perceived lack of leadership created a vacuum that others tried to fail.
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Melinda Elliott: Reverend Wednesday felt that his congregation of the town needed direction.
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Melinda Elliott: And all the facts about the bond he didn't want to hide anything he wants to put it all on the table and let everybody figure out to understand what was going on.
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Melinda Elliott: While attending yell Lindsay attended lectures by not see speakers and had the opportunity to have a say about what he thought about the Nazi leaders.
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Melinda Elliott: And about the Nazis, it was well aware also then in Germany, the pastors were being killed and the churches will were being destroyed.
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Melinda Elliott: And that's not something he wanted to happen in America definitely not and southbury Lindsay took out his type or and began writing letters to the newspapers, the magazine's the Congressman and the State Governor.
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Melinda Elliott: Lindsey along with Reverend manly did some.
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Melinda Elliott: focus their sermons on the Nazis in loveland.
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Melinda Elliott: To give people an idea of what was going on both sermons made headlines in the news, not only in Connecticut but also across the country.
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Melinda Elliott: This disturbed Fritz Kuhn, the boom later in fact he wrote and he said simultaneous simultaneous attacks come from a Jewish judge in New Jersey and from a tiny community in Connecticut.
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Melinda Elliott: southbury was already making a difference.
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Rabbi Eric Polokoff: Linda Thank you ED i'm Reverend Lindsey um, why was he such a hero.
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Ed Edelson: But i'd say mostly because of his courage, because it's always the easy thing to just put your head down let these events go.
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Ed Edelson: Over you and and not get involved, and I think as Melinda discusses or mentions, you know the sermon he really went all out and I encourage people to read the sermon.
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Ed Edelson: I would also say and encourage everyone to go see the wonderful exhibit at the Holocaust Museum because, again, a lot of the work by Rebecca.
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Ed Edelson: You see how much information was out there about the bond and what and and Nazi ISM.
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Ed Edelson: But just because information is out there galvanizing people to take action is a whole nother you know quantum leap.
00:25:45.000 --> 00:25:56.910
Ed Edelson: And somehow, and again I don't think we'll ever know the whole story Lindsey had the capability within the town to put himself out there and galvanize the Community to respond.
00:25:58.020 --> 00:26:09.480
Ed Edelson: You know I always love that phrase a leader without followers is just a man out for a walk and he did Lindsey with his heroism to put himself out there.
00:26:09.930 --> 00:26:21.420
Ed Edelson: Take the risk study did again, this goes back to what we made earlier we look back on history, a lot of times and think it's inevitable that things just worked out the way they did he had no assurance that.
00:26:21.960 --> 00:26:34.800
Ed Edelson: His life would not be in danger, by the actions that he took and yet he felt that he had to take a stand and that's why our Meyer took his courage and he's a hero to me.
00:26:36.090 --> 00:26:51.420
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: The typewriter that Reverend the ED that reference that Reverend Lindsay typed it on apparently was a bit of a pack rat because the typewriters at the Holocaust Museum and among the various artifacts the sermon kept in a.
00:26:52.620 --> 00:26:55.290
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: His kept them in a box right.
00:26:56.520 --> 00:26:57.480
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: Safe deposit box.
00:26:58.590 --> 00:27:10.770
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: In that sermon and I currently just to say from from a Jewish point of view and as Rebecca pointed out, a lot of the anti Buena activities were not necessarily antique because of.
00:27:11.790 --> 00:27:21.030
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: Some revulsion against anti semitism what Reverend Lindsay doesn't that sermon is he says that to be anti Semitic is to be anti Christ.
00:27:21.810 --> 00:27:43.290
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: And so, he makes a very explicit reference that way which makes incredible reading the these many years later, so Rebecca the sermons there the typewriters there um why southbury, why was southbury included how how was what's happening in South very different than other places.
00:27:43.980 --> 00:27:56.640
Rebecca Erbelding: Well, I also want to add in not only does he poses as anti Christian, he says that anti Semitism is anti American which you know if you look in American history anti Semitism is baked in.
00:27:58.050 --> 00:28:14.760
Rebecca Erbelding: American anti semitism rises and falls throughout the years, but it is fairly constant and on the rise, and so, for a minister to come out Reverend to come out and say no anti Semitism is anti American that is a very strong statement to make in 1937.
00:28:15.780 --> 00:28:23.130
Rebecca Erbelding: So three is is really, really interesting arnie talked about the locations where some of the other camps where.
00:28:23.460 --> 00:28:32.850
Rebecca Erbelding: You know camp norland in New Jersey had 8000 visitors justin July 1937 the same year that the Nazis try to come to South very.
00:28:33.510 --> 00:28:41.850
Rebecca Erbelding: camp Siegfried and yank and on long island was about the same size that southbury would have been that the camp and stuff for one event.
00:28:42.300 --> 00:28:49.590
Rebecca Erbelding: And that was a very popular place there was a train direct from grand Central Station on the weekends, the camps big very special.
00:28:50.220 --> 00:28:59.100
Rebecca Erbelding: Thousands of people went every weekend there was a swimming pool and picnic grounds and parties and the town of yep hank largely.
00:29:00.060 --> 00:29:04.830
Rebecca Erbelding: wasn't thrilled about having them their boat wasn't trying to kick them out, and then you in any way.
00:29:05.700 --> 00:29:11.040
Rebecca Erbelding: An important consideration here that I should have mentioned before, is that this is also in the middle of the Great Depression.
00:29:11.820 --> 00:29:19.470
Rebecca Erbelding: And in the way that y'all think was thinking about it, these people, these are tourists coming, and they will spend their money.
00:29:19.800 --> 00:29:25.410
Rebecca Erbelding: You know they'll come to local restaurants, there was a farmer who let people park in his field for 25 cents.
00:29:26.100 --> 00:29:35.160
Rebecca Erbelding: Businesses were advertising in the newspaper, knowing that this was a way to help their Community during the depression and so southbury is actually.
00:29:35.940 --> 00:29:43.320
Rebecca Erbelding: Turning that down turning that kind of economic opportunity of having all these people come deliberately turning it down.
00:29:44.190 --> 00:29:52.620
Rebecca Erbelding: And we also know that the reverberations of that decision for yeah thanks for the camp on long island have reverberated to the present day.
00:29:53.610 --> 00:30:01.890
Rebecca Erbelding: The New York Times in 2015 discovered that there were still protective covenants in the area where the camp and Ben and yet I think.
00:30:02.220 --> 00:30:16.350
Rebecca Erbelding: That made it clear by laws that said that Homeowners had to be of German extraction, to be able to buy homes there, and so that legacy of racism and anti semitism, that the boat brought to yep hang.
00:30:17.250 --> 00:30:23.760
Rebecca Erbelding: it's something that the Community there has had to deal with for a long time and southbury is is.
00:30:24.960 --> 00:30:40.470
Rebecca Erbelding: Specifically, saying we don't want any of the money that they can bring because we do not want their ideology they're anti Christian they're anti American they do not belong in our town, and that is a very strong statement to make, particularly in 1937.
00:30:42.660 --> 00:30:49.050
Ed Edelson: Eric, can I just know there's an important question in the chat I think Melinda and I could hopefully clarify.
00:30:49.620 --> 00:30:55.680
Ed Edelson: The there were two votes that happened at the town meeting and again, we should point out the town meeting was attended by.
00:30:56.640 --> 00:31:07.380
Ed Edelson: A very large percentage of the people living in the town, the first thought was on whether or not to establish zoning ordinances and there were many people in town, who were very much against zone.
00:31:07.890 --> 00:31:15.960
Ed Edelson: As a farming community at that time our understanding is many of the farmers were opposed to the idea of maybe the residents were opposed to the idea of zoning.
00:31:16.560 --> 00:31:24.300
Ed Edelson: But there was a second vote on a resolution resolution that when was addressed to the President and the Governor of the State of Connecticut.
00:31:24.780 --> 00:31:40.260
Ed Edelson: To basically say stop this madness from proceeding and again this is 1937 is before a lot of people are speaking out and that we understand was unanimous so two different votes, with a different emphasis, if you will.
00:31:42.840 --> 00:31:44.010
Ed Edelson: blend did I get that right.
00:31:44.610 --> 00:31:45.900
Melinda Elliott: You did you got it good.
00:31:49.170 --> 00:32:00.210
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: So with this history and we're going to go quickly because of the time, but there's another element here of southbury working to.
00:32:01.350 --> 00:32:05.100
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: disrupt the establishment of the camp bye.
00:32:06.750 --> 00:32:17.850
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: bye the various blue laws which were enacted of of actually utilizing them as a way of trying to prevent facts from being established on on the ground so.
00:32:18.570 --> 00:32:31.860
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: that the good people of southbury were taking every effort, including some things which absolutely stretched and then some legality to try to.
00:32:32.370 --> 00:32:52.350
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: prevent the the boone from establishing a presence here i'm now now ED you let's think and actually all of us, but I like to begin with you some of the lessons from this it's an extraordinary story and and as Rebecca and arnie explain.
00:32:54.420 --> 00:32:57.360
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: Why So why did you write.
00:32:58.680 --> 00:33:01.770
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: Your book lois a story, and I know that.
00:33:03.270 --> 00:33:08.550
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: And again small plug Melinda has a book coming out later this year i'm.
00:33:11.190 --> 00:33:12.660
Ed Edelson: Sure well i'll take it.
00:33:13.230 --> 00:33:15.120
Ed Edelson: But you know, again, you know.
00:33:15.720 --> 00:33:24.450
Ed Edelson: rabbi Eric and I are story goes back to you know 2007 2008 and then producing this movie in 2012 and.
00:33:25.380 --> 00:33:34.350
Ed Edelson: You know I had no thought of ever writing a story children's story, but when I went to the exhibit at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in DC.
00:33:35.160 --> 00:33:45.630
Ed Edelson: To see the exhibit open on April of 2018 I believe and was leaving the bookstore and going through the bookstore looking for books from my own grandchildren.
00:33:46.290 --> 00:33:54.300
Ed Edelson: It occurred to me that some of the the really important themes of the story, are not really accessible to young people through the documentary.
00:33:54.840 --> 00:34:03.270
Ed Edelson: And I think that's when or I know that's when I said what would be a really good idea to have a children's story about this would go maybe into all of the.
00:34:03.780 --> 00:34:18.240
Ed Edelson: Various aspects that arnie and Rebecca and Linda gone into and that's where the idea came about and then and I don't know if Sydney can bring up the picture of lowest maybe Well, this is the book cover and.
00:34:19.440 --> 00:34:23.520
Ed Edelson: i'm very proud of the fact that I was a finalist in the Connecticut book awards.
00:34:24.150 --> 00:34:35.490
Ed Edelson: But in all of our work on the film we got the opportunity to read meet remembering lindsay's daughter, who picture on the Left shows her when she was about 10 years old, living in South very.
00:34:36.090 --> 00:34:43.770
Ed Edelson: And the picture on the right is when she came to South Korea in 2012 for the premiere of the documentary obviously then at five years old.
00:34:44.400 --> 00:34:56.760
Ed Edelson: And, and I was really taken with lois and and her perception about how important that story was and Eric mentioned about the typewriter being kept well it's not just that.
00:34:57.420 --> 00:35:06.510
Ed Edelson: Reverend Lindsay was a pack rat his children were pack rats and they kept everything, and although hardly anybody in southbury knew this story.
00:35:06.930 --> 00:35:17.160
Ed Edelson: This family that moved to Southwest Virginia they remembered the story they knew their father and grandfather was a hero, and what he did was important.
00:35:17.850 --> 00:35:37.050
Ed Edelson: And locally within their community, they would tell that story, and so the more I learned about lowest and her involvement with it, it just seemed like a natural spokesperson, would be to tell the story through her eyes and the fear that she felt for the German American been.
00:35:38.100 --> 00:35:48.180
Ed Edelson: You know she didn't see it is just fun and games she saw quickly as a threat to our family and to our Community and that's one of the things I wanted to convey in the story.
00:35:50.550 --> 00:35:55.230
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: And how has this story influenced southbury.
00:35:56.760 --> 00:36:07.020
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: And to answer one of the questions in the chat southbury was for a very short period of time at the central at the Center of the of the national debate in 1937.
00:36:07.710 --> 00:36:21.000
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: The nation honored southbury as sort of the place of the year in in 1938 and if you visit Melinda at the historical society you'll see their scripts.
00:36:21.390 --> 00:36:37.800
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: about things from NBC and the New York Times and others weighed in on what was happening in southbury but then it died down very quickly, but having brought the subject back on How has it ED from from your sense how has this influenced.
00:36:39.270 --> 00:36:41.880
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: us now, what do we do with the story now.
00:36:43.350 --> 00:36:48.930
Ed Edelson: Well it's been you know quite an interesting ride, I can I would go back to the premiere and.
00:36:49.590 --> 00:36:55.620
Ed Edelson: Back in 2012 and I really think it was something that brought the Community together and brought a lot of pride.
00:36:56.220 --> 00:37:05.160
Ed Edelson: to know that this story took place here whether you had multiple generations living here before, or if you just moved to the town recently and so when.
00:37:05.820 --> 00:37:15.960
Ed Edelson: We had you know literally thousands of people see the film in the first couple of weeks, when it was available, including filling up 1000 seat auditorium for the premiere.
00:37:16.920 --> 00:37:34.260
Ed Edelson: I think everybody felt that pride, but these have been some pretty diverse of years since 2012 and we've seen a lot of different elements and themes let's say appear in our Community, including a swastika is appearing from time to time.
00:37:34.350 --> 00:37:46.530
Ed Edelson: The incidence of anti Semitism in high school, as well as racism in the high school and this story becomes a touchstone to help people come back and think about that.
00:37:47.100 --> 00:38:02.310
Ed Edelson: Most recently, and if Sydney can go to the last picture in 2021 we saw some protesters come to kind of our public corner here in South Korea with a flag that displayed swastikas on it.
00:38:03.420 --> 00:38:11.640
Ed Edelson: And a very hateful display many other banners this was not the only one, but this was recognized by our.
00:38:13.110 --> 00:38:31.620
Ed Edelson: selectmen or Board of selectmen, that is, be quite honest, is a republican dominated group, but they recognize this doesn't have a place in South Korea and again people referred back to the story for it back to their parents or grandparents who signed that resolution, I referred to.
00:38:32.820 --> 00:38:53.460
Ed Edelson: To say that this is a menace, and this needs to be obliterated they use that as their way of expressing that this is a reprehensible sign and has no place in South Korea, so I think it's a very useful story for us to keep coming back and grounding ourselves in our.
00:38:54.510 --> 00:38:58.320
Ed Edelson: In our morality or ethics of what has happened here before.
00:39:00.870 --> 00:39:02.250
Arnie Bernstein: I think if if I could.
00:39:02.520 --> 00:39:15.390
Arnie Bernstein: Please yeah it's important to realize that Reverend Lindsay was putting this height on the line here at one point, Gerhard coons who was one of Kuhn rich coons it Q amp Z he.
00:39:16.320 --> 00:39:22.650
Arnie Bernstein: One of his top lieutenants came to revelations his house to try to sell him is like you'd be selling this i'm sure.
00:39:23.220 --> 00:39:35.790
Arnie Bernstein: Why the Why would be perfectly fine to have this camp in the town and he said something to the effect that you know you this is for our blond haired blue eyed Syrian children as if on cue.
00:39:37.170 --> 00:39:45.870
Arnie Bernstein: The three children of revenue Lindsay all blond haired blue eyed came running through the room laughing and joking certain Reverend Lindsay himself left.
00:39:46.350 --> 00:39:58.290
Arnie Bernstein: But he was receiving letters from people who are really frightened one was from a hotel stationary in New York and the man detailed what life had been like for him back in Nazi Germany.
00:39:59.490 --> 00:40:09.690
Arnie Bernstein: It was, and he was genuinely frightening in this was gentleman not Jewish and his his father was a pastor was killed his sister's been.
00:40:10.950 --> 00:40:22.770
Arnie Bernstein: brutally sexually assaulted his mother died because she couldn't get medical care and he had managed to get to America, but he was he was still frightened that he was said he was forced to join the bond in order to keep his businesses going.
00:40:24.390 --> 00:40:40.290
Arnie Bernstein: And there was a revolutionary in fact was so protective of this man that he scratched out the name you with a heavy marker so that he kept the letter but scratch out the name, so people would know who he was there was another letter that came he destroyed because it was just so terrifying.
00:40:41.610 --> 00:40:55.320
Arnie Bernstein: There was an incident where black cars were driving to southbury I think some of you might have more information on that than I did and didn't allow us feel that somebody had possibly come into the House at night, they weren't sure what had happened.
00:40:56.340 --> 00:41:04.890
Ed Edelson: Well, she touched when she came up to the premiere we hadn't known this before, but she when we took her to her the parsonage where she used to live.
00:41:05.640 --> 00:41:13.980
Ed Edelson: She related that they had ransacked the House but didn't take anything, implying that they were looking for something like these letters that aren't he's referring to.
00:41:14.880 --> 00:41:27.000
Ed Edelson: And then went on a lowest went on to remind or to recall how our Father took her up into the attic to where he hid the letters that people from all over the US and further.
00:41:27.420 --> 00:41:35.400
Ed Edelson: wrote him and he would hide them in the rafters in the attic so they would be hard to find him as even though she was only 10 years old, he.
00:41:35.850 --> 00:41:50.820
Ed Edelson: entrusted me with that information so that she would know it, so there was fear there that I think it's hard for us to recognize sometimes was going on in the US prior to World War Two again we think that's that fear was only in Europe.
00:41:52.080 --> 00:41:56.460
Rebecca Erbelding: Well, and just to jump in here I mean that fear is here in the US.
00:41:57.810 --> 00:42:12.300
Rebecca Erbelding: But we have to remember the business before there's a 1937 so Germany has not taken Austria or this to date and land Kristallnacht has not happened yet, the outbreak of World War Two has not begun yet and won't for another two years after.
00:42:12.960 --> 00:42:22.080
Rebecca Erbelding: What happened in South very happen, and so there is this gradual ramp up that will get even more serious and it still takes the United States.
00:42:22.650 --> 00:42:43.290
Rebecca Erbelding: For years after southbury after 1937 to actually fully engage in the war and fully commit to going after the Nazis and so you have what's happening in South ferry and all of that fear is happening, even before a lot of the kind of crazy are erupting in Europe.
00:42:44.910 --> 00:42:55.770
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: And Rebecca within a also within this context, so what is the significance of the story visa V early warning signs of genocide.
00:42:56.610 --> 00:43:02.430
Rebecca Erbelding: I think this is a great story to look at early warning signs for genocide and really having disrupted them, so if you think about.
00:43:02.730 --> 00:43:10.770
Rebecca Erbelding: kind of the early warning signs that lead to genocide genocide often begin with work with marginalizing humanizing and then with laws.
00:43:11.190 --> 00:43:15.930
Rebecca Erbelding: And the leaders of these movements that become genocidal count on nobody standing up.
00:43:16.380 --> 00:43:25.260
Rebecca Erbelding: And i'm not saying that the wound was genocidal in the United States, or that they would have ever had gotten that support there, but the words that they are using.
00:43:25.770 --> 00:43:35.190
Rebecca Erbelding: The words that Fritz Cuban is using our about taking over the country there are about detox the day in which fascism will rise again in the US.
00:43:35.700 --> 00:43:42.300
Rebecca Erbelding: And so the south three story reminds us that you don't have to wait until there is a nationwide prices to act.
00:43:42.870 --> 00:43:51.180
Rebecca Erbelding: If you see a crisis in your neighborhood that you can address it then and sometimes you're addressing it in something that seems as benign as zoning law.
00:43:52.110 --> 00:44:10.350
Rebecca Erbelding: Sometimes that is enough to disrupt this kind of ideology, but it is really important to to decide what kind of ideology, you want, in your midst, and what kind of ideology you don't and southbury was really on the forefront of saying, this does not belong in our town.
00:44:11.220 --> 00:44:18.300
Arnie Bernstein: And just to bounce off that it's important to remember that the vast majority of German Americans were very much against the German American blend.
00:44:18.750 --> 00:44:32.880
Arnie Bernstein: Though as I was saying before there was a camp in grafton Wisconsin, which is about 40 miles outside of milwaukee and the German American society there were furious about this in fact they built a park.
00:44:33.900 --> 00:44:44.730
Arnie Bernstein: shuras parks, a ch er Z which was named after a German immigrant who had been a hero during the civil war and they put it deliberately near the.
00:44:45.720 --> 00:44:56.190
Arnie Bernstein: near camp venture open so that, when the German American born would march from the train to the camp there, they would see this, and they would see people who would stand up to it when they.
00:44:56.670 --> 00:45:03.060
Arnie Bernstein: Had you know, the German American bonus, you know standing outside with their uniform the mayor of the town said, if you want to wear a uniform.
00:45:03.720 --> 00:45:12.330
Arnie Bernstein: We have perfectly fine police department here, why don't you just join the navy or something like that they were very much fighting what was going on at Camp and Stephen.
00:45:13.500 --> 00:45:31.590
Arnie Bernstein: It people stood up German American stood up the you know it would be part of you know what I think was interesting that the book it can't happen here by Sinclair Lewis, which takes place in Vermont but the town that he describes is very much like southbury.
00:45:33.300 --> 00:45:44.610
Arnie Bernstein: And in that in that novel I think everybody should read this novel it the fascism takes hold, but there is a small band that sticks together and fights against this.
00:45:45.960 --> 00:45:56.820
Arnie Bernstein: And southbury was that in real life and good people stood up and continue to stand up to these things, and as long as you know, I mean.
00:45:57.780 --> 00:46:07.950
Arnie Bernstein: I don't remember, Sir, but the definition of evil is good people doing nothing, what people are standing up and we're seeing evidence of that every day sure these movements are there.
00:46:08.880 --> 00:46:18.360
Arnie Bernstein: I went to high school in skokie Illinois when the Nazis, they were a bunch of mopes wanted to march through skokie Illinois the.
00:46:19.080 --> 00:46:31.620
Arnie Bernstein: People stand up and that's really the important lesson of southbury and beyond, is that when people stand up these elements can be defeated I don't know but certainly.
00:46:33.270 --> 00:46:34.410
Arnie Bernstein: put back in their boxes.
00:46:35.610 --> 00:46:44.550
Ed Edelson: And if I could spring off of that one of the opportunities that rabbi Eric and I have had is to work with a local educator who focuses on.
00:46:45.630 --> 00:46:53.070
Ed Edelson: diversity and cultural competence and she took my little book and using the The anti.
00:46:54.210 --> 00:46:55.530
Ed Edelson: Racism framework.
00:46:56.550 --> 00:47:04.230
Ed Edelson: took the book and made it into a curriculum for fourth graders over a four day or five day period and one of the key.
00:47:04.740 --> 00:47:15.570
Ed Edelson: themes we try to get across in the educators guide is to use this story to talk about really many things, but two of them being being an upstanding not just being a bystander.
00:47:16.080 --> 00:47:22.650
Ed Edelson: And the other that we've all been talking about is the importance of words, the words that Reverend Lindsay used in this particular case.
00:47:23.280 --> 00:47:29.250
Ed Edelson: And for those who have seen the documentary and, obviously, for those who will now definitely see the documentary.
00:47:30.240 --> 00:47:41.670
Ed Edelson: Some of the most important words to me, or when rabbi Eric says that we often forget how important words are and Lindsay and others or others involved.
00:47:42.660 --> 00:47:58.320
Ed Edelson: use words to galvanize a community and to me that's, the most important part of this story and we just need more communities that will find that kind of voice to move forward, hopefully, through teaching it to younger children will see that in the future.
00:47:59.370 --> 00:47:59.790
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: When.
00:48:00.210 --> 00:48:01.230
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: Please go right ahead.
00:48:01.590 --> 00:48:09.960
Rebecca Erbelding: I was gonna say I think I think South Korea is also really important when we look at the history as a whole it's not just an object lesson in in standing up and in word.
00:48:10.440 --> 00:48:18.960
Rebecca Erbelding: But it also really informs us about American response, the Holocaust generally so we I think there's often a perception that Americans didn't know anything.
00:48:19.380 --> 00:48:27.120
Rebecca Erbelding: didn't do anything or or that we knew everything that was happening and didn't do anything and the southbury story shows us that there was.
00:48:27.510 --> 00:48:40.590
Rebecca Erbelding: A strong recognition in a small town in Connecticut of what the northeastern for with a blunt stood for and that this was something that they did not want, and they stood up Indo American did know a lot of information and they did think about it.
00:48:40.950 --> 00:48:55.410
Arnie Bernstein: In fact, they were a subject of probably the most popular medium in America, the newsreel and a whole newsreel series was done on southbury they came in, they reenacted some of the things as well, but it was a coast to coast story.
00:48:57.300 --> 00:48:58.800
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: But yes and.
00:49:00.630 --> 00:49:09.450
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: When you buy melinda's book you'll get the backstory of how much they they were paid and and when they wanted to do it and not want to do it.
00:49:10.440 --> 00:49:23.250
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: But it I realized that, and this is great that our our is going so quickly um and Sydney had told us over 600 people are joining us today, which is wonderful.
00:49:24.480 --> 00:49:28.950
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: what's next for for getting the story out of Rebecca.
00:49:30.300 --> 00:49:33.000
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: The Holocaust Museum and its scholarship.
00:49:34.350 --> 00:49:38.010
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: And the story, can you share where you where you all are headed or.
00:49:38.610 --> 00:49:52.770
Rebecca Erbelding: Sure, so the exhibit Americans and the Holocaust in Washington is still on display So if you can make it to Washington, you can come and see Reverend lindsay's typewriter see some of the features of the the advertisement for the town meeting.
00:49:54.090 --> 00:50:00.270
Rebecca Erbelding: In 1937 on display at the museum, we also have it completely.
00:50:01.290 --> 00:50:17.280
Rebecca Erbelding: digitize Reverend lindsay's collection and I can put that in the chat to everybody in case you want to add suggested you do read his sermon and look at some of the photos from that time, we also have a traveling version of this exhibition that is traveling to public libraries nationwide.
00:50:18.450 --> 00:50:25.620
Rebecca Erbelding: This is a story that that we hope to continue and that we hope to promote from the Museum in Washington.
00:50:26.610 --> 00:50:33.330
Arnie Bernstein: And I do believe burning nusrat yeah the newsreel I think is on YouTube I know i've seen it there, so it should be readily available on YouTube.
00:50:35.220 --> 00:50:37.470
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: And and arnie your your upcoming project.
00:50:38.460 --> 00:50:54.390
Arnie Bernstein: i'm actually going to be in a German PPs their version of public television i'm going to be in the documentary this summer we filmed it last spring they're interested in the story worldwide, and this is a documentary Germans are interested.
00:50:55.410 --> 00:51:08.340
Arnie Bernstein: In what happened here, so this is a documentary going to be broadcast in Germany on the German American born on Fritz Kuhn and hopefully will be receiving American distribution as well.
00:51:11.550 --> 00:51:12.000
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: and
00:51:13.380 --> 00:51:15.930
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: Melinda your upcoming book.
00:51:17.010 --> 00:51:27.570
Melinda Elliott: Yes, you've been very good about advertising and giving little tidbits of what to look forward to my basic premise was to take the the situation.
00:51:28.080 --> 00:51:43.530
Melinda Elliott: And look at it from the viewpoint of people in town each individual and how they came together and their their fights along the way, and and the funny things that happen the the book is called no swastikas in southbury.
00:51:46.170 --> 00:51:58.350
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: Great now we we have some questions which have been coming in over the chat and I believe there may be some some other questions, coming as as well.
00:51:59.310 --> 00:52:09.540
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: First, one and Melinda i'll look to you to sort of back me up here was what was the Jewish community and southbury and let me answer, part one of that.
00:52:09.810 --> 00:52:10.710
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: There wasn't.
00:52:11.760 --> 00:52:13.110
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: There may have been one.
00:52:14.160 --> 00:52:24.810
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: Jewish family in southbury during this time there, there were Jews in this neighborhood and woodbury there was a Jewish community and there were synagogues in in waterbury.
00:52:25.530 --> 00:52:36.300
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: And, and certainly the Jewish community in hartford which has always been historically a very great Jewish community was very focused on what was happening here and the Connecticut Jewish ledger.
00:52:37.380 --> 00:52:41.640
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: Was was very well aware and very supportive of the actions which happened.
00:52:42.660 --> 00:52:44.220
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: In southbury.
00:52:45.630 --> 00:52:47.190
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: Will the.
00:52:48.510 --> 00:52:57.900
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: The documentary is which we talked about was home of the brave and I guess through here was one of the ways of being able to access home of the brave.
00:52:59.040 --> 00:53:02.100
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: Do we have other ways yet of being able to access home of the brave.
00:53:02.400 --> 00:53:03.000
Melinda Elliott: Or the sound.
00:53:03.810 --> 00:53:04.440
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: pretty soon.
00:53:05.010 --> 00:53:06.720
Melinda Elliott: pretty soon, probably the end of the month.
00:53:08.550 --> 00:53:22.410
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: And there was another companion piece, which was done as well, which talks about the events when southbury sought to honor it, which is also a really great great piece.
00:53:22.950 --> 00:53:28.290
Arnie Bernstein: And if people are interested in my book, please feel free to contact me via the Internet and i'm pretty easy to find.
00:53:32.010 --> 00:53:34.980
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: Now some questions which came in um.
00:53:38.220 --> 00:53:39.000
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: First, is.
00:53:40.080 --> 00:53:43.620
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: Where were the organizers of the plan camping southbury based.
00:53:44.790 --> 00:53:45.870
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: And so.
00:53:46.980 --> 00:54:01.320
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: They were doing it, that the land was bought by a blend Member in Stanford and and they were trying to to look at things from there.
00:54:02.370 --> 00:54:14.970
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: How did this large parcel of land get sold to the Bund organization or its leaders, without being noted or was it just a commingling of a lot of small parcels that would go unnoticed Melinda yes.
00:54:15.120 --> 00:54:24.000
Melinda Elliott: There were actually three parcels that were put together, but they were previously previously put together for a different company 10 years.
00:54:25.920 --> 00:54:26.550
Melinda Elliott: before that.
00:54:28.290 --> 00:54:42.330
Melinda Elliott: that yes, it was it wasn't easy it was okay sorry, it was not hard to sneak it through, because at that time, the state of Connecticut was buying property all over southbury for the state hospital.
00:54:43.260 --> 00:54:58.080
Arnie Bernstein: There was also a front organization called the German American business league German the German American business men's League and they were a front for a lot of the bunch of purchases, such as things like southbury and and other things as well.
00:54:58.470 --> 00:55:01.080
Melinda Elliott: But this one was only was one individual.
00:55:01.800 --> 00:55:04.410
Arnie Bernstein: yeah I think he was with though the German American businessman sleek, though.
00:55:05.970 --> 00:55:20.700
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: um another question which came in on the chat and we may not have addressed I don't think we've addressed this specifically was why did the blood come to southbury, why was southbury selected as the site for this camp.
00:55:21.330 --> 00:55:29.850
Melinda Elliott: It was in my notes I forgot to tell you i'm so sorry the Stanford blonde decided that they were well they decided that they were going to.
00:55:30.300 --> 00:55:45.000
Melinda Elliott: expand into Connecticut as the gateway to New England, they went to bridgeport new haven waterbury and Dan Barry to see if they could find any Germans to to continue.
00:55:45.810 --> 00:55:57.270
Melinda Elliott: To make units, however, they did find people, but they were mostly the old Germans, but they thought there was enough new the newer German so they could.
00:55:57.990 --> 00:56:09.240
Melinda Elliott: make a camp here right in the middle of Salford right in the middle of those big towns and there was also a German Community already here that was considering being part of.
00:56:10.860 --> 00:56:25.830
Arnie Bernstein: These camps were nationwide to it's important to point that out there were, I think, maybe 15 to 20 that they knew about there was major one in Los Angeles, I think there's one outside St Louis certainly the one in Wisconsin and the majority of them were on the east coast.
00:56:28.800 --> 00:56:35.010
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: And another question which came in and I think that RNA Perhaps you are perhaps Rebecca.
00:56:36.060 --> 00:56:53.880
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: One of our participants or one of our folks watching us today wrote it seems to me that South berries courage and stopping the camp is the first serious blow to the abundance of Fritz Kuhn, how important is this one event as a catalyst for the downfall of the books.
00:56:54.750 --> 00:57:02.460
Arnie Bernstein: Oh it's vital it showed that Americans were willing to stand up willing to say no, people were frightened of the Bund.
00:57:03.660 --> 00:57:11.070
Arnie Bernstein: The they were generally frightened of what was going on, they were holding Nazi marches in the streets of brooklyn for goodness sake.
00:57:11.550 --> 00:57:23.130
Arnie Bernstein: And they had their their flags that were you know spouting all this ideology and here's a town that stood up and said no, this is not America, and you are not American.
00:57:23.640 --> 00:57:30.810
Arnie Bernstein: To do this kind of thing it's so on American in southbury stories is vital to the story of how the German American born fell.
00:57:33.120 --> 00:57:33.390
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: On.
00:57:33.840 --> 00:57:35.280
Ed Edelson: Another just.
00:57:36.390 --> 00:57:37.050
Ed Edelson: A little.
00:57:39.300 --> 00:57:48.330
Ed Edelson: kudos for us, for what we did, because I think arnie will tell us that, despite all the research you've been doing on the German American bond.
00:57:48.780 --> 00:57:56.760
Ed Edelson: until he saw things in our local newspaper that we were putting this documentary together, he had been i've been unable to find anything about it.
00:57:57.420 --> 00:58:16.350
Ed Edelson: So we were really off the radar South Korea as far as a story to be told, and for a small town like us to go from No one knowing about our story in 1937 to now being part of a exhibited in Washington DC well reviewed well.
00:58:17.910 --> 00:58:25.200
Ed Edelson: Thought a book, I think, is quite an accomplishment to go from zero to 60 since we put the documentary together.
00:58:25.590 --> 00:58:40.230
Arnie Bernstein: One of my fattest files was from South bakery you sent me plenty of stuff and is well documented to kudos to you on the excellent documentation I wish I could have gone further with it with the story, there was so much information.
00:58:40.770 --> 00:58:48.570
Rebecca Erbelding: yeah and we learned about this story because of the film So if you hadn't done the film I don't know that we would have been able to tell that story as well.
00:58:50.190 --> 00:58:57.240
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: Right and somebody who came to one of our exhibits when we were showing the film, who is involved with the newseum.
00:58:57.840 --> 00:59:11.160
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: This sort of brought it so yeah one thing built so much upon another um we've been looking at southbury How did the rest of Connecticut react to the establishment of this camp or the potential of the effort, and I know that.
00:59:11.610 --> 00:59:20.670
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: Melinda if you can share who else was in southbury the night of those town meetings and what was the other vibe going within Connecticut.
00:59:21.330 --> 00:59:28.020
Melinda Elliott: There were a lot of people from out of town that came to the town meetings, because they wanted to see what was going on.
00:59:29.070 --> 00:59:38.520
Melinda Elliott: The first selectman from waterbury from would vary from roxbury they all came to to support southbury as for people who were.
00:59:39.120 --> 00:59:52.080
Melinda Elliott: Writing against the bond their letters at the state Capitol right now piles of letters from discussions, some people who definitely did not want to blend in Connecticut.
00:59:58.770 --> 01:00:06.780
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: Great now I asked our our panelists any final thoughts before we wrap up.
01:00:09.600 --> 01:00:10.740
Ed Edelson: Besides, my my book.
01:00:10.830 --> 01:00:11.010
01:00:12.420 --> 01:00:13.350
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: i've already done that.
01:00:15.900 --> 01:00:23.790
Arnie Bernstein: I think the really important lesson i've said this before, is that because of southbury, we can see that we.
01:00:24.750 --> 01:00:35.340
Arnie Bernstein: Good people standing up and speaking up and sometimes putting themselves in a dangerous place can stop these kinds of elements and these elements are still out there.
01:00:36.240 --> 01:00:42.870
Arnie Bernstein: And we need people who are willing to be strong and stand up, as well as people who are gathering together in groups as well.
01:00:43.530 --> 01:00:57.540
Rebecca Erbelding: yep civic participation as Linda said writing letters somebody wrote a letter at five years ago and we're talking about it today, and so, if there's a cause you care about stand up and write a letter and and join a club and get involved.
01:01:00.750 --> 01:01:09.450
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: So we thank our panelists for such a thoughtful and important conversation I learned so much whenever i'm with you Thank you so much.
01:01:10.560 --> 01:01:20.190
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: Now hillel said, and the English if i'm not fair myself, who will be for me, but if i'm only for myself what am I.
01:01:20.580 --> 01:01:36.750
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: And if not now, when now that ancient sage hillel famous mac's and which i've just quoted speaks to us always and especially as we observe YoM pasha as we observe Holocaust Remembrance Day this very week.
01:01:37.170 --> 01:01:40.590
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: So let us continue to seek out and publicize.
01:01:40.830 --> 01:01:47.280
Rabbi Eric Polokoff: These models of empathy and of action, and thank you so much Sydney.
01:01:48.840 --> 01:01:58.890
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): yeah i'd like to echo what the rabbi said, thank you all so much, I also have learned a lot and I would like to thank you Eric for moderating today, I think.
01:01:59.610 --> 01:02:07.770
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): We all learn so much because of your leadership in this conversation and i'd like to thank you all out there in the Internet for joining us.
01:02:08.160 --> 01:02:15.330
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): And I would also like to thank South Britain congregational Church and the Jewish federation of Western Connecticut for co presenting today's Program.
01:02:16.290 --> 01:02:24.180
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): Everything we do at the museum is made possible through donor support to those of you watching we hope you'll consider making a donation to support the museum.
01:02:24.570 --> 01:02:35.310
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): or becoming a member and joining us for upcoming programs that you can check out a link in the zoom chat Thank you all again for joining us Thank you again to our panelists and our moderator and have a great afternoon.
01:02:36.480 --> 01:02:36.750
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): bye.
01:02:37.980 --> 01:02:40.050
Arnie Bernstein: Thanks thanks.
Learn More About the German American Bund
In 1936, the German-American Bund was formed in the United States to advocate for policies beneficial to Germany. The Bund was very active throughout the latter half of the 1930s, organizing rallies and marches, including a rally at Madison Square Garden in 1939. One of the Bund’s most notable activities was running summer camps across the nation that were similar to Hitler Youth Camps. Camp Siegfried was located in Yaphank, New York and attracted numerous visitors. Learn more about Camp Siegfried in this Museum program.
Learn About the Nazis of Copley Square
In 1939, the Christian Front was formed in response to a call by Father Charles Edward Coughlin to oppose the Popular Front, a communist organization. The members of the Christian Front were American Catholics who supported a pro-Nazi agenda. In 1940, the FBI alleged that members of the group were trying to install what they called a “temporary dictatorship” to end the influence of Jews and Communists, who they saw as the same, in the United States. Learn more about the Christian Front in this Museum program.
Learn About American Leaders’ Responses to the Holocaust
As the Nazi regime perpetrated genocide in Europe, some political leaders in the United States responded with courage and others responded with indifference. The divergent approaches taken by individuals within the government, especially to the Jewish refugee crisis, are an important part of the story of Americans and the Holocaust. This program, presented by the Museum and The Olga Lengyel Institute (TOLI), explores these divergent approaches and the lessons they can offer us.