Southbury Says No to the Nazis
85th Anniversary Poem
85th Anniversary Poem
Southbury resident and author of Lois's Story Ed Edelson invited me to write a poem commemorating the 85th anniversary of when Southbury said no to the Nazis in 1937. Ed and his community-wide team organized a weekend-long event honoring the town's bravery in the face of fascism when it tried to encroach on the Kettletown part of town.
Lyric Reading - Southbury, Connecticut, Defeats Local Nazis in 1937
Various Video clips - Home of the Brave on YouTube
Eleanor Roosevelt Speech Human Rights - PublicResourceOrg on YouTube
Ben Ferencz Nuremberg Trials Einsatzgruppen Case #9 Opening - RobertHJackson Center
Statue of Liberty clip from Sarowar Hassain on Pexels
Southbury, Connecticut, Defeats Local Nazis in 1937
Invoking the Muses
Hear the voices of Southbury’s leaders
Recalled for their moral courage at a dangerous time.
Preaches the Reverend Felix Manley
Of Southbury Federated Church:
“Un-American inhabitants can
Not tear down what has been built so slowly
At so much cost.”(1)
Insists Jennie Hinman,
The town’s leading citizen and oldest
Taxpayer: “The display of emblems indicating
Allegiance to a foreign power on
Public roads or streams in this community
Shall be prohibited.”(2)
Resolves the Reverend M.E.N. Lindsay
Of the South Britain Congregational Church:
“I am compelled by the nature of my office
To warn my people of the evil consequences
Of such movements, and to this end,
Must address myself at the time of discourse
During the Sunday morning worship hour.”(3)
Southbury Lays Down the Law
Consider this response to well-placed words:
Well-organized Yankees lift their voices
To defend rural Southbury–their home–
From American Nazis’ gaining ground
In Kettletown, by calling constables
To stop Nazi camp construction on a Sunday in 1937.
First, blue laws; next, new-cast zoning policies
Protect a farming people at peace
With hard-won freedom, inherited truths
That make no way for hatred’s marching tunes.
Southbury makes the rules, then plays by them:
No training camp for fascist families here.
The lesson: Know what you stand for; then, stand.
Community thrives when respect for law
Frees every citizen from hatred’s thrall.
After the slaughter of European
Jews and the leveling of landscapes,
Eleanor Roosevelt warns us to learn:
“We let our consciences realize too late
The need of standing up against something
We knew was wrong. I hope in the future,
We are going to remember that there
Can be no compromise at any point
With the things we know are wrong.”(4) Learn it:
“Those who treat life as their toy, death as their
Tool, if these men be immune, the law has lost
Its meaning and we must all live in fear.”(5)
What will you do when the menace draws near?
An elderly Jewish survivor
Recalls this pivotal childhood moment
When he fled Hitler’s war for a new world:
“The fog lifted, and there it was after all:
The Statue of Liberty,
After all, after all, I see it all
Now, after all these years,
The taste of freedom, here.”(6)
(1) “Elderly Woman Helped rid Southbury of Nazis in 1937,” Republican-American. 11 November 2012. archives.rep-am.com/2012/11/11/elderly-woman-helped-rid-southbury-of-nazis-in-1937/. Accessed 11 November 2022.
(3) Lindsay, M.E.N. Letter to the Editor of the Republican-American. 18 November 1937. EHRI Project, EU. portal.ehri-project.eu/collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn90002#?rsc=144123&cv=4&c=0&m=0&s=0&xywh=-133%2C954%2C5009%2C3281. Accessed 11 November 22.
(4) "Speech before Women's Division of the United Jewish Appeal of Greater New York ." Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Volume 1. Encyclopedia.com. 9 Nov. 2022 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.
(5) Prosecutor Benjamin Ferencz in his closing argument at the Nuremberg Trials.
(6) Survivor Joseph Hilsenrath in Ken Burns’s 2022 documentary The U.S. and the Holocaust.