In 1972, on an unremarkable Monday morning, an American school teacher named Ron Jones was confronted with a question in his World History class: "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 citizens say they weren't there when it happened?"

Ron didn't have an answer, but he decided to, without explaining exactly what he was doing, perform a social experiment to find out. He started by having the entire class practice a certain seating posture: feet flat on the floor, hands flat across the small of the back to align the spine correctly. This posture was supposed to aid concentration and focus while learning. He spent half the class period walking around the classroom, making small adjustments to particular students, having them all stand up and sit down in the proper posture as quickly as possible. It was disturbingly effective.

The next day, he came into the classroom to discover all his students were already sitting in this posture, silent and attentive, just as he'd instructed. So he went forward with the experiment a little more: explaining yesterday's exercise as an example of "strength through discipline" and then proceeded with "strength through community". Students would stand when called and recite, in unison, the "strength through discipline" motto. By the end of the class he had a special salute to go with the motto.

By the end of the week, he had, by his own testimony, a convincing scaled-down version of the Nazi Hitler Jugend, who not only enjoyed their feelings of shared superiority and reinforced discipline, but who had attracted nearly twice as many additional students from other classrooms. It was scary, and sobering. Students and teacher together learned the hard way just how easy it was, and still could be, for Adolf Hitler to rise to power.

And, to answer the original question, Ron Jones pointed this out as he dismissed his "party members" at the end of the week. Every one of them, himself included, went home and never said a word about it, never admitted to their participation, to anyone.

The original magazine article about the Third Wave, written by Ron Jones in 1972, can be found online at