Joachim von Ribbentrop

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Joachim von Ribbentrop (1893-1946) was the Foreign Minister of Nazi Germany. He had no diplomatic background, but was able to gain the Foreign Ministry over several other Nazi Party competitors, in part because he did have foreign language skills. Never a member of Adolf Hitler's inner circle, he was even less so when the extension of national policies became military rather than diplomatic. Von Ribbetrop was tried and executed, principally for planning war, by the Trial of the Major War Criminals by the four-power International Military Tribunal.

He was particular about being called von Ribbentrop, although some claimed he had no right to the honorific. Both positions are partially correct; he became entitled to it when an aunt adopted him at the age of 32.

Early Party activity

Ribbentrop began working with the Party in 1930, according to testimony at Nuremberg. Ribbentrop played an important if not strikingly obvious part in the bringing about of the decisive meetings between the representatives of the President of the Reich and the heads of the NSDAP, who had prepared the entry of Nazis into power on 30 January 1933. Those meetings as well as those between Hitler and von Papen took place in Ribbentrop's house in Berlin Dahlen." [1]

He became a Party member in 1932 and offered his services as interpreter, setting up the Ribbentrop Bureau to provide the Party leadership with information. [2]


Hitler appointed him Ambassador to the United Kingdom in August 1936. Shirer described him as the worst possible choice for the post, "incompetent and lazy, vain as a peacock, arrogant and without humor." He quoted Hermann Goering, who said "When I criticized Hitler's quaifications to handle British problems, the Fuehrer pointed out to me that Ribbentrop" knew various British dignitaries. Goering countered "Yes, but the difficulty is that they know Ribbentrop."[3]

As Minister Plenipotentiary at Large, he negotiated the Anti-Comintern Pact two years before he became foreign minister. Foreign Minister Constantin von Neurath had refused to sign it. Von Neurath and von Papen said it was a violation of diplomatic usage for an ambassador, accredited to one country, to negotiate unrelated major agreements with another country. [4]

Foreign Minister

On 24 February 1938, he became Foreign Minister in place of Constantin von Neurath., and also became Secret Cabinet Council (Geheimer Kabinettsrat) established by decree of Hitler of the same date.


When presented with the indictment, he wrote "The indictment is directed against the wrong people", but, according to prison psychologist G.M Gilbert, he said, but would not to commit to writing, "We were all under Hitler's shadow." [5]


  1. Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression, vol. Volume II, Chapter XVI, at 489-515
  2. Airey Neave (1978), On Trial at Nuremberg, Little, Brown, pp. 81-83
  3. William Shirer (1960), The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, Simon & Schuster, p. 298
  4. G.M. Gilbert (1947), Nuremberg Diary, Farrar, Strauss, pp. 225-226
  5. Gilbert, p. 5