Let's say right away: this is an absolutely real story that happened in 1967 in California.
Ron Jones taught history at Ellwood Cabberle High School in Palo Alto, California. While studying World War II, one of the students asked Jones how ordinary people in Germany could pretend not to know anything about the concentration camps and massacres in their country. Since the class was ahead of the curriculum, Jones decided to set aside one week for an experiment on the subject.
On Monday he gave a lecture to the children on the power of discipline. About how an athlete feels who has trained hard and regularly to be successful in a sport. About how much a ballerina or artist works to make every movement perfect. About the patience of a scientist keen on the search for a scientific idea.
Jones instructed the students to sit at attention, as this is better for learning. Then he ordered the students to stand up and sit down in a new position several times, then also repeatedly ordered them to leave the audience and quietly enter and take their places. The schoolchildren liked the "game", and they willingly followed the instructions. Jones instructed the students to answer the questions clearly and vividly, and they obeyed with interest, even the usually passive students.
On Tuesday, the teacher entered the classroom and found everyone sitting silently at attention. Some of the students were smiling. But most were looking straight ahead with a sincere, focused expression, neck muscles tense, no sign of smiles, thoughts, or even questions.
Jones explained to the class the power of community. He told the students to chant in chorus: "Strength in discipline, strength in community." The students acted with obvious enthusiasm, seeing the strength of their group. At the end of the lesson, Jones showed the students the greeting they were supposed to use when meeting each other — a raised, curved right hand to the shoulder — and called the gesture the Third Wave salute. In the following days, the students regularly greeted each other with this gesture.
Jones issued membership cards to all students on Wednesday. Not a single person wanted to leave the audience. Thirteen students left the other lessons to take part in the experiment. The teacher gave everyone a membership card. He put red crosses on three of the tickets and informed the recipients that they had been given a special mission to report anyone who did not obey the class rules. However, in practice, about 20 people were engaged in voluntary denunciations. One of the students, distinguished by a large physique and low learning ability, told Jones that he would be his bodyguard, and followed him throughout the school.
The three most successful female students of the class, whose abilities in the new conditions were not in demand, reported the experiment to their parents. As a result, Jones received a call from the local rabbi, who was satisfied with the answer that the class was learning the German personality type in practice. The rabbi promised to explain everything to the parents of the schoolgirls. Jones was extremely disappointed by the lack of resistance even from adults, and the headmaster greeted him with a Third Wave salute. By the end of the day, more than two hundred students had been admitted to the organization. Many took their participation in the Third Wave very seriously. They demanded strict adherence to the rules from other students and intimidated those who did not take the experiment seriously.
By Thursday, the class had grown to eighty. Jones talked about what pride is. “Pride is more than banners and salutes. Pride is something that no one can take from you. To be proud means to know that you are the best ... This feeling cannot be eradicated ... ”He explained to the students that they are part of a nationwide youth program whose task is political transformation for the benefit of the people. “Everything we have done so far has been preparation for the present case. Across the country, educators are recruiting and training youth squads who, through discipline, community, pride and action, can show the nation that society can be a better society.
If we can change the order in this school, then we can change the order in factories, shops, universities and all other organizations. You are a select group of young people who will help this cause. If you come forward and show what you have learned over the past four days ... we can change the fate of our people. ” Jones ordered four guards to escort three girls out of the auditorium and escort to the library, whose loyalty was questionable. He then said that the leader of the movement and the new candidate for the presidency will announce the Third Wave on television at noon Friday.
On Friday, 200 students crammed into the office. There was not a single free space. The Third Wave banners hung everywhere. At twelve o'clock sharp, Jones closed the doors and posted a sentry for each. Jones's friends portrayed the photographers as they circled the audience. "Before turning on the national press conference, which starts in five minutes, I want to show the press how prepared we are." With these words, the teacher gave a salute. In response, two hundred hands immediately shot up automatically. Then he uttered the motto "Strength in discipline." It was repeated by a polyphonic chorus. The motto was recited over and over again. Each time, the response from the crowd grew louder. At five minutes past twelve, Jones turned on the television, but nothing appeared on the screen.
Then he turned to the disciples.
- Listen carefully. There is no leader! There is no nationwide youth movement called the Third Wave. You have been manipulated, you have been propelled by your own ambitions, and you are in the position in which you are now. You are no better and no worse than the Germans we studied. You thought that you were the chosen one, that you were better than those who are not in this room. You have sold your freedom for the convenience of discipline and excellence. You have chosen to give up your own beliefs and accept the will of the group and the big lie.
After that, Jones showed the students a film about Nazi Germany. With her discipline, parades and torchlight processions. And how it all ended.
Then Jones summed up: “If we managed to fully reproduce the German mentality, then none of you will ever admit that you were at the last training camp of the Third Wave. Just like the Germans, it will be difficult for you to admit to yourself that you have come this far. " The schoolchildren dispersed in a depressed state, many could not hold back their tears.