During a week’s workshop on ‘forms of government’, high-school teacher Rainer Wenger sets up a project to have his students personally experience what dictatorship represents. Fairly innocent concepts like group pressure and discipline soon develop into a serious movement called ‘Die Welle’. After a few days, the students begin to exclude dissenters, turn critics of ‘Die Welle’ into enemies and put an end to long-standing friendships. Criticism of ‘Die Welle’ is answered with aggression and intimidation. Conflicts accumulate, until the situation inevitably escalates.