«The Wave» is a short story based on a true incident that occurred in a high school history class in Palo Alto, California, in 1967. It began as history teacher Ron Jones tried to teach his class about one of the most hideous events in human history: World War II.  Jones” students had lots of questions: Ηow could such a thing have happened?  Why didn’t anyone stop it?

The teacher couldn’t explain it, so he decided to try out a little experiment which he called «The Third Wave.» He wanted to create an environment in his classroom that would help his students understand what was going on in Nazi Germany.

If you would like to learn more about the Third Wave, you can watch this documentary in which the actual events that took place are described:

The following are letters that were sent by students during the course of this experiment:


Dear George,

I am writing to tell you about my participation in the Third Wave. I know that you may think I am irrational for following this movement, but I think I ought to do that to continue to have high marks at school.

I know that you are not in my school, so I will describe what the Third Wave experiment is about. The whole experiment started when a student asked our teacher, Mr. Jones, how the Nazis could manipulate people. After that he decided to do an experiment to show us how that happened. Although the experiment has been taking place during the last two weeks, these days things are getting worse.

The last three days, I feel very confused with all those things and I want to ask you what you would do if you were me. Some students control the behavior of others and nobody reacts to this despite their desire to do that. The teacher has ordered students to sit in attention position in class, to salute with their hand other children, not to gather in groups bigger than two and many other awful things in the name of discipline.

I don’t know what to do and I feel desperate. I just follow the teacher’s orders. Please help me.



Dear Chris,

I am writing to discuss with you my problem with my history class.

The previous week, our history teacher started a project to show us how the Nazis could control people. We had to follow special discipline rules which were easy, but now our behavior is out of control. Some students inspect the other ones. If we don’t behave as the rules say, we will be punished by Mr. Jones (our teacher). The situation is not as easy as it seems.

After a few days, I decided to react to this movement. I made posters, which showed how bad this experiment was, and put them on the school walls. Which was the result? The result was that the posters went down from the walls. Nobody knows why.


Although I reacted, nobody stood by my side to help me show the negative effect of the experiment.

I don’t know what I can  do both to help others and to stop this terrible experiment. I have no idea about how I can react as students don’t want to cooperate with me. I know that you are in another school but I would be grateful if you helped me.



Πλαβούκος Χρήστος Α3