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Based on the real experience of a high school class in Palo Alto, CA in April 1967, whose teacher wanted to
explain the rise of the Nazi party to his students
runtime 46:12, click play to start
The Third Wave event by history teacher Ron Jones to an experimental recreation of Nazi Germany which
he conducted with high school students.
The experiment took place at Cubberley High School in Palo Alto, California, during one week in 1967. Jones, unable to
explain to his students why the German citizens (particularly non-Nazis) allowed the Nazi Party to exterminate millions of
Jews and other so-called 'undesirables', decided to show them instead. Jones writes that he started with simple things like
classroom discipline, and managed to meld his history class into a group with a supreme sense of purpose and no small amount
of cliquishness. Jones named the movement "The Third Wave," after the common wisdom that the third in a series of ocean waves
is always the strongest, and claimed its members would revolutionize the world. The experiment allegedly took on a life of
its own, with students from all over the school joining in; Jones wrote that he agonized over the outcome of the exercise
before bringing it to a halt by claiming that the movement had a world-wide leader, and then displaying a film clip of Adolf
Despite the clear implications of this study on the malleability of young minds is of particular interest to both psychologists
seeking to understand and prevent it, and would-be world dictators attempting to recreate it, little has surfaced on the subject;
Todd Strasser, under the pen name Morton Rhue, wrote a young-adult novel on the subject (entitled The Wave), which
was later made into a movie and a play; later, Jones himself came forward with his own material. Researchers of the experiment
have had some trouble in eliciting reports from any of the students involved.
". We were studying Nazi Germany and in the middle of a lecture I was interrupted by the
question. How could the German populace claim ignorance of the slaughter of the Jewish people. How could the townspeople,
railroad conductors, teachers, doctors, claim they knew nothing about concentration camps and human carnage. How can people
who were neighbors and maybe even friends of the Jewish citizen say they weren't there when it happened. it was a good question.
I didn't know the answer."
Not knowing the answer led to a frightening experiment - even more frightening as it happened in
a peaceful surrounding protected by the Bill of Rights.