Last known surviving Nazi Party member?

It’s been 75 years since Hitler ate a bullet; even members of the Hitler Youth and League of German Girls are over 80. When did the last full fledged member of the Nazi Party die (or is one still alive)?

A quick google shows that Gerhard Sommer is still alive at the age of 99. He joined the Nazi Party and then the SS when he turned 18 in 1939.

It’s a virtual certainty that there are many more living members. In 1945, there were 8 million members on the books, representing about 10% of the entire population of Germany. The minimum age to join was 18, so the youngest party members were born in 1927, and they would be 93 years old today. The party demographics skewed young; this was especially true in its earlier years but probably remained so throughout the rest of its existence, thanks to mandatory, institutionalized pathways to membership (i.e., the Hitler Youth and the League of German Girls). So it’s quite likely that more than 10% of people who reached adulthood under Nazi rule became members.

But let’s use 10% as an estimated lower bound. According to the UN’s population data, Germany currently has 436,031 residents aged 93 or older, so to a first approximation, 43,603 of these may be former NSDAP members. Of course, this fails to take into account effects such as immigration and emigration. Another way of calculating things would be to look at the demographics of mid-1945 Germany, broken down by age, and use life expectancy estimates to calculate how many adults back then are likely still alive now. But I’m not sure where to find the necessary data for that—the UN population statistics go back only as far as 1950, and I don’t know how to find the life expectancy for each age group.

Party membership was not particularly special in Nazi Germany; if you had a civil service job, you practically had to become a party member lest your career prospects when down the drain, and many private sector employees or businesspeople joined, either out of ideological beliefs or for opportunistic considerations. Some regional offices of the party tried to curry favour with superiors by reporting high numbers of newly joined recruits, and consequently had lax admission standards; this gave rise to claims from notable people post-1945 who, when it was found out that they had been party members, claimed that the party had enrolled them without them knowing it (historians remain divided as to whether this really happened, or is just made up). It’s not as if party membership alone put you into some sort of inner power circle.

n this respect, the Nazis differed from the Communist parties in Eastern Europe (including East Germany), where the parties were more selective in whom they’d accept as a member. Many Germans of my generation (I was born in the early 1980s) still had one or more party members among their grandparents etc.; it was so common that my (deceased) grandmother, born in 1913, made it an anecdote that, despite her public sector job, she was, to the astonishment of neighbours, not a party member.

So yes, it was common enough that there are definitely many former party members still alive.