The Third Wave: a curious Experiment about Nazism3 min read
The images of Berlin, devastated by the Second World War, can induce what was the recurring question in the years following the end of the conflict: how did the Germans not to realize the Holocaust, planned and accomplished by the Nazi regime?
Nobody knows, let alone the Germans themselves, who in the immediate post-war period preferred to do a work of removal rather than a critical analysis.
How can a person, even in a very short time, create from nothing a movement based only on his ability to fascinate and dominate the followers?
In April 1967, an American teacher conducted an experiment with his 15-year-old students, which had surprising results.
Ron Jones taught contemporary history at Cubberley High School in Palo Alto, California. When it came to explaining to students the origin and the affirmation of the Nazi movement in Germany, the professor was unable to explain in a comprehensive manner how it was possible that the German people had accepted the terrible actions perpetrated by the regime.
In order to demonstrate the ability of Nazism to attract followers, Ron Jones gave birth to a movement he baptized The Third Wave, whose motto was: “Strength through discipline, strength through community, strength through action, strength through pride.” The teacher convinced his students that the marked individualism of democracy could a weakness for a movement that pursued “force”.
On the first day of the experiment, Jones merely imposed some simple rules, such as sitting correctly and quietly. He maintained a strict discipline and set himself as an authoritarian figure, to improve the performance of the class.
The second day he invented a form of greeting (similar to the Nazi), which the guys had to use among themselves, even outside the school.
On the third day the guys of other classes joined the movement, that grew up until 200 members; some of them, without any solicitation, went to Jones to report about the mates who did not follow the rules.
On the fourth day Jones decided to stop the experiment, because the movement had grown more than he imagined, and it was difficult to keep under control. One of the most obvious results was that all the guys involved showed a marked improvement in their academic performance. To conclude the experiment, Jones declared that their movement was part of a larger group spread throughout the country, and ordered the students to attend with him the following day, to a television program in which a presidential candidate would have officially declared existence.
On the fifth and last day, Jones turned on a television on an “empty” channel; after a few minutes, the teacher explained to the boys that they had participated in an experiment on Nazism, in which they developed a sense of superiority very similar to that experienced by the German people during the Nazi regime. Then he concluded his “strange lesson” by projecting a film on the history of Nazism.
To the initial question, on how aberrant movements such as Nazism (and many others, for the truth) find followers, the answer could be: easily! And is not it the truth?