Question: What percentage of the Nazis were highly educated men?
The Nazi's did not come to power based upon their vision or intelligence. They came to power based upon intimidation, brutality and ruthlessness. Not proclivities one generally associates with "highly educated". Still some Nazi's did have educational backgrounds. Which only demonstrates bureaucracy education isn't always an indicator of intelligence. Hard to put a number on it but if pressed I'd go with .0002%.
As previously stated to answer this question it must be broken down into parts. Prior to seizing power how educated were the Nazi's? For that part the answer is the Nazi's were not smart people. They were more ruthless than they were intellectual. They did learn to use smart people either through intimidation or by appealing to their ambition or greed. In general their message did not appeal to intellectuals but to the mob. Working people who had lost much in the Great Depression and were looking to place blame. These were the people who made up the bulk of the Nazi's early followers. The Nazi's betrayed these followers in order to receive favors from the government and military. A classic trading up move (see Sturmabteilung and night of the long knives ). Once inside the government through appointment, the Nazi's seized power, they never won a national election. They were never a majority political party. They were not voted into national office. They were always a minority party, who used their minority political support along with their propensity for violence to seize power.
Once in power they were able to use the power of the government along with the finances to coerce, bribe, entice and seduce more sophisticated Germans to support them.
Germany's National Socialists were branded with the term Nazi. They did not choose the word for themselves nor did they typically use the term to describe themselves. Evidently they were bright enough to know an insult when they heard it. The term Nazi was a derogative which meant bumpkin, or backwards peasant prior to it being used by rival political parties label Hitler's national socialists. Hitler's national socialists did not use the term Nazi's to describe themselves. or did so only rarely.
I say "they came to power because people liked the offering
The numbers just don't demonstrate that. Their best electoral showing was in the july 1932 election where they won 230 seats in the Reichstag; bringing their total percentage up to 37%. That was their peak. They were not invited to form a government, they were not invited into the government. The next election Nov 1932 they lost 32 seats. End of Jan 1932, the 86 year old Hindinburg, orchestrated by Franz von Papen; makes a deal with Hitler giving the Nazi's (NSDAP) 3 out of 20 cabinet posts. Hitler was named chancellor, Wilhelm Frick Minister of the Interior, and Hermann Göring, Minister Without Portfolio (and Minister of the Interior for Prussia). Franz von Papen became vice chancellor controlling the majority of the 20 cabinet posts; mistakenly believed he could control and tame Hitler. Hitler used those 3 cabinet seats coupled with intense street violence, and intimidation campaign to seize absolute power. The culmination of which was the "enabling act" March 23, 1933; which gave Hitler power to pass laws without the involvement of the Reichstag; Never having obtained a ruling majority or coalition in the German government through democratic means.
Under US electoral college conditions, that's quite a clear democratic vote result… under German conditions then and now it would be called "Voter mandate to form the government". Otherwise very few German governments would have ever been legitimate?
I agree that 37% of the Reichstag was significant. I agree it was even enough support to have been invited to form a government. Only the facts remain. even with 37% the Nazis(NSDAP) were not invited to form a government. No other party would work with them. Nor were they invited into government. They were the largest party in the Reichstag and were still locked out of leadership. The only way any of their political opposition would agree to include them in leadership was as a sever minority role. Which is what Von Papen negotiated in Jan 1933. The Nazi's were the largest part of the government which brought Hitler in as chancellor, yet they were forced to accept only two other seats in the cabinet.. 3 seats for the Nazi's and 17 seats for the other minority government coalition.
The Nazi's never came to power through democratic means. They leveraged about a third of the seats in the Reichstag to get their foot in the door of leadership and then used terror, intimidation and ruthlessness to seize power.
Otherwise very few German governments would have ever been legitimate?
Every German Government which came to power "legitimately" was invited to do so by the President of the Reichstag after having demonstrated the ability to form a majority. The Nazi's never demonstrated that ability. Thus they never were invited to form a government. Thus they never democratically came to power. They ultimately entered into a compromise coalition with other minority parties lead by Conservative Party member Franz Von Papen.
@LangLangC in '32 NS had a majority, a clear majority, a relative majority with a vast advantage over the next best. No other party ever in the preceding years had such a large majority or was ever required to have so many votes, or an absolute majority.
By definition a majority is a number or percentage equaling more than half of a total. The Nazi's never had a majority, nor were they ever able to form a political alliance in which they controlled a majority. If they had they would have been able to form a government. Yes they were the largest party, but still only 37% of the total at their peak in 1932.
@LangLangC What you emphasize with "Pres invites" was one of the other undemocratic design flaws of the system. As von Papen already abused the system and completely ignored democracy or parliament, one would have to say that NS gov was more democratically legitimated than the preceding ones…
I always enjoy your comments. They are always well thought out and interesting.
I would say Republics are not the same as Democracies. One of the stated benefits of a Republic is it's more difficult for a charlatan to gain power in a republic. Given in a Republic representatives for the people make decisions on behalf of the people. I would argue one check on a populist charlatan from gaining office is that he has to control an absolute majority of the seats in the Reichstag. To control the government a majority of the peoples decision makers must concur. That the Nazi's were not able to accomplish either is not an abuse of democratic principals so much as it's a demonstration of republic advantages over a democracy. After all it was a Democracy which killed Socrates motivating Plato to invent the republic to protect minorities from the tyranny of the majority.
Now I think you are right that Von Hindenburg believed being the majority party the Nazi's should be represented in leadership. What they decided on was Hitler could be chancellor but not to permit him real power. The Nazi's would only control two additional cabinet spots. while Franz von Papen and the rest of the coalition assembled by Papen would control the other 17 cabinet spots.