We explore the relationship between Nazi membership and social advancement using a unique and highly detailed dataset of the German military during the Third Reich. We find that membership of a Nazi organisation is positively related to social advancement when measured by the difference between fathers’ and sons’ occupations. However, we find that this observed difference is mainly driven by individuals with different characteristics self-selecting into these organisations, rather than from a direct reward to membership. This result is supported by an instrumental variable approach that uses the location of Catholic priests sympathetic to the Nazis as an instrument for Nazi membership. In addition, we explore the determinants of Nazi membership. We find that NS membership is associated with higher socio-economic background and human capital levels, in line with occupational choice models of radicalisation.