- Free write. Directions for free write
- Write nonstop for a set period of time (10-15 minutes).
- Do not make corrections as you write.
- Keep writing, even if you have to write something like, “I don’t know what to write.”
- Write whatever comes into your mind.
- Do not judge or censor what you are writing.
Class Starter. Read about victims of the Holocaust. Free write about the following:
- who were the victims?
- discuss why the German people obeyed Adolf Hitler in perpetrating (carrying out) the mass extermination of 11 million people.
- could something like the Holocaust happen here in the U.S?
Big Ideas That Relate to Psychology
- How do you define obedience? What is blind obedience? How does it differ from other forms of obedience?
- What is the difference between obedience and conformity?
- What encourages obedience? Is it fear of punishment? A desire to please? A need to go along with the group? A belief in authority?
- Which social psychology experiment that we studied relate to these topics?
The Wave is a true story. History teacher Ron Jones started “the Third Wave” in one of his World History class. It turned into one of the most frightening things he had ever seen in a school. He later wrote a short story about it, and this was turned into full-length novel and two movies.
The events in The Wave illustrate the powerful and frightening forces of group pressure.
Throughout history these forces have created circumstances in which ordinary people have committed evil deeds that they would never have individually set out to do. Like the history class in The Wave, many have looked back at the Nazi period in Europe and wondered how the large-scale murders they committed could ever have happened.
The Nazis’ rise to power: The Nazis came to power in Germany under Adolf Hitler in 1933, at a time when economic conditions were very bad. There was also great
anger in the country over the conditions which had been imposed on it by Britain, France and the United States under the peace treaty at the end of the First World War. The Nazis promised to make the economy better, to create jobs, and to make Germany
great again. However, their policies went much further than this.
Hitler told the Germans that they were members of a superior race, who were going to dominate the whole world. He said that he would join together all the German-speaking peoples of Europe into one Germanic super-state, which was to be the center and purpose of everyone’s life. People began to be attracted to the Nazis’ message that Germany could be returned to its former glory.
After gaining power in 1933, the Nazis quickly took control of every aspect of German life. They took control of the newspapers and radio, banned all non-Nazi parties,
and imprisoned their political opponents. All this was necessary, they said, to protect the future of the country. They used slogans to spread their ideas, such as: ‘Right is
what serves the people’. They also began excluding the Jews from more and more aspects of national life. By January 1942, the Nazis had adopted the ‘final solution’ and the mass extermination of the Jews in Europe began.
No one knows how many people knew what was happening. By the end of the war, the Nazis murdered six million European Jews. They also sent to the gas chambers other people whom they regarded as ‘impure’: the mentally ill and handicapped, the physically handicapped, gypsies, Slavs, homosexuals and political opponents.
Social science experiments have shown the frightening extent to which people will simply obey authority. In the 1960s, at the time of the trial of the Nazi war criminal
Adolf Eichman, psychologist Stanley Milgram carried out a series of experiments at Yale University which showed that most participants did not refuse to administer
harmful electric shocks to another person for as long as they were instructed to do so by a person in authority. Experiments such as this show how frighteningly easy it
is to make people obey even if those actions go against their moral beliefs.
The Wave Trailer (2011 German Remake of the movie)