It is an absolutely real story that happened in 1967 in California.
Ron Jones lectured history at the Ellwood Kabberle high school in Palo Alto, California. During the studying of World War II one of the students asked Jones how ordinary people of Germany could pretend that they knew nothing about the concentration camps and extermination of people in their country. Jones decided to allote one week for experiment dedicated to this issue.
On Monday, he gave a lecture about the power of discipline. He told about what feels an athlete who trains regularly and diligently to achieve success in any sport. About how many trains a dancer or an artist to make every move perfect. About patience of a scientist doing enthusiastic search for scientific ideas.
Jones told the students to keep their attention, as it contributes to better learning. He then ordered the students to stand up several times and to sit down in a new position, then also repeatedly told to get out of the classroom and silently come in and to take their seats. The schoolchildren liked the “game” , and they followed the instructions. Jones told the students to answer questions clearly and vividly, and they all obeyed, even the normally passive students.
On Tuesday, the teacher entered the classroom and found that all the students were silently sitting with attention. Some of the students were smiling. But most looked straight ahead with a sincere concentrated expression, neck muscles were tense, no signs of smiles, thoughts, and even questions.
Jones explained the class the power of community. He told the students to shout in chorus: “The power is in the discipline, the strength is in the community.” Disciples acted with obvious enthusiasm, seeing the power of the group. At the end of the lesson Jones showed students a greeting that they had to use meeting each other, – bent right arm raised to shoulder – and called it the Third Wave salute gesture. In the following days the students regularly greeted each other by this gesture.
On Wednesday, Jones issued membership cards to all students. Noone wanted to leave the audience. Thirteen students slipped other classes to take part in the experiment. The teacher gave each membership card. Three cards he marked by red crosses and told their recipients that they are given a special assignment to report about everyone who does not obey the rules of the class. However, in practice about 20 people voluntary sqealed. One of the students, corpulent with low learning ability, said Jones he would be his bodyguard, and went after him throughout the school.
The three most successful students of the class whose abilities in the new conditions were not in demand, told their parents about the experiment . As a result, Jones was called by a local rabbi, who was satisfied with the answer that the class was studying the German type of personality in practice. The rabbi promised to explain it parents of the schoolgirls. Jones was extremely disappointed by the lack of resistance even by adults, the headmaster greeted him with the Third Wave salute. By the end of the day more than two hundred students were involved to the organization. Many of them reacted to the participation in the Third Wave with complete seriousness. They demanded that the other disciples obeyed the rules and threatened those who did not take the experiment seriously.
By Thursday, the number of classes increased to eighty people. Jones held a lecture about what is pride. “Pride is more than banners and fireworks. Pride is what you have, no one can take it away. To be proud is to know that you are the best … This feeling can not be destroyed …” He explained to the students that they were a part of a national youth program, whose task was political transformation for the benefit of the people. “All that we were doing was preparing for the present. Across the country, teachers train the youth squads that with discipline, community, pride and action could show the nation that society can become better. If we can change the order in this school, we can change the order in factories, stores, universities and in other organizations. You are a selected group of young people who will help the case. If you come forward and show what you have learned in the past four days, we can change the destiny of our people.”Jones told the guards to turn outof the audience and to follow to the library three girls, whose loyalty was questionable. Then he told at noon on Friday, The Third Wave will be shown on television and the leader of the movement and the new candidate for the presidency will speak.
On Friday, 200 students crowded into the room. There was no free space. Everywhere were hung banners of the Third Wave. Exactly at twelve o’clock Jones closed the doors and appointed a sentry for each door. Jones’ friends Jones pretended to be photographers. “Before we start the national press conference, which will begin in five minutes, I want to demonstrate to the press how we are prepared.” With these words, the teacher gave a salute. In response immediately and automatically two hundred hands rose up . Then he shouted the motto “Strength is in the discipline.” and the many-voiced chorus repeated. The motto uttered again and again. Each time, the response of the crowd grew louder. In the first five minutes, Jones turned on the TV, but the screen didn’t show anything.
Then he turned to his disciples:
– Listen carefully. There is no any leader! There is no national youth movement called “Third Wave”. You have been manipulated, you’ve been pushed by your own ambitions. You are no better and no worse than those Germans which we studied. You thought that you are the chosen ones, that you are better than those who aren’t in this room. You sold your freedom for convenience given by discipline and excellence. You have decided to abandon your own beliefs and accept the will of the group and of the big lie.
After that, Jones showed students a film about Nazi Germany. With its discipline, parades, torchlight processions and how it ended.
Then Jones concluded: “If we were able to fully reproduce the German mentality, than none of you would never admit that he was present at the last meeting of the Third Wave. Just as the Germans, you will be hard to admit to yourself that you have gone so far.” Pupils went out in a depressed state, many could not hold back tears.