This blog has nothing to do with the Holocaust and equally everything to do with the Holocaust. Nothing because the event took place decades after the Holocaust and everything because it shows how easy it was to get a sophisticated nation turn into sheep following a wolf.
I took the title from a quote from the 1981 movie “The Wave” a movie although acting wise not a masterpiece but the message it gave was powerful.Many times I have watched it , several time when I was a kid in school.
The movie was based on an experimental social movement created by California high school history teacher Ron Jones to explain how the German population could accept the actions of the Nazi regime during the Second World War..
Ron Jones, the teacher, had arrived there straight from training college. He soon became famed for his unorthodox methods: making students at the almost all-white school use different toilets to demonstrate apartheid, for instance..
Jones, finding himself unable to explain to his students how the German population could have claimed ignorance of The Holocaust, decided to demonstrate it to them instead. Jones started a movement called “The Third Wave” and told his students that the movement aimed to eliminate democracy. The idea that democracy emphasizes individuality was considered as a drawback of democracy, and Jones emphasized this main point of the movement in its motto: “Strength through discipline, strength through community, strength through action, strength through pride.”
Jones writes that he started the first day of the experiment with simple things such as proper seating and extensively drilling the students. He then proceeded to enforce strict classroom discipline by emerging as an authoritarian figure and dramatically improving the efficiency of the class.
The first day’s session was closed with only a few rules, intending to be a one-day experiment. Students had to be sitting at attention before the second bell, had to stand up to ask or answer questions and had to do it in three words or fewer, and were required to preface each remark with “Mr. Jones”.
On the second day, he managed to meld his history class into a group with a supreme sense of discipline and community. Jones based the name of his movement, “The Third Wave”, on the supposed fact that the third in a series of waves is the strongest. Jones made up a salute involving a cupped hand reaching across the chest toward the opposite shoulder and resembling a Hitler salute and ordered class members to salute each other even outside the class. They all complied with this command.
The experiment took on a life of its own, with students from all over the school joining in: some students who did not take the history class but had a free period decided to join the class. On the third day, the class expanded from initial 30 students to 43 attendees. All of the students showed drastic improvement in their academic skills and tremendous motivation. All of the students were issued a member card, and each of them received a special assignment, like designing a Third Wave Banner, stopping non-members from entering the class, or the like. Jones instructed the students on how to initiate new members, and by the end of the day the movement had over 200 participants. Jones was surprised that some of the students started reporting to him when other members of the movement failed to abide by the rules.
On Thursday, the fourth day of the experiment, Jones decided to terminate the movement because it was slipping out of his control. The students became increasingly involved in the project and their discipline and loyalty to the project was outstanding. He announced to the participants that this movement was a part of a nationwide movement and that on the next day a presidential candidate of the Third Wave would publicly announce its existence. Jones ordered students to attend a noon rally on Friday to witness the announcement.
Instead of a televised address of their leader, the students were presented with an empty channel. After a few minutes of waiting, Jones announced that they had been a part of an experiment in fascism and that they all willingly created a sense of superiority like German citizens had in the period of Nazi Germany. He then played them a film about the Nazi regime to conclude the experiment.
Although it is easy to point the finger of blame to all Germans but the experiment shows how easy it is to brainwash a group. Within 5 days the dynamics in this high school completely changed without any propaganda machinery behind it.
This could have happened anywhere.
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