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Quotes for
Ben Ross (Character)
from The Wave (1981) (TV)

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The Wave (1981) (TV)
Ben Ross: Strength through discipline, strength through community, strength through action!

Christy Ross: [Ross and his wife are arguing over The Wave's impact on other teachers' classes, including Christy's] Just turn it off!
Ben Ross: Not yet! If I stopped now, they'd be left hanging. They'd be confused.
Christy Ross: Well, let them be confused!
Ben Ross: NO! I have to push them until they get the point. I'm teaching these kids the most important lesson of their lives!

Ben Ross: [voiceover] Yes I remember the Wave, it was one of the most frightening classroom experiences I ever had. It all started when we were studying Nazi Germany.

Ben Ross: The people selected for extermination by the Nazis were herded into concentration camps located all over Eastern Europe. The life expectancy of prisoners in the camps was only 270 days. They were worked, starved, tortured, and when they couldn't work anymore they were exterminated in gas chambers and their remains were disposed of in ovens. In all the Nazis exterminated over 10 million men, women and children in these concentration camps.

Ben Ross: What you just saw took place in Germany between 1934 and 1945. The situation grew out of the aftermath of World War I; Germany had been defeated, leadership was at a low end, inflation was high, and thousands were homeless, hungry, jobless, and Hitler took advantage of the situation to establish himself and his Third Reich. You all know the rest, the camps, the killings, what resulted was the most efficient death machine ever devised.

Amy: Were all Germans Nazis?
Ben Ross: No, as a matter of fact less than 10% of the German population belonged to the Nazi party.
Amy: Then how come nobody tried to stop them?
Ben Ross: They said they didn't know it was happening. Eric.
Eric: How could you kill 10 million people without *somebody* noticing?
Peter: Yeah, that can't be true.
Ben Ross: Well after the war the Germans claimed they knew nothing of the concentration camps or the killings. Laurie.
Laurie: Eric's right, how could the Germans sit back while the Nazis slaughtered people all around them and say they didn't know anything about it? How could they do that? How could they say that?
Ben Ross: That was a very good question, Laurie.

Christy Ross: What're you reading that's so fascinating?
Ben Ross: Some terrific stuff here.
Christy Ross: Rise and Fall of the Third Reich? Hitler? What're you cramming for a degree in dictatorship?
Ben Ross: One of my students asked me a question I couldn't answer today.

Ben Ross: You wouldn't believe the homework assignments, they do what I give them and then they do more, they're asking all kinds of questions.
Christy Ross: These can't be some of the same kids I have for music.
Ben Ross: It's amazing how much more they like you when you make decisions for them.

Ben Ross: You know, the funny thing is I find myself getting caught up in it. It's contagious.
Christy Ross: Becoming a guinea pig in your own experiment, huh?

Ben Ross: Discipline and community are meaningless without action. Now discipline gives you the right to action, a disciplined group with a goal can take action like a well oiled machine. Through hard work and allegiance to each other, you will learn faster and accomplish more, but only if you support one another and only if you work together and obey the rules, can you ensure, the success of the Wave. Now you are all to actively recruit new members, each new member must demonstrate knowledge of our rules, and pledge strict obedience to them.
Robert: Mr. Ross, for the first time I feel like I'm part of something great.
Amy: Mr. Ross, this is like being born again.
Andrea: Mr. Ross, I feel the same way.
David: Mr. Ross, I am proud of the Wave.

Student at rally: [after the whole class tensely awaits a political candidate for the Wave to come on TV, and nothing happens] THERE IS NO LEADER, IS THERE?
Ben Ross: Yes there is!
[footage of Hitler appears on a large screen]
Ben Ross: THERE'S your leader!
[the students watch in shock]
Ben Ross: Now listen carefully, there is NO National Youth Movement. You thought you were so special, better than everyone outside this room, you traded your freedom for the luxury of feeling superior! You accepted the group's will over your own conviction, no matter who you hurt. Oh! you thought you were just going along for the ride, that you could WALK AWAY at any moment, but where were you heading? How far would you have gone? Take a look at your future!
[footage of Hitler youth]
Ben Ross: Yes, you would've all made good Nazis, you would've put on the uniforms, turned your heads, and allowed your friends and neighbors to be persecuted and destroyed. Fascism isn't something those OTHER people did, it's right here! In all of us! You asked 'How could the German people do nothing as millions of innocent human beings were murdered? How could they claim they weren't involved? What causes people to deny their own history?' Well if history repeats itself, you'll all want to DENY what has happened to you in the Wave. But if our experiment is successful, you'll have learned that we're all responsible for our own actions, and that you must question what you do rather than blindly follow a leader. And that for the rest of your lives, you'll never allow a group's will to usurp your individual rights. I know this has been painful for you, it certainly has been for me, but it's a lesson we'll all share for the rest of our lives.