Joachim von Ribbentrop

Joachim von Ribbentrop

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Ulrich Friedrich Wilhelm Joachim von Ribbentrop (30 April 1893 – 16 October 1946) was Foreign Minister of Germany
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Germany)
The Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs is the head of the Federal Foreign Office and a member of the Cabinet of Germany. The current office holder is Guido Westerwelle...

 from 1938 until 1945. He was later hanged
Hanging
Hanging is the lethal suspension of a person by a ligature. The Oxford English Dictionary states that hanging in this sense is "specifically to put to death by suspension by the neck", though it formerly also referred to crucifixion and death by impalement in which the body would remain...

 for war crimes after the Nuremberg Trials
Nuremberg Trials
The Nuremberg Trials were a series of military tribunals, held by the victorious Allied forces of World War II, most notable for the prosecution of prominent members of the political, military, and economic leadership of the defeated Nazi Germany....

.

Early life


Joachim von Ribbentrop was born in Wesel
Wesel
Wesel is a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is the capital of the Wesel district.-Division of the town:Suburbs of Wesel include Lackhausen, Obrighoven, Ginderich, Feldmark,Fusternberg, Büderich, Flüren and Blumenkamp.-History:...

, Rhenish Prussia
Rhine Province
The Rhine Province , also known as Rhenish Prussia or synonymous to the Rhineland , was the westernmost province of the Kingdom of Prussia and the Free State of Prussia, within the German Reich, from 1822-1946. It was created from the provinces of the Lower Rhine and Jülich-Cleves-Berg...

, the son of Richard Ulrich Friedrich Joachim Ribbentrop, a career army officer, and his wife Johanne Sophie Hertwig. Ribbentrop was educated irregularly at private schools in Germany and Switzerland. From 1904 to 1908, Ribbentrop took courses in French in a school at Metz
Metz
Metz is a city in the northeast of France located at the confluence of the Moselle and the Seille rivers.Metz is the capital of the Lorraine region and prefecture of the Moselle department. Located near the tripoint along the junction of France, Germany, and Luxembourg, Metz forms a central place...

, the most powerful fortress of the German Empire
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

. One of his teachers at Metz later recalled that Ribbentrop "was the most stupid in his class, full of vanity and very pushy". His father was cashiered from the Imperial German Army in 1908, following a series of disparaging remarks he had made about the alleged homosexuality of Kaiser Wilhelm II, and the Ribbentrop family were often short of money. Fluent in both French and English, young Ribbentrop lived at various times in Grenoble
Grenoble
Grenoble is a city in southeastern France, at the foot of the French Alps where the river Drac joins the Isère. Located in the Rhône-Alpes region, Grenoble is the capital of the department of Isère...

, France, and London, before travelling to Canada in 1910. Initially, Ribbentrop planned to emigrate to the colony of German East Africa
German East Africa
German East Africa was a German colony in East Africa, which included what are now :Burundi, :Rwanda and Tanganyika . Its area was , nearly three times the size of Germany today....

, where he had hopes of being a planter. During a summer vacation in Switzerland in 1909, Ribbentrop fell in love with a wealthy young socialite from a Montreal banking family named Catherine Bell, which led him to substitute Canada for Tanganyika as his choice of destination. Right up until 1914, Ribbentrop maintained hopes of marrying Bell, and so despite his constant wandering across North America, it was always towards Montreal that he was driven to return to time after time. He worked for the Molsons Bank on Stanley Street
Stanley Street, Montreal
Stanley Street is a north-south street located in downtown Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It links Doctor Penfield Avenue in the north and De la Gauchetière Street in the south...

 in Montreal
Montreal
Montreal is a city in Canada. It is the largest city in the province of Quebec, the second-largest city in Canada and the seventh largest in North America...

 and then for the engineering firm M.P. and J.T. Davis on the reconstruction of the Quebec Bridge
Quebec Bridge
right|thumb|Lifting the centre span in place was considered to be a major engineering achievement. Photo caption from [[Popular Mechanics]] Magazine, December 1917...

. He was also employed by the National Transcontinental Railway
National Transcontinental Railway
The National Transcontinental Railway was a historic Canadian railway between Winnipeg and Moncton. Much of the line is now operated by the Canadian National Railway.-The Grand Trunk partnership:...

, which constructed a line from Moncton to Winnipeg
Winnipeg
Winnipeg is the capital and largest city of Manitoba, Canada, and is the primary municipality of the Winnipeg Capital Region, with more than half of Manitoba's population. It is located near the longitudinal centre of North America, at the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers .The name...

. He worked as a journalist in New York City and Boston
Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

 and then rested to recover from tuberculosis
Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis, MTB, or TB is a common, and in many cases lethal, infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis usually attacks the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body...

 in Germany. He returned to Canada and set up a small business in Ottawa importing German wine and champagne. In 1914, he competed for Ottawa's famous Minto
Minto
-Places:Antarctica*Mount Minto Australia*Minto, New South WalesCanada*Minto , a provincial electoral division in Manitoba*Minto, Manitoba, a community located in the Rural Municipality of Whitewater.*Minto, New Brunswick...

 ice-skating team, participating in the Ellis Memorial Trophy tournament in Boston in February.

When World War I began, Ribbentrop left Canada, which as part of the British Empire was at war with Germany as of 4 August 1914 for the neutral United States. He sailed from Hoboken, New Jersey
Hoboken, New Jersey
Hoboken is a city in Hudson County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city's population was 50,005. The city is part of the New York metropolitan area and contains Hoboken Terminal, a major transportation hub for the region...

 on 15 August 1914 on the Holland-America
Holland America Line
The Holland America Line is a cruise shipping company. It was founded in 1873 as the Netherlands-America Steamship Company , a shipping and passenger line. Headquartered in Rotterdam and providing service to the Americas, it became known as Holland America Line...

 ship The Potsdam, bound for Rotterdam
Rotterdam
Rotterdam is the second-largest city in the Netherlands and one of the largest ports in the world. Starting as a dam on the Rotte river, Rotterdam has grown into a major international commercial centre...

. He then returned home and enlisted in the 125th Hussar
Hussar
Hussar refers to a number of types of light cavalry which originated in Hungary in the 14th century, tracing its roots from Serbian medieval cavalry tradition, brought to Hungary in the course of the Serb migrations, which began in the late 14th century....

 Regiment.

He served first on the Eastern Front
Eastern Front (World War I)
The Eastern Front was a theatre of war during World War I in Central and, primarily, Eastern Europe. The term is in contrast to the Western Front. Despite the geographical separation, the events in the two theatres strongly influenced each other...

, but was later transferred to the Western Front
Western Front (World War I)
Following the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the German Army opened the Western Front by first invading Luxembourg and Belgium, then gaining military control of important industrial regions in France. The tide of the advance was dramatically turned with the Battle of the Marne...

. He earned a commission and was awarded the Iron Cross
Iron Cross
The Iron Cross is a cross symbol typically in black with a white or silver outline that originated after 1219 when the Kingdom of Jerusalem granted the Teutonic Order the right to combine the Teutonic Black Cross placed above a silver Cross of Jerusalem....

. In 1918 1st Lieutenant Ribbentrop was stationed in Istanbul
Istanbul
Istanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...

 as a staff officer. During his time in Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

, he became friends with another staff officer named Franz von Papen
Franz von Papen
Lieutenant-Colonel Franz Joseph Hermann Michael Maria von Papen zu Köningen was a German nobleman, Roman Catholic monarchist politician, General Staff officer, and diplomat, who served as Chancellor of Germany in 1932 and as Vice-Chancellor under Adolf Hitler in 1933–1934...

.

Family


In 1919 Ribbentrop met Anna Elisabeth Henkell, known as Annelies to her friends, daughter of a wealthy champagne producer from Wiesbaden. They married on 5 July 1920, and Ribbentrop travelled across Europe as a wine salesman. He and his wife had five children. Annelies von Ribbentrop was often described as being a Lady Macbeth
Lady Macbeth
Lady Macbeth may refer to:*Lady Macbeth, from William Shakespeare's play Macbeth**Queen Gruoch of Scotland, the real-life Queen on whom Shakespeare based the character...

-type who dominated her husband. Ribbentrop persuaded his aunt Gertrud von Ribbentrop to adopt him on 15 May 1925, which allowed him to add the aristocratic
Aristocracy
Aristocracy , is a form of government in which a few elite citizens rule. The term derives from the Greek aristokratia, meaning "rule of the best". In origin in Ancient Greece, it was conceived of as rule by the best qualified citizens, and contrasted with monarchy...

 von
Von
In German, von is a preposition which approximately means of or from.When it is used as a part of a German family name, it is usually a nobiliary particle, like the French, Spanish and Portuguese "de". At certain times and places, it has been illegal for anyone who was not a member of the nobility...

 to his name. During most of the Weimar Republic
Weimar Republic
The Weimar Republic is the name given by historians to the parliamentary republic established in 1919 in Germany to replace the imperial form of government...

 era, Ribbentrop was apolitical and displayed no anti-Semitic
Anti-Semitism
Antisemitism is suspicion of, hatred toward, or discrimination against Jews for reasons connected to their Jewish heritage. According to a 2005 U.S...

 prejudices. A visitor to a party thrown by Ribbentrop in 1928 recorded that Ribbentrop had no political views beyond a vague admiration for Gustav Stresemann
Gustav Stresemann
was a German politician and statesman who served as Chancellor and Foreign Minister during the Weimar Republic. He was co-laureate of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1926.Stresemann's politics defy easy categorization...

, fear of Communism and a wish to restore the monarchy. Several Berlin Jewish businessmen who did business with Ribbentrop in the 1920s and knew him well later expressed astonishment at the vicious anti-Semitism Ribbentrop was to display in the Third Reich, saying that they did not see any indications that he had held such views when they had known him. As a wealthy partner in the Henckel-Trocken champagne firm, Ribbentrop did business with Jewish bankers, and organized the Impegroma Importing Company ("Import und Export großer Marken") with Jewish financing.

Early Nazi career


In 1928, Ribbentrop was introduced to Hitler as a man who "gets the same price for German champagne as others get for French champagne" as well as a businessman with foreign connections. Ribbentrop was introduced to the Nazis by the SA leader Count Wolf-Heinrich von Helldorf
Wolf-Heinrich Graf von Helldorf
Wolf-Heinrich Graf von Helldorf was a leading figure in the Nazi regime.-Early life:Helldorf was born in Merseburg, a landowner's son, Helldorf served as a lieutenant from 1915 in the First World War, and from 1918 was a member of the Prussian state assembly.-Berlin chief of police:Already by...

, with whom Ribbentrop had served in the 12th Torgau Hussars in the First World War. He joined the National Socialist German Workers' Party on 1 May 1932 at the urging of his wife, who herself joined the NSDAP at the same time. His NSDAP card number was 1,199,927. In the summer of 1932, Ribbentrop began his political career when he offered to be a secret emissary between the Chancellor, Ribbentrop’s old war buddy Franz von Papen
Franz von Papen
Lieutenant-Colonel Franz Joseph Hermann Michael Maria von Papen zu Köningen was a German nobleman, Roman Catholic monarchist politician, General Staff officer, and diplomat, who served as Chancellor of Germany in 1932 and as Vice-Chancellor under Adolf Hitler in 1933–1934...

 and Hitler. Ribbentrop's offer was refused at the time, but six months later, in January 1933, Ribbentrop's offer was taken up by Hitler and von Papen.

In January 1933, there was a complex set of intrigues which saw the former Chancellor Franz von Papen
Franz von Papen
Lieutenant-Colonel Franz Joseph Hermann Michael Maria von Papen zu Köningen was a German nobleman, Roman Catholic monarchist politician, General Staff officer, and diplomat, who served as Chancellor of Germany in 1932 and as Vice-Chancellor under Adolf Hitler in 1933–1934...

 and various friends of the President Paul von Hindenburg
Paul von Hindenburg
Paul Ludwig Hans Anton von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg , known universally as Paul von Hindenburg was a Prussian-German field marshal, statesman, and politician, and served as the second President of Germany from 1925 to 1934....

 negotiating with Hitler to oust the Chancellor, General Kurt von Schleicher
Kurt von Schleicher
Kurt von Schleicher was a German general and the last Chancellor of Germany during the era of the Weimar Republic. Seventeen months after his resignation, he was assassinated by order of his successor, Adolf Hitler, in the Night of the Long Knives....

, who in turn had ousted von Papen as Chancellor in December 1932. The end result of these talks was the appointment of Hitler as Chancellor on 30 January 1933. Ribbentrop, who was both a Nazi Party member and an old friend of von Papen, facilitated the negotiations by arranging for von Papen and Hitler to meet secretly at his house in Berlin. This assistance endeared Ribbentrop to Hitler.

On 18 January 1933, Hitler had the first of several secret meetings with von Papen at Ribbentrop's house in the exclusive Dahlem
Dahlem (Berlin)
Dahlem is a locality of the Steglitz-Zehlendorf borough in southwestern Berlin. Until Berlin's 2001 administrative reform it was a part of the former borough of Zehlendorf. Dahlem is one of the most affluent parts of the city and home to the main campus of the Free University of Berlin with the...

 district of Berlin. It was over dinner at Ribbentrop's house on the evening of 22 January 1933 that von Papen made the fateful concession that if the government of General von Schleicher were to fall, he would abandon his demand for the Chancellorship and instead use his influence with President von Hindenburg to ensure that the Chancellorship went to Hitler. Among Ribbentrop's guests that night were Hitler; von Papen; Hermann Göring
Hermann Göring
Hermann Wilhelm Göring, was a German politician, military leader, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. He was a veteran of World War I as an ace fighter pilot, and a recipient of the coveted Pour le Mérite, also known as "The Blue Max"...

, Major Oskar von Hindenburg
Oskar von Hindenburg
Generalleutnant Oskar von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg was the politically powerful son and aide-de-camp to Field Marshal and President of Germany Paul von Hindenburg....

, the politically powerful son of the President and Otto Meißner
Otto Meißner
Otto Meißner was head of the Office of the President of Germany during the entire period of the Weimar Republic under Friedrich Ebert and Paul von Hindenburg and, finally, at the beginning of the Nazi era under Adolf Hitler.-Life:The son of a postal official, Meißner studied law in Strasbourg from...

, the Presidential State Secretary. Both the younger Hindenburg and Meissner, who had long been equally opposed to seeing Hitler as Chancellor left after that dinner believing that they could accept Hitler as Chancellor as they believed that von Papen could control him from behind the scenes, and consequently set about using their influence with President von Hindenburg to persuade him to appoint Hitler Chancellor. At another secret meeting at Ribbentrop's house, this time without Hitler, on 24 January 1933 that Hermann Göring
Hermann Göring
Hermann Wilhelm Göring, was a German politician, military leader, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. He was a veteran of World War I as an ace fighter pilot, and a recipient of the coveted Pour le Mérite, also known as "The Blue Max"...

, Wilhelm Frick
Wilhelm Frick
Wilhelm Frick was a prominent German Nazi official serving as Minister of the Interior of the Third Reich. After the end of World War II, he was tried for war crimes at the Nuremberg Trials and executed...

, Ribbentrop and von Papen worked out the plan that the best way of overcoming President von Hindenburg's opposition to appointing Hitler Chancellor was by creating a right-wing "government of national concentration" that would ensure the Chancellorship went to Hitler while giving the impression that Hitler's power would be limited by creating a coalition government of all the German right. On 27 January 1933, Ribbentrop invited Alfred Hugenberg
Alfred Hugenberg
Alfred Ernst Christian Alexander Hugenberg was an influential German businessman and politician. Hugenberg, a leading figure within nationalist politics in Germany for the first few decades of the twentieth century, became the country's leading media proprietor within the inter-war period...

, the leader of the D.N.V.P
German National People's Party
The German National People's Party was a national conservative party in Germany during the time of the Weimar Republic. Before the rise of the NSDAP it was the main nationalist party in Weimar Germany composed of nationalists, reactionary monarchists, völkisch, and antisemitic elements, and...

 to a secret meeting at his house in an attempt to win his participation in the proposed "government of national concentration" that nearly scuttled Hitler's chances of getting the Chancellorship when Hugenberg objected to Hitler's proposed Cabinet line-up, complaining that too many portfolios went to the Nazis and not enough to the D.N.V.P. Ribbentrop played a key role together with von Papen in persuading Hitler at a meeting at the Kaiserhof Hotel on 28 January 1933 to back down on his demand that the office of Reich Commissioner of Prussia go to a Nazi that threatened to block Hitler's chances of getting the Chancellorship. Ribbentrop successfully argued to Hitler that Hindenburg might reluctantly appoint Hitler Chancellor, but that the President would never back down on his condition that Papen be the Reich Commissioner of Prussia, and that be so close to power, that now was not the time to be stubborn over a secondary office. On 30 January 1933, Hitler was sworn in as Chancellor by President Hindenburg.

Because Ribbentrop was a latecomer to the Nazi Party, the Alte Kämpfer (Old Fighters) of the party disliked him. The British historian Laurence Rees described Ribbentrop as "...the Nazi almost all the other leading Nazis hated" Typical of this hatred for Ribbentrop was the diary
Diary
A diary is a record with discrete entries arranged by date reporting on what has happened over the course of a day or other period. A personal diary may include a person's experiences, and/or thoughts or feelings, including comment on current events outside the writer's direct experience. Someone...

 entry of Joseph Goebbels
Joseph Goebbels
Paul Joseph Goebbels was a German politician and Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945. As one of Adolf Hitler's closest associates and most devout followers, he was known for his zealous oratory and anti-Semitism...

: "Von Ribbentrop bought his name, he married his money, and he swindled his way into office". To compensate for this, Ribbentrop became a fanatical Nazi, almost to the point of becoming a caricature of a Nazi brought to life. In particular, Ribbentrop became a vociferous anti-Semite.

He became German dictator Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

's favourite foreign policy
Foreign policy
A country's foreign policy, also called the foreign relations policy, consists of self-interest strategies chosen by the state to safeguard its national interests and to achieve its goals within international relations milieu. The approaches are strategically employed to interact with other countries...

 adviser, partly by dint of his knowledge of the world outside Germany, but mostly by means of shameless flattery and sycophancy. The professional diplomats of the elite Auswärtiges Amt (Foreign Office) told Hitler the truth about what was happening abroad in the early years of Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

; Ribbentrop told Hitler what he wanted Hitler to hear. One German diplomat, Herbert Richter, in an interview later recalled "Ribbentrop didn't understand anything about foreign policy. His sole wish was to please Hitler". In particular, Ribbentrop acquired the habit of listening carefully to what Hitler was saying, memorizing pet ideas of the Führer, and then later presenting Hitler's ideas as his own – a practice that much impressed Hitler as proving Ribbentrop was an ideal National Socialist diplomat. To assist with this, Ribbentrop always questioned those who had lunch with Hitler about what he had said, thereby allowing Ribbentrop at his next meeting with Hitler to present Hitler's ideas as his own. Ribbentrop quickly learned that Hitler always favoured the most radical solution to any problem, and accordingly tended his advice in that direction. As one of Ribbentrop's aides, the SS man Reinhard Spitzy, recalled:
"When Hitler said 'Grey', Ribbentrop said 'Black, black, black'. He always said it three times more, and he was always more radical. I listened to what Hitler said one day when Ribbentrop wasn't present: 'With Ribbentrop it is so easy, he is always so radical. Meanwhile, all the other people I have, they come here, they have problems, they are afraid, they think we should take care and then I have to blow them up, to get strong. And Ribbentrop was blowing up the whole day and I had to do nothing. I had to brake – much better!'"
Ribbentrop in turn was a great admirer of Hitler. Ribbentrop was emotionally dependent on Hitler's favour to the extent that he suffered from psychosomatic illnesses if Hitler was unhappy with him. In 1933 he was given honorary SS officer rank of SS-Standartenführer. His SS membership number was 63,083. For a time, Ribbentrop was friendly with the Reichsführer-SS
Reichsführer-SS
was a special SS rank that existed between the years of 1925 and 1945. Reichsführer-SS was a title from 1925 to 1933 and, after 1934, the highest rank of the German Schutzstaffel .-Definition:...

 Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Luitpold Himmler was Reichsführer of the SS, a military commander, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. As Chief of the German Police and the Minister of the Interior from 1943, Himmler oversaw all internal and external police and security forces, including the Gestapo...

, but ultimately the two became enemies mostly because the SS insisted upon the right to conduct its own foreign policy independent of Ribbentrop.

A factor that much helped Ribbentrop's rise was Hitler's distrust and disdain of the professional diplomats of the Auswärtiges Amt, who he suspected were not entirely in favor of his revolution. In fact, as the German historian Hans-Adolf Jacobsen pointed out, the diplomats of the Auswärtiges Amt loyally served the Nazi regime and only rarely gave Hitler grounds for attacking them. The values and attitudes of the Auswärtiges Amt owed more to the nationalism of Wilhelmine Germany, under which most of the diplomats had begun their careers, than to the racist nationalism of the Nazis; but as the views of the traditional diplomats were ultra-nationalist, authoritarian, and anti-Semitic, there was enough overlap in values between the two groups to allow most of the traditional diplomats to work comfortably for the Nazis. This was especially the case as the men of the Auswärtiges Amt shared the goal of totally destroying the Treaty of Versailles and the "restoration of Germany as a great power" with the Nazis. When the Nazis came to power, there was only one resignation from the Auswärtiges Amt with German Ambassador to the United States Friedrich Wilhelm von Prittwitz und Gaffron
Friedrich Wilhelm von Prittwitz und Gaffron
Friedrich Wilhelm von Prittwitz und Gaffron was a German Ambassador to the United States under the Weimar Republic, from 1928 until April 14, 1933. He was in office at the time that Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany, and resigned from the diplomatic corps in protest the day after Hitler was...

 quitting in March 1933 because he could not in good conscience serve the Nazi regime; every other senior diplomat remained at his post. Almost all of the diplomats of the Auswärtiges Amt in 1933 came from the German upper classes (with a disproportionate number coming from the nobility), had an average age of 52, began their careers in the Second Reich, saw themselves as part of an exclusive elite group and held extremely conservative views. Even those diplomats who did not entirely agree with the Nazis, were still inclined to serve the Nazi regime as the best way of serving Germany. Despite this, Hitler never quite trusted the Auswärtiges Amt, and was always on the lookout for someone like Ribbentrop who would carry out the sort of National Socialist foreign policy that Hitler did not believe that the Auswärtiges Amt capable.

Travelling diplomat


Ribbentrop began his work as an unofficial diplomat in the summer of 1933 with a series of visits to Paris. Using the intermediary of Fernand de Brinon
Fernand de Brinon
Fernand de Brinon, Marquis de Brinon was a French lawyer and journalist who was one of the architects of French collaboration with the Nazis during World War II...

, Ribbentrop was able to meet the French Premier Édouard Daladier
Édouard Daladier
Édouard Daladier was a French Radical politician and the Prime Minister of France at the start of the Second World War.-Career:Daladier was born in Carpentras, Vaucluse. Later, he would become known to many as "the bull of Vaucluse" because of his thick neck and large shoulders and determined...

 in September 1933. Ribbentrop tried to set up a secret summit between Daladier and Hitler, only to be told by Daladier that the idea of a secret Franco-German summit was unacceptable as it was inevitable that the French press would discover the secret summit. In October 1933, the German Foreign Minister Baron Konstantin von Neurath
Konstantin von Neurath
Konstantin Freiherr von Neurath was a German diplomat remembered mostly for having served as Foreign minister of Germany between 1932 and 1938...

 had presented a note at the World Disarmament Conference
World Disarmament Conference
The Conference for the Reduction and Limitation of Armaments of 1932-34 was an effort by member states of the League of Nations, together with the U.S. and the Soviet Union, to actualize the ideology of disarmament...

 announcing that it was unfair that Germany should remain disarmed by Part V of the Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of...

, and demanded that either the other powers disarmed down to the same level as Germany was forced to do by Versailles or that Part V should be abolished by allowing Germany Gleichberechtigung (“equality of armaments”). When France rejected Neurath's note, Germany stormed out of both the League of Nations and the World Disarmament Conference, and all but announced its intention to unilaterally violate Part V. As a result, there were several calls in France in the fall of 1933 for a preventive war
Preventive war
A preventive war or preventative war is a war initiated to prevent another party from attacking, when an attack by that party is not imminent or known to be planned. Preventive war aims to forestall a shift in the balance of power by strategically attacking before the balance of power has a chance...

 to put an end to the Nazi regime while Germany was still more or less disarmed. In November 1933, Ribbentrop was able to arrange a meeting between de Brinon, who was writing for the Le Matin
Le Matin (France)
Le Matin was a French daily newspaper created in 1883 and discontinued in 1944.Le Matin was launched on the initiative of Chamberlain & Co, a group of American financiers, in 1883, on the model of the British daily The Morning News. The direction of the project was entrusted to the French...

 newspaper and Hitler, during which Hitler stressed what he claimed to be his love of peace and his friendship towards France. Hitler's meeting with de Brinon had a huge impact on French public opinion, and helped to put an end to the calls for a preventive war by convincing many in France that Hitler was a man of peace who only wanted to do away with Part V of Versailles because it was "humiliating" for Germany to be disarmed by Versailles while other countries were not

In November 1933, Ribbentrop made his first visit to London as an unofficial diplomat when he was able to use an old associate from his wine-selling days, the British whisky tycoon Ernest Tennant, to set up meetings with the Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald
Ramsay MacDonald
James Ramsay MacDonald, PC, FRS was a British politician who was the first ever Labour Prime Minister, leading a minority government for two terms....

, the Lord President Stanley Baldwin
Stanley Baldwin
Stanley Baldwin, 1st Earl Baldwin of Bewdley, KG, PC was a British Conservative politician, who dominated the government in his country between the two world wars...

 and Foreign Secretary Sir John Simon
John Simon, 1st Viscount Simon
John Allsebrook Simon, 1st Viscount Simon GCSI GCVO OBE PC was a British politician who held senior Cabinet posts from the beginning of the First World War to the end of the Second. He is one of only three people to have served as Home Secretary, Foreign Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer,...

. Nothing of any substance emerged from these talks. Up to the time of his appointment as German Foreign Minister, Ribbentrop aggressively competed with the Auswärtiges Amt
Foreign Office (Germany)
The Foreign Office is the foreign ministry of Germany, a federal agency responsible for both the country's foreign politics and its relationship with the European Union. From 1871 to 1919, it was led by a Foreign Secretary, and since 1919, it has been led by the Foreign Minister of Germany...

 (Foreign Office) and sought to undercut the current Foreign Minister, Baron Konstantin von Neurath
Konstantin von Neurath
Konstantin Freiherr von Neurath was a German diplomat remembered mostly for having served as Foreign minister of Germany between 1932 and 1938...

, at every turn. Initially, Neurath held his rival in contempt, regarding anyone whose written German, to say nothing of his English and French, was full of atrocious spelling and grammatical mistakes to be unworthy of attention. Speaking of views of Prince Bernard von Bülow, the State Secretary at the Auswärtiges Amt between 1930–1936 and the nephew of the former Chancellor Bernhard von Bülow
Bernhard von Bülow
Bernhard Heinrich Karl Martin von Bülow , named in 1905 Prince von Bülow, was a German statesman who served as Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs for three years and then as Chancellor of the German Empire from 1900 to 1909.Bülow was described as possessing every quality except greatness...

, one contemporary recalled that "Bülow could not regard as a serious competitor a man who had no formal training in diplomacy, who could not write a report in correct German, who did not listen carefully enough to the remarks of foreign statesmen to interpret them correctly, and who insisted upon seeing possibilities of alliance [with Britain] where none existed".

In March 1934, Ribbentrop visited France, where he met the Foreign Minister Louis Barthou
Louis Barthou
Jean Louis Barthou was a French politician of the Third Republic.-Early years:He was born in Oloron-Sainte-Marie, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, and served as Deputy from that constituency. He was an authority on trade union history and law. Barthou was Prime Minister in 1913, and held ministerial office...

. During the meeting, Ribbentrop suggested that Barthou meet with Hitler at once to sign a Franco-German non-aggression pact. Ribbentrop's intention in proposing a 10 year Franco-German non-aggression pact was to buy time for completing German rearmament by removing preventive war as a French policy option. Barthou was forced to explain to Ribbentrop that he was not a dictator, and since France was a democracy, he would have to meet and discuss with the Cabinet before opening talks on a non-aggression pact. Barthou commented to Ribbentrop about Hitler that "The words are of peace, but the actions are of war". The Barthou-Ribbentrop meeting further estranged Neurath, who was infuriated that Ribbentrop met Barthou without bothering to inform the Auswärtiges Amt beforehand. In a report to President von Hindenburg, Neurath wrote:
"Such agents have often been active in the past and especially since the war. Their success and hence their usefulness is generally slight. In particular, it has been shown by experience that their connections are quickly used up. As soon as they meet with government members, the question concerning the official or semi-official nature of their instructions or mission is soon raised. Responsible statesmen naturally refuse to commit themselves to agents without responsibility. With that, the activity of these intermediaries in most cases comes to an end. Thus, in London recently Baldwin referred Herr Ribbentrop to Sir John Simon as the Minister responsible for questions of foreign policy. M. Barthou has now complained to Ambassador Köster about the manner of bringing in Herr Ribbentrop. From secret reports, it appears that M. Barthou was far from pleased with the visit and therefore treated Herr von Ribbentrop in a decidedly sarcastic manner...".


In April 1934, Ribbentrop was named Special Commissioner for Disarmament
Disarmament
Disarmament is the act of reducing, limiting, or abolishing weapons. Disarmament generally refers to a country's military or specific type of weaponry. Disarmament is often taken to mean total elimination of weapons of mass destruction, such as nuclear arms...

 by Hitler, which made him part of the same Auswärtiges Amt that was the center of his competition with Neurath. After Ribbentrop's appointment as Special Commissioner, Neurath informed Erich Kordt
Erich Kordt
Erich Kordt , was a German diplomat who was involved in the German Resistance to the regime of Adolf Hitler.-Career:...

, the diplomat assigned to Ribbentrop as his aide, not to correct any of Ribbentrop's spelling mistakes. Ribbentrop was given the office of Special Commissioner in large part because of doubts created in foreign capitals over just what precisely was his status as a diplomat. In his capacity as Special Commissioner, Ribbentrop frequently visited London, Paris and Rome. In his early years, Hitler's aim in foreign affairs was to persuade the world that he wished to reduce military spending by making idealistic but very vague offers of disarmament (in the 1930s, the term disarmament was used to describe arms-limitation agreements). At the same time, the Germans always resisted making concrete proposals for arms limitation, and they went ahead with increased military spending on the grounds that other powers would not take up German offers of arms limitation. Ribbentrop's task was to ensure that the world was convinced that Germany sincerely wanted an arms-limitation treaty while also ensuring that such a treaty never actually emerged. In the first part of his assignment, Ribbentrop was partly successful, but in the second part he more than fulfilled Hitler's expectations.

On 17 April 1934, French Foreign Minister Louis Barthou
Louis Barthou
Jean Louis Barthou was a French politician of the Third Republic.-Early years:He was born in Oloron-Sainte-Marie, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, and served as Deputy from that constituency. He was an authority on trade union history and law. Barthou was Prime Minister in 1913, and held ministerial office...

 issued the so-called "Barthou note" which led to concerns on the part of Hitler that the French would ask for sanctions against Germany for violating Part V of the Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of...

. Ribbentrop volunteered to stop the rumored sanctions, and visited London and Rome. During his visits, Ribbentrop met with Simon and Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was an Italian politician who led the National Fascist Party and is credited with being one of the key figures in the creation of Fascism....

, and asked them to postpone the next meeting of the Bureau of Disarmament, in exchange for which Ribbentrop offered nothing in return other than promises of better relations with Berlin. Despite Ribbentrop's efforts, the meeting went ahead as scheduled, but since no sanctions were sought against Germany, this led to Ribbentrop claiming success (in fact, Ribbentrop's efforts had nothing to do with the lack of sanctions). As Special Commissioner, Ribbentrop was allowed to see all diplomatic correspondence relating to the subject of disarmament, which Ribbentrop refused to share with Neurath or von Bülow. Due to Ribbentrop's perceived success in stopping sanctions being applied against Germany, Hitler ordered that Ribbentrop be allowed to see all diplomatic correspondence that was not marked "For the Foreign Minister" or "For the Secretary of State". Ribbentrop used this privilege to go through the incoming diplomatic messages, snatching certain messages, taking them to Hitler and having a reply written without Neurath or Bülow being informed first.

In August 1934, Ribbentrop founded an organisation linked to the Nazi Party called the Büro Ribbentrop (later renamed the Dienststelle Ribbentrop) that functioned as an alternative foreign ministry. The Dienststelle Ribbentrop, which had its offices located directly across from the Auswärtiges Amt building on the Wilhelmstrasse in Berlin, had in its membership a collection of Hitlerjugend
Hitler Youth
The Hitler Youth was a paramilitary organization of the Nazi Party. It existed from 1922 to 1945. The HJ was the second oldest paramilitary Nazi group, founded one year after its adult counterpart, the Sturmabteilung...

 alumni, dissatisfied businessmen, former reporters, and ambitious Nazi Party members, all of whom tried to conduct a foreign policy independent of and often contrary to the Auswärtiges Amt. Though the Dienststelle Ribbentrop concerned itself with German foreign relations with every part of the world, a special emphasis was put on Anglo-German relations
Anglo-German relations
Germany – United Kingdom relations also Anglo-German relations are the bilateral relations between Britain and Germany.Before the unification of Germany in 1871, Britain was often allied in wartime with Prussia. The Hanoverian kings of England were also the rulers of the German state of Hanover...

, as Ribbentrop knew an alliance with Britain was a project specially favoured by Hitler. In the 1920s, Hitler had written that the principal goal of a future National Socialist foreign policy would be "the destruction of Russia with the help of England". As such, Ribbentrop worked hard during his early diplomatic career to realize Hitler's dream of an anti-Soviet Anglo-German alliance. Ribbentrop made frequent trips to Britain, and upon his return he always reported to Hitler that the great mass of the British people longed for an alliance with Germany. In November 1934, Ribbentrop visited Britain where he met with George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw was an Irish playwright and a co-founder of the London School of Economics. Although his first profitable writing was music and literary criticism, in which capacity he wrote many highly articulate pieces of journalism, his main talent was for drama, and he wrote more than 60...

, Sir Austen Chamberlain
Austen Chamberlain
Sir Joseph Austen Chamberlain, KG was a British statesman, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize and half-brother of Neville Chamberlain.- Early life and career :...

, Lord Cecil
Robert Cecil, 1st Viscount Cecil of Chelwood
Edgar Algernon Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 1st Viscount Cecil of Chelwood CH, PC, QC , known as Lord Robert Cecil from 1868 to 1923, was a lawyer, politician and diplomat in the United Kingdom...

, and Lord Lothian
Philip Kerr, 11th Marquess of Lothian
Philip Henry Kerr, 11th Marquess of Lothian KT CH PC was a British politician and diplomat.Philip Kerr was the son of Lord Ralph Drury Kerr, the third son of John Kerr, 7th Marquess of Lothian...

. On the basis of remarks from Lord Lothian praising the natural friendship between Germany and Britain, Ribbentrop informed Hitler that all elements of British society wished for closer ties with Germany, a report which delighted Hitler, causing him to remark that Ribbentrop was the only person who told him "the truth about the world abroad". Since the diplomats of the Auswärtiges Amt were not so sunny in their appraisal of the prospects of an Anglo-German alliance, Ribbentrop's influence with Hitler increased. Hitler later stated: "In 1933–34 the reports of the Foreign Office [Auswärtiges Amt] were miserable. They always had the same quintessence: that we ought to do nothing". By contrast, Hitler found that the reports of the extremely aggressive and energetic Ribbentrop were more in tune with what Hitler wanted to hear, leading to the influence of the former being much increased at the expense of the Auswärtiges Amt. Moreover, since Hitler regarded the diplomats of the Auswärtiges Amt as a collection of stodgy reactionaries out of touch with the spirit of "New Germany", the personality of Ribbentrop, with his disregard for diplomatic niceties, was in line with what Hitler felt should be the relentless dynamism of a revolutionary regime.

Ribbentrop was rewarded by Hitler by being made Reich Minister Ambassador-Plenipotentiary at Large (1935–1936). Ribbentrop then made numerous trips all over Europe, where he constantly presented various German proposals meant to upset the international order such as his 1935 offer to Belgium that Germany would renounce its claim to the Eupen-Malmedy
Eupen-Malmedy
Eupen-Malmedy, or the East Cantons , is a group of cantons in Belgium, composed of the former Prussian districts of Malmedy and Eupen, together with the Neutral Moresnet...

 region in exchange for a Belgian renunciation of the 1920 alliance with France. In 1935, Ribbentrop was able to arrange for a series of much publicized visits of World War I veterans to Britain, France and Germany. Ribbentrop persuaded the British Legion (the leading veterans' group in Britain) and many of the French veterans' groups to send delegations to Germany to meet German veterans as the best way of promoting peace. At the same time, Ribbentrop arranged for members of the Frontkämpferbund
Stahlhelm, Bund der Frontsoldaten
The Stahlhelm, Bund der Frontsoldaten also known in short form as Der Stahlhelm was one of the many paramilitary organizations that arose after the defeat of World War I in the Weimar Republic...

, the official German World War I veterans' group, to make visits to Britain and France to meet veterans there. The visits of the veterans with the attendant promises of "never again" with regards to war did much to improve the image of the "New Germany" in Britain and France. In July 1935, the visit of the British Legion delegation to Germany was headed by Brigadier Sir Francis Featherstone-Godley. The Prince of Wales
Edward VIII of the United Kingdom
Edward VIII was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth, and Emperor of India, from 20 January to 11 December 1936.Before his accession to the throne, Edward was Prince of Wales and Duke of Cornwall and Rothesay...

, who was the patron of the Legion, made a much publicized speech at the Legion's annual conference in June 1935 stating he could think of no better group of men than those of the Legion to visit and carry the message of peace to Germany, and stated that he hoped that Britain and Germany would never fight again. As for the contradiction between German rearmament and his message of peace, Ribbentrop argued to whoever would listen that the German people had been “humiliated” by the Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of...

, that Germany wanted peace above all, and German violations of Versailles were part of an effort to restore the “self-respect’ of the German people that Ribbentrop claimed that Versailles had robbed them of. By the 1930s, much of British opinion had been convinced that the Treaty of Versailles was monstrously unfair and unjust to Germany, so as a result, many in Britain like Thomas Jones were very open to Ribbentrop’s message that if only Versailles could be done away with, then the peace of Europe would be secured. Very typical of the anti-Versailles mood in Britain was a very well-received speech given in December 1934 by the South African soldier and British Empire elder statesman Jan Smuts
Jan Smuts
Jan Christiaan Smuts, OM, CH, ED, KC, FRS, PC was a prominent South African and British Commonwealth statesman, military leader and philosopher. In addition to holding various cabinet posts, he served as Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa from 1919 until 1924 and from 1939 until 1948...

. Smuts told an audience at the Royal Institute of International Affairs
Chatham House
Chatham House, formally known as The Royal Institute of International Affairs, is a non-profit, non-governmental organization based in London whose mission is to analyse and promote the understanding of major international issues and current affairs. It is regarded as one of the world's leading...

 that:
"How can the inferiority complex which is obsessing and, I fear, poisoning the mind, and indeed the very soul of Germany, be removed? There is only one way and that is to recognize her complete equality of status with her fellows and to do so frankly, freely and unreservedly...While one understands and sympathizes with French fears, one cannot, but feel for Germany in the prison of inferiority in which she still remains sixteen years after the conclusion of the war. The continuance of the Versailles status is becoming an offence to the conscience of Europe and a danger to future peace...Fair play, sportsmanship-indeed every standard of private and public life-calls for frank revision of the situation. Indeed ordinary prudence makes it imperative. Let us break these bonds and set the complexed-obsessed soul free in a decent human way and Europe will reap a rich reward in tranquility, security and returning prosperity."
In such a climate of opinion that saw Germany as a wronged nation that needed and deserved gleichberechtigung (“equality of armaments”) was bound to very receptive towards Ribbentrop and his message that German rearmament was not a first step towards war, but was instead the best way of ensuring peace.

Throughout his time as Ambassador at Large
Ambassador-at-large
An ambassador-at-large is a Diplomat of the highest rank or a Minister who is accredited to represent his country internationally.Unlike an ambassador-in-residence who is usually limited to a country and/or embassy, the ambassador-at-large is entrusted to operate in several usually neighboring...

, Ribbentrop refused to share any information about his activities with the Auswärtiges Amt, who were very frustrated by Ribbentrop's non-cooperative attitude. In his capacity as Ambassador-Plenipotentiary at Large, he negotiated the Anglo-German Naval Agreement
Anglo-German Naval Agreement
The Anglo-German Naval Agreement of June 18, 1935 was a bilateral agreement between the United Kingdom and German Reich regulating the size of the Kriegsmarine in relation to the Royal Navy. The A.G.N.A fixed a ratio whereby the total tonnage of the Kriegsmarine was to be 35% of the total tonnage...

 (A.G.N.A.) in 1935 and the Anti-Comintern Pact
Anti-Comintern Pact
The Anti-Comintern Pact was an Anti-Communist pact concluded between Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan on November 25, 1936 and was directed against the Communist International ....

 in 1936. In regard to the former, Neurath did not think the A.G.N.A. was possible; to discredit his rival, he appointed Ribbentrop head of the delegation sent to London in June 1935 to negotiate it. Once the talks began, Ribbentrop, who possessed a certain elan and sense of audacity, issued Sir John Simon
John Simon, 1st Viscount Simon
John Allsebrook Simon, 1st Viscount Simon GCSI GCVO OBE PC was a British politician who held senior Cabinet posts from the beginning of the First World War to the end of the Second. He is one of only three people to have served as Home Secretary, Foreign Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer,...

 an ultimatum. He informed Simon that if Germany's terms were not accepted in their entirety, the German delegation would go home. Simon was angry with this demand and walked out of the talks under the grounds that "It is not usual to make such conditions at the beginning of negotiations". Much to everyone's surprise, the next day the British accepted Ribbentrop's demands and the A.G.N.A. was signed in London on 18 June 1935 by Ribbentrop and Sir Samuel Hoare, the new British Foreign Secretary. This diplomatic success did much to increase Ribbentrop's prestige with Hitler. Hitler called 18 June, the day the A.G.N.A. was signed, "the happiest day in my life" as he believed it marked the beginning of an Anglo-German alliance, and ordered celebrations throughout Germany to mark the event.

Immediately after the signing of the A.G.N.A., Ribbentrop followed up with the next step that was intended to create the Anglo-German alliance, namely the Gleichschaltung
Gleichschaltung
Gleichschaltung , meaning "coordination", "making the same", "bringing into line", is a Nazi term for the process by which the Nazi regime successively established a system of totalitarian control and tight coordination over all aspects of society. The historian Richard J...

 (co-ordination) of all societies demanding the restoration of the former German colonies in Africa into the Reichskolonialbund
Reichskolonialbund
The Reichskolonialbund was a collective body that absorbed all German colonial organizations during the time of the Third Reich...

 (Reich Colonial League) under General Franz Ritter von Epp. General von Epp in turn reported to Ribbentrop, who used the noisy agitation of the Reichskolonialbund to press for Germany's "inalienable" right to her former African colonies. On 3 July 1935 it was announced that Ribbentrop was now in charge of the efforts to recover Germany's former colonies in Africa. It was the joint idea of Hitler and Ribbentrop that demanding colonial restoration would pressure the British into making an alliance with the Reich on German terms. However, there was a certain difference of opinion between Ribbentrop and Hitler in that Ribbentrop sincerely wished to recover the former German African colonies, whereas for Hitler, colonial demands were just a negotiating tactic that would see Germany "renounce" her colonial claims in exchange for a British alliance.

In the fall of 1935, Ribbentrop founded two "friendship societies" in Berlin, namely the Deutsch-Englische Gesellschaft
Deutsch-Englische Gesellschaft
The Deutsch-Englische Gesellschaft was the German sister organization of the Anglo-German Fellowship. It was formed in Berlin, Germany, around 1935, under support of the Dienststelle Ribbentrop. The Dienststelle Ribbentrop was created by Ribbentrop in 1935, and was to function parallel to the...

 for relations with Britain and the Deutsch-Französische Gesellschaft for relations with France. Both of the societies were closely linked to two other societies Ribbentrop had helped to create, the Comité France-Allemagne headed by Fernand de Brinon
Fernand de Brinon
Fernand de Brinon, Marquis de Brinon was a French lawyer and journalist who was one of the architects of French collaboration with the Nazis during World War II...

 and the Anglo-German Fellowship
Anglo-German Fellowship
The Anglo-German Fellowship was a group which existed from 1935 to 1939 and aimed to build up friendship between the United Kingdom and Germany; it was widely perceived as being allied to Nazism...

 headed at first by Ernest Tennant. Through his work with these societies, Ribbentrop worked to trying to convert elites in France and Britain into following a pro-German line.

In February 1936, when Hitler asked Neurath and Ribbentrop for their advice about whether to remilitarize the Rhineland
Remilitarization of the Rhineland
The Remilitarization of the Rhineland by the German Army took place on 7 March 1936 when German military forces entered the Rhineland. This was significant because it violated the terms of the Locarno Treaties and was the first time since the end of World War I that German troops had been in this...

, Ribbentrop urged unilateral remilitarization at once. Ribbentrop went so far as to tell Hitler that if France attacked Germany because of the Rhineland, then Britain would come to Germany's aid and attack France. Much to Neurath's discomfort, Hitler found Ribbentrop's advice more appealing than his own. In March 1936, Ribbentrop appeared before a meeting held in London to discuss the crisis caused by the remilitariztion of the Rhineland, where he claimed that German move was justified by the ratification of the French National Assemby of the Franco-Soviet pact
Franco-Soviet Treaty of Mutual Assistance
The Franco–Soviet Treaty of Mutual Assistance was a bilateral pact between the two countries with the aim of containing Nazi Germany's aggression in 1935. It was pursued by Louis Barthou, who was the French Foreign Minister but he was assassinated before negotiations were finished...

 of 1935 and that France, the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia were all planning to attack Germany.

During a visit to London in April 1936, Ribbentrop met the Welsh political fixer and former civil servant Thomas Jones. As Sir Robert Vansittart
Robert Vansittart, 1st Baron Vansittart
Robert Gilbert Vansittart, 1st Baron Vansittart GCB, GCMG, PC, MVO was a senior British diplomat in the period before and during the Second World War...

, the Permanent Undersecretary at the British Foreign Office, showed little interest in Ribbentrop's proposals for an Anglo-German alliance, Ribbentrop switched his efforts to cultivating Jones. As Jones was now in retirement (through he retained some influence through his friendship with the Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin
Stanley Baldwin
Stanley Baldwin, 1st Earl Baldwin of Bewdley, KG, PC was a British Conservative politician, who dominated the government in his country between the two world wars...

), he was much impressed by Ribbentrop's efforts to cultivate him. Through Jones, Ribbentrop was able to meet Baldwin. Jones and Ribbentrop spent much of the spring and summer of 1936 attempting to set up a Hitler-Baldwin meeting only to be frustrated by Baldwin's dislike of travelling. At a meeting in May 1936, Jones told Baldwin that it was "a mistake to underestimate von Ribbentrop's influence and write him down as an ass because he does not adopt orthodox procedure. At the very least he is a reliable telephone from Hitler and the likelihood is that he is much more". Despite Jones's pleas, Baldwin was unmoved in refusing to make a trip to Germany.

The Anti-Comintern Pact
Anti-Comintern Pact
The Anti-Comintern Pact was an Anti-Communist pact concluded between Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan on November 25, 1936 and was directed against the Communist International ....

 of November 1936 marked an important change in German foreign policy. The Auswärtiges Amt had traditionally favoured a policy of friendship with China with an informal Sino-German alliance being created by the late 1920s. Neurath very much believed in maintaining Germany's good relations with China and distrusted Japan. Ribbentrop was opposed to the pro-China orientation of the Auswärtiges Amt and instead favoured an alliance with Japan. To this end, Ribbentrop often worked closely with General Hiroshi Ōshima
Hiroshi Ōshima
Baron was a general in the Imperial Japanese Army, Japanese ambassador to Nazi Germany before and during World War II — and unknowingly a major source of communications intelligence for the Allies. His role was perhaps best summed up by General George C...

, who served first as the Japanese military attaché, and then as Ambassador in Berlin in strengthening German-Japanese ties, in spite of furious opposition from the Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

 and the Auswärtiges Amt, who preferred closer Sino-German ties. The origins of the Anti-Comintern Pact went back to the summer and fall of 1935, when in an effort to square the circle between seeking a rapprochement with Japan and Germany's traditional alliance with China, Ribbentrop, together with General Ōshima, devised the idea of an anti-Communist alliance as a way of binding China, Japan and Germany together. However, when the Chinese made it clear that they had no interest in such an alliance (especially given that the Japanese regarded Chinese adhesion to the proposed pact as way of subordinating China to Japan), both Neurath and the War Minister Field Marshal
Field Marshal
Field Marshal is a military rank. Traditionally, it is the highest military rank in an army.-Etymology:The origin of the rank of field marshal dates to the early Middle Ages, originally meaning the keeper of the king's horses , from the time of the early Frankish kings.-Usage and hierarchical...

 Werner von Blomberg
Werner von Blomberg
Werner Eduard Fritz von Blomberg was a German Generalfeldmarschall, Minister of War and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces until January 1938.-Early life:...

 persuaded Hitler to shelve the proposed treaty in November 1935, lest it damage Germany's good relations with China. Ribbentrop for his part, who valued Japanese friendship far more than Chinese friendship, argued that Germany and Japan should sign the pact, even without Chinese participation. By November 1936, a revival of interest in a German-Japanese pact in both Tokyo and Berlin led to the signing of the Anti-Comintern Pact in Berlin. When the Pact was signed, invitations were sent out for Italy, China, Britain and Poland to adhere; of the invited powers, only the Italians were ultimately to sign the Anti-Comintern Pact. The Anti-Comintern Pact marked the beginning of the shift on Germany's part from China's ally to Japan's ally.

During the same period, Ribbentrop often visited France to try to influence, though not very successfully, French politicians into adopting a pro-German foreign policy. According to Ribbentrop’s French agent, Fernand de Brinon
Fernand de Brinon
Fernand de Brinon, Marquis de Brinon was a French lawyer and journalist who was one of the architects of French collaboration with the Nazis during World War II...

 Ribbentrop, who was markedly afraid of his wife, very much enjoyed his trips in Paris as it allowed him to engage in affairs without his wife being present. Ribbentrop enjoyed more apparent success with his policy of trying to win over elites in the United Kingdom, where he was able to persuade an impressive array of British high society to visit Hitler in Germany. That Ribbentrop possessed the power to set up meetings with Hitler and represented himself as Hitler's personal envoy made him for a time a much courted figure in Britain The most notable guest Ribbentrop brought to Hitler was the former Prime Minister David Lloyd George
David Lloyd George
David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor OM, PC was a British Liberal politician and statesman...

 in 1936. Hitler's British guests were a mélange of aristocratic Germanophiles such as Lord Londonderry, professional pacifists such as George Lansbury
George Lansbury
George Lansbury was a British politician, socialist, Christian pacifist and newspaper editor. He was a Member of Parliament from 1910 to 1912 and from 1922 to 1940, and leader of the Labour Party from 1932 to 1935....

 and Lord Allen
Clifford Allen, 1st Baron Allen of Hurtwood
Reginald Clifford Allen, 1st Baron Allen of Hurtwood , known as Clifford Allen, was a British politician and prominent pacifist.-Career:...

, retired politicians, ex-generals, fascists such as Admiral Barry Domvile
Barry Domvile
Admiral Sir Barry Edward Domvile KBE CB CMG was a distinguished Royal Navy officer who turned into a leading British Pro-German anti-Semite in the years before the Second World War....

 and Sir Oswald Mosley
Oswald Mosley
Sir Oswald Ernald Mosley, 6th Baronet, of Ancoats, was an English politician, known principally as the founder of the British Union of Fascists...

, journalists such as Lord Lothian
Philip Kerr, 11th Marquess of Lothian
Philip Henry Kerr, 11th Marquess of Lothian KT CH PC was a British politician and diplomat.Philip Kerr was the son of Lord Ralph Drury Kerr, the third son of John Kerr, 7th Marquess of Lothian...

 and G. Ward Price, academics such as the historian Philip Conwell-Evans, and various businessmen like the newspaper magnate Lord Rothermere and the merchant banker Lord Mount Temple. Very few of these people were actual decision-makers in the British government, such as Cabinet-level politicians or high-ranking bureaucrats. Neither Hitler nor Ribbentrop understood very well that when people like Lloyd George, Londonderry, Lansbury, Mount Temple, Allen, Lothian or Rothermere declared that they favoured closer Anglo-German ties, they were speaking as private citizens, not on behalf of Whitehall. As a German diplomat, Truetzschler von Falkenstein complained after the war that "Ribbentrop, having had contact with only a small group in England – representatives of the so-called two hundred families – did not know the great mass of the English people. The England with which he had hoped to collaborate was the England of this select group, since he believed that its members controlled Britain". Another German diplomat commented that Ribbentrop had the strange idea to "conduct international relations through aristocrats". Yet another German diplomat noted that, "He [Ribbentrop] did not have the capacity to form an overview; to see things in perspective. In England, for example, he relied upon people like Conwell-Evans who had no real influence". Earlier, speaking of Ribbentrop's activities and of the views of his British friends, Leopold von Hoesch
Leopold von Hoesch
Leopold von Hoesch was a career German diplomat. Hoesch began his political career in France as the chargé d'affaires in 1923. Following the recall of the German Ambassador in 1923 after the Ruhr crisis, Hoesch was appointed acting head of the German Embassy in Paris. While in Paris, Hoesch...

, the German Ambassador in London from 1932–36, warned that Berlin should "...not pay any attention to the Londonderrys and Lothians, who in no way represented any important section of British opinion".

Ambassador to Britain


In August 1936, the German government appointed Ribbentrop Ambassador to Britain with orders to negotiate the Anglo-German alliance that Hitler had predicted in Mein Kampf
Mein Kampf
Mein Kampf is a book written by Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. It combines elements of autobiography with an exposition of Hitler's political ideology. Volume 1 of Mein Kampf was published in 1925 and Volume 2 in 1926...

. Ribbentrop arrived to take up his position in October 1936. The two month delay between Ribbentrop's appointment and his arrival in London was due to the fracas caused by the death of the Auswärtiges Amts State Secretary Prince von Bülow in July 1936. Ribbentrop immediately suggested to Hitler that he succeed Bülow as State Secretary. Neurath informed Hitler that he would rather resign than have Ribbentrop as State Secretary and proceeded to appoint his son-in-law Hans Georg von Mackensen to that office. Hitler, for his part, had been highly impressed by Neurath's skilful efforts at defusing the crisis caused by remilitarization
Remilitarization of the Rhineland
The Remilitarization of the Rhineland by the German Army took place on 7 March 1936 when German military forces entered the Rhineland. This was significant because it violated the terms of the Locarno Treaties and was the first time since the end of World War I that German troops had been in this...

 of the Rhineland
Rhineland
Historically, the Rhinelands refers to a loosely-defined region embracing the land on either bank of the River Rhine in central Europe....

 in March 1936, and moreover felt that Ribbentrop's talents better suited him to serving as Ambassador than as State Secretary. Ribbentrop, who would have much preferred the reverse, spent the next two months attempting to persuade Hitler to agree before reluctantly leaving for Britain in October 1936.

Before leaving to take up his post in London, Ribbentrop was commissioned by Hitler:
"Ribbentrop...get Britain to join the Anti-Comintern Pact, that is what I want most of all. I have sent you as the best man I’ve got. Do what you can... But if in future all our efforts are still in vain, fair enough, then I’m ready for war as well. I would regret it very much, but if it has to be, there it is. But I think it would be a short war and the moment it is over, I will then be ready at any time to offer the British an honourable peace acceptable to both sides. However, I would then demand that Britain join the Anti-Comintern Pact or perhaps some other pact. But get on with it, Ribbentrop, you have the trumps in your hand, play them well. I'm ready at any time for an air pact as well. Do your best. I will follow your efforts with interest".
The vain, arrogant, and tactless Ribbentrop was not the man for such a mission, but it is doubtful that even a more skilled diplomat could have fulfilled Hitler's dream of a grand Anglo-German alliance His time in London was marked by an endless series of social gaffes and blunders that worsened his already poor relations with the British Foreign Office (Punch
Punch (magazine)
Punch, or the London Charivari was a British weekly magazine of humour and satire established in 1841 by Henry Mayhew and engraver Ebenezer Landells. Historically, it was most influential in the 1840s and 50s, when it helped to coin the term "cartoon" in its modern sense as a humorous illustration...

 referred to him as Von Brickendrop and the Wandering Aryan due to his frequent trips back to Germany.)

Upon arriving in Britain on 26 October 1936, Ribbentrop created a storm in the British press by reading the following statement:
"Germany wants to be friends with Great Britain and, I think, the British people also wish for German friendship. The Führer is convinced that there is only one real danger to Europe and to the British Empire as well, and that is the spreading further of communism, this most terrible of all diseases-terrible because people generally seem to realize its danger only when it is too late. A closer collaboration in this sense between our two countries is not only important but a vital necessity in the common struggle for the upholding of our civilization and our culture".
The Daily Telegraph newspaper commented that it was regrettable that the new German ambassador could offer no better basis for improved Anglo-German relations beyond a common hatred for a third country. To help with his move to London, and with the design of the new German Embassy Ribbentrop had built (the existing Embassy was deemed insufficiently grand for Ribbentrop), Ribbentrop hired a Berlin interior decorator named Martin Luther
Martin Luther (diplomat)
Martin Franz Julius Luther was an early member of the Nazi Party. He served as an advisor to Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, first in the Dienststelle Ribbentrop , and later in the Auswärtiges Amt as a diplomat when von Ribbentrop replaced Konstantin von Neurath...

. Upon the recommendation of his wife, Ribbentrop hired Luther to work for the Dienststelle Ribbentrop. Luther proved to be a master intriguer, and became Ribbentrop's favourite hatchet man.

Besides working to achieve Hitler's dream of an Anglo-German alliance against the Soviet Union, Ribbentrop served as the German delegate for the Non-Intervention Committee
Non-Intervention Committee
During the Spanish Civil War, several countries followed a principle of non-intervention, which would result in the signing of the Non-Intervention Agreement in August 1936 and the setting up of the Non-Intervention Committee, which first met in September...

 for the Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil WarAlso known as The Crusade among Nationalists, the Fourth Carlist War among Carlists, and The Rebellion or Uprising among Republicans. was a major conflict fought in Spain from 17 July 1936 to 1 April 1939...

 in London. Since Germany was in fact intervening in the civil war in Spain, Ribbentrop's purpose at the Non-Intervention Committee was to frustrate and sabotage the workings of the committee as much as possible.

Ribbentrop did not understand the King's limited role in government as he thought King Edward VIII
Edward VIII of the United Kingdom
Edward VIII was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth, and Emperor of India, from 20 January to 11 December 1936.Before his accession to the throne, Edward was Prince of Wales and Duke of Cornwall and Rothesay...

 could decide British foreign policy. He convinced Hitler that he had Edward's support; but this, like his belief that he had impressed British society, was a tragic delusion. Ribbentrop often woefully misunderstood both British politics and society. During the abdication crisis of December 1936, Ribbentrop reported to Berlin that the reason the crisis had occurred was an anti-German Jewish-Masonic-reactionary conspiracy to depose Edward (whom Ribbentrop represented as a staunch friend of Germany), and that civil war would soon break out in Britain between supporters of the King and supporters of the Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin
Stanley Baldwin
Stanley Baldwin, 1st Earl Baldwin of Bewdley, KG, PC was a British Conservative politician, who dominated the government in his country between the two world wars...

. Ribbentrop's statements about the abdication crisis causing a civil war were greeted with much incredulity by those British people who heard them. This led to a false sense of confidence about British intentions with which he unwittingly deceived his Führer.

Ribbentrop's time as Ambassador was notable as he threw the German Embassy
Embassy of Germany in London
The Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany to the Court of St. James's is Germany's diplomatic mission to the United Kingdom.The embassy is currently located at 23 Belgrave Square, London SW1X 8PZ, in Belgravia. It occupies three of the original terraced houses in Belgrave Square and a late...

 into a total state of chaos due to his erratic personality. Ribbentrop's aide, the SS man Reinhard Spitzy, described a typical day working for Ribbentrop as:
"He [Ribbentrop] rose, muttering bad-temperedly...Dressed in his pyjamas, he received the junior secretaries and press attachés in his bathroom...He scolded, threatened, gesticulated with his razor and shouted at his valet...As he took his bath, he ordered people to be summoned from Berlin, accepted and cancelled, appointed and dismissed, and dictated through the door to a nervous stenographer...He cursed people in their absence, calling them saboteurs and communists...It was my task to put his calls through; his valet stood within splashing distance holding a white telephone...Ribbentrop believed only ministers ranked above him: everyone else, including his ambassadorial colleagues, had to kept waiting on the line. Sometimes they did not share this view and rang off. The outburst of rage which ensued was directed against me..

'Mr. X', I would eventually say,'has been asked to call at ten o'clock and it is already nine-thirty. Shall I cancel or postpone the appointment?'.

'Better cancel or postpone. No, get him to wait until he's blue in the face, but you had better cancel all the other appointments. I must write to the Führer today!' (In fact, during the whole period I worked for him, Ribbentrop only managed to complete about five such letters. But how often he planned them! He prepared endless drafts which he spread out on the floor. In the evening they usually ended up in the fireplace)...I longed for the moment when it was the turn of the protocol officials to come in and I could make my escape...Then I had to deal with the brigade of tailors, bootmakers, shirtmakers and other craftsmen who had been summoned from the best London firms, and had to be consoled with appointments for the following day. They withdrew, to report at the houses of other clients on the ill manners of the ambassadorial couple....

At about eleven-thirty he would finally appear at his office. His waiting room would be crammed with impatient messengers, visitors, diplomats, officials... I had to console them with feeble excuses such as that His Excellency was not very well, or engaged in an urgent state call to Berlin...For the rest of the morning he listened to reports from members of the Embassy staff, unless I had to accompany him to the [British] Foreign Office...When Ribbentrop strutted through the [Foreign Office] corridors like a peacock, his head thrown back, it was a miracle that he did not fall over. His deportment aroused great mirth among the British officials, who often grinned at me with a pitying look...."
Ribbentrop's habit of summoning tailors from the best British firms, making them wait for hours and then sending them away without seeing him with instructions to return the next day, only to repeat the process, did immense damage to his reputation in British high society. As a result of Ribbentrop's abusive behavior towards the tailors of London, the tailors retaliated by telling all of their other well-off clients what an impossible man Ribbentrop was to deal with. In an interview, Spitzy stated "He [Ribbentrop] behaved very stupidly and very pompously and the British don't like pompous people". In the same interview, Spitzy called Ribbentrop "pompous, conceited and not too intelligent", and stated he was an utterly insufferable man to work for. In addition, the fact that Ribbentrop chose to spend as little time as possible in London in order to stay close to Hitler irritated the British Foreign Office immensely, as Ribbentrop's frequent absences prevented the handling of many routine diplomatic matters. As Ribbentrop progressively started alienating more and more people in Britain, Hermann Göring
Hermann Göring
Hermann Wilhelm Göring, was a German politician, military leader, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. He was a veteran of World War I as an ace fighter pilot, and a recipient of the coveted Pour le Mérite, also known as "The Blue Max"...

 warned Hitler that Ribbentrop was a "stupid ass". Hitler dismissed Göring's concerns by saying "But after all, he knows quite a lot of important people in England", leading Göring to reply "Mein Führer, that may be right, but the bad thing is, they know him".

In February 1937, Ribbentrop committed a notable social gaffe by unexpectably greeting King George VI
George VI of the United Kingdom
George VI was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth from 11 December 1936 until his death...

 with a "Heil Hitler!" Nazi salute which nearly knocked the King over as he walked forward to shake Ribbentrop's hand. Ribbentrop further compounded the damage to his image and caused a minor crisis in Anglo-German relations by insisting that henceforward all German diplomats were to greet heads of state with the "German greeting", who were in turn to return the fascist salute. The crisis was resolved when Neurath pointed out to Hitler that under Ribbentrop's rules, if the Soviet Ambassador were to give the Communist clenched fist salute, then Hitler would be obliged to return it. As a result of Neurath's advice, Hitler disavowed Ribbentrop over his demands that King George receive and give the "German greeting".

In his dealings with the British government, most of Ribbentrop's time was spent either demanding that Britain sign the Anti-Comintern Pact
Anti-Comintern Pact
The Anti-Comintern Pact was an Anti-Communist pact concluded between Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan on November 25, 1936 and was directed against the Communist International ....

 or that London return the former German colonies in Africa. Other than his fruitless meetings with the British Foreign Secretary Sir Anthony Eden
Anthony Eden
Robert Anthony Eden, 1st Earl of Avon, KG, MC, PC was a British Conservative politician, who was Prime Minister from 1955 to 1957...

, who always refused on behalf of his government Ribbentrop's demands about the former colonies or the Anti-Comintern Pact, Ribbentrop spent most of his time as Ambassador courting what Ribbentrop called the "men of influence" as the best way of bringing about an Anglo-German alliance. Ribbentrop had developed the notion that the British aristocracy comprised some sort of secret society that ruled from behind the scenes, and if he could befriend enough members of Britain's "secret government", then he could bring about an alliance with his country. Almost all of the initially favourable reports Ribbentrop provided to Berlin about the prospects of an Anglo-German alliance were based on friendly remarks about the "New Germany" from various British aristocrats like Lord Londonderry and Lord Lothian; the rather cool reception that Ribbentrop received from British Cabinet ministers and senior bureaucrats did not make much of an impression on him at first. In 1935, Sir Eric Phipps
Eric Phipps
Sir Eric Clare Edmund Phipps, GCB, GCMG, GCVO, PC was a British diplomat.-Family and early life:Phipps was the son of Sir Constantine Phipps, later British Ambassador to Belgium, and his wife Maria Jane...

, the British Ambassador to Germany, complained to London about Ribbentrop's British associates in the Anglo-German Fellowship
Anglo-German Fellowship
The Anglo-German Fellowship was a group which existed from 1935 to 1939 and aimed to build up friendship between the United Kingdom and Germany; it was widely perceived as being allied to Nazism...

, that they created "false German hopes as in regards to British friendship and caused a reaction against it in England, where public opinion is very naturally hostile to the Nazi regime and its methods". In September 1937, the British Consul in Munich
Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

, writing about the group Ribbentrop had brought to the Nuremberg Party Rally, reported that there were some "serious persons of standing among them" and that an equal number of Ribbentrop's British contingent were "eccentrics and few, if any, could be called representatives of serious English thought, either political or social, while they most certainly lacked any political or social influence in England". In June 1937, when Lord Mount Temple, the Chairman of the Anglo-German Fellowship, asked to see the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain
Neville Chamberlain
Arthur Neville Chamberlain FRS was a British Conservative politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from May 1937 to May 1940. Chamberlain is best known for his appeasement foreign policy, and in particular for his signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938, conceding the...

 after meeting Hitler in a visit arranged by Ribbentrop, Robert Vansittart
Robert Vansittart, 1st Baron Vansittart
Robert Gilbert Vansittart, 1st Baron Vansittart GCB, GCMG, PC, MVO was a senior British diplomat in the period before and during the Second World War...

, the British Foreign Office's Undersecretary wrote a memo stating that:
"The P.M. [Prime Minister] should certainly not see Lord Mount Temple – nor should the S[ecretary] of S[tate]. We really must put a stop to this eternal butting in of amateurs – and Lord Mount Temple is a particularly silly one. These activities – which are practically confined to Germany – render impossible the task of diplomacy. Lord Londonderry goes to Berlin; Lord Lothian goes to Berlin; Mr. Lansbury goes to Berlin; and now Lord Mount Temple goes. They all want interviews with the S of S, and two at least have had them. This flow is quite unfair to the service and Sir E. Phipps rightly complained of these ambulant amateurs. So did Sir N. Henderson in advance, and rightly, for Lord Lothian's last visit is being mischievously and unintelligently misused, particularly at the Imperial Conference. The proper course for any ambulant amateur is to be seen by someone less important than Ministers. If there is anything worthwhile in their remarks – there never is, for, of course, we have much better information than this naïf propaganda stuff – we can report it to the S of S. But a stage has now been reached where the service is entitled to at least this amount of protection. These superficial people are always gulled into the lines of least resistance – vide Lord Lothian – and we then have the ungrateful but necessary task of pointing out the snags and appearing obstructive. It is quite unfair and should cease".
After Vansittart's memo, members of the Anglo-German Fellowship ceased to see Cabinet ministers after going on Ribbentrop-arranged trips to Germany. One of the "men of influence" Ribbentrop attempted to win over was Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

, who during a 1937 meeting told him that though most people in Britain hated communism, neither the British government or British people wanted an anti-Soviet alliance with Germany nor would they accept a quid pro quo in which Britain would abandon Europe to Germany in exchange for German support for maintaining the British Empire. Ribbentrop then told Churchill if Britain would not ally herself with Germany, then the Germans would have no other choice, but to destroy the British Empire, leading Churchill to reply that the last time the Germans tried that, it was the German Empire that ended up being destroyed.

In February 1937, prior to a meeting with the Lord Privy Seal
Lord Privy Seal
The Lord Privy Seal is the fifth of the Great Officers of State in the United Kingdom, ranking beneath the Lord President of the Council and above the Lord Great Chamberlain. The office is one of the traditional sinecure offices of state...

, Lord Halifax
E. F. L. Wood, 1st Earl of Halifax
Edward Frederick Lindley Wood, 1st Earl of Halifax, , known as The Lord Irwin from 1925 until 1934 and as The Viscount Halifax from 1934 until 1944, was one of the most senior British Conservative politicians of the 1930s, during which he held several senior ministerial posts, most notably as...

, Ribbentrop suggested to Hitler that Germany together with Italy and Japan begin a worldwide propaganda campaign with the aim of forcing Britain to return the former German colonies in Africa. Hitler turned down this idea of Ribbentrop's, but nonetheless during his meeting with Lord Halifax, Ribbentrop spent much of the meeting demanding that Britain sign an alliance with Germany and return the former German colonies. The German historian Klaus Hildebrand
Klaus Hildebrand
Klaus Hildebrand is a German conservative historian whose area of expertise is 19th-20th century German political and military history.- Biography :...

 noted that as early as the Ribbentrop–Halifax meeting the differing foreign policy views of Hitler and Ribbentrop were starting to emerge with Ribbentrop more interested in restoring the pre-1914 German Imperium in Africa than conquest of Eastern Europe. Following the lead of Andreas Hillgruber
Andreas Hillgruber
Andreas Fritz Hillgruber was a conservative German historian. Hillgruber was influential as a military and diplomatic historian.At his death in 1989, the American historian Francis L...

, who argued that Hitler had a Stufenplan (stage by stage plan) for world conquest, Hildebrand argued that Ribbentrop may not have fully understood what Hitler's Stufenplan was, or alternatively in pressing so hard for colonial restoration was trying to score a personal success that might improve his standing with Hitler. In March 1937, Ribbentrop attracted much adverse comment in the British press when he gave a speech at the Leipzig Trade Fair
Leipzig Trade Fair
The Leipzig Trade Fair was a major fair for trade across Central Europe for nearly a millennium. After the Second World War, its location happened to lie within the borders of East Germany, whereupon it became one of the most important trade fairs of Comecon and was traditionally a meeting place...

 in Leipzig, where he declared that German economic prosperity would be satisfied either "through the restoration of the former German colonial possessions, or by means of the German people's own strength". The implied threat that if colonial restoration did not occur, then the Germans would take back by force their former colonies attracted a large deal of hostile commentary on the inappropriateness of an Ambassador threatening his host country in such a manner.

His aggressive and overbearing manner towards everyone except his wife and Hitler meant that to know him was to dislike him. His negotiating style, a strange mix of bullying bluster and icy coldness coupled with lengthy monologues praising Hitler, alienated many. The American historian Gordon A. Craig
Gordon A. Craig
Gordon Alexander Craig was a Scottish-American historian of German history and of diplomatic history.-Early life:...

 once observed that of all the voluminous memoir literature of the diplomatic scene of 1930s Europe, there are only two positive references to Ribbentrop. Of the two references, General Leo Geyr von Schweppenburg
Leo Geyr von Schweppenburg
Leo Dietrich Franz Freiherr Geyr von Schweppenburg was a German cavalry officer in World War I and a general during World War II. He was particularly noted for his expertise in armoured warfare and his command of Panzer Group West during the Invasion of Normandy.- Biography :Geyr was born in...

, the German military attaché in London, commented that Ribbentrop had been a brave soldier in World War I, while the wife of the Italian Ambassador to Germany, Elisabetta Cerruti, called Ribbentrop "one of the most diverting of the Nazis". In both cases the praise was limited, with Cerruti going on to write that only in the Third Reich was it possible for someone as superficial as Ribbentrop to rise to be a minister of foreign affairs, while Geyr von Schweppenburg called Ribbentrop an absolute disaster as Ambassador in London. The British historian/television producer Laurence Rees
Laurence Rees
Laurence Rees is a British historian. He is the former Creative Director of History Programs for the BBC, a documentary filmmaker, and the author of five books on war.-Biography:...

 noted for his 1997 series The Nazis: A Warning from History
The Nazis: A Warning from History
The Nazis: A Warning from History is a 1997 BBC documentary film series that examines Adolf Hitler and the Nazis' rise to power, their zenith, their decline and fall, and the consequences of their reign. It featured archive footage and interviews with eye witnesses and was shown in six...

 that every single person interviewed for the series who knew Ribbentrop expressed a passionate hatred for him. One German diplomat, Herbert Richter, called Ribbentrop "lazy and worthless" while another, Manfred von Schröder, was quoted as saying Ribbentrop was "vain and ambitious". Rees concluded that "No other Nazi was so hated by his colleagues".

In September 1937, a group of German military and diplomatic officials led by Dr. Kurt Jahnke
Kurt Jahnke
Kurt Albert Jahnke was a German-American intelligence agent and saboteur active both during World War I and World War II.Born in Gnesen, Jahnke immigrated to the United States in 1899, became a naturalized citizen, and served in the U.S. Marines in the Philippines...

 had worked out a plan for Anglo-German mediation of the Sino-Japanese war
Second Sino-Japanese War
The Second Sino-Japanese War was a military conflict fought primarily between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan. From 1937 to 1941, China fought Japan with some economic help from Germany , the Soviet Union and the United States...

, which was to be followed up by a “general settlement” of all outstanding European problems, which led to a British agent being secretly sent to Berlin. The strongly pro-Japanese Ribbentrop, supported by Himmler seeing the mediation proposal as pro-Chinese, did his best to have it scuttled. As Dr. Carl Marcus, one of German officials involved in the mediation plan later recalled in an interview with the Chinese historian Hsi-Huey Liang:
“We had our pens ready for Hitler to affix his signature when Ribbentrop managed to gain Hitler’s ear one more time. He somehow succeeded to change the Führer’s mind in the last minute. After that there was nothing more we could do. Reichenau was disgraced. He soon left Berlin for a new post in Munich. Jahnke and I took great care that the British agent made it safely back to England. But the good man was shaken and as he bade us farewell, he uttered the grim words “This means war!”.


In November 1937, Ribbentrop was placed in a highly embarrassing situation when his forceful advocacy of the return of the former German colonies led to the British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden
Anthony Eden
Robert Anthony Eden, 1st Earl of Avon, KG, MC, PC was a British Conservative politician, who was Prime Minister from 1955 to 1957...

 and the French Foreign Minister Yvon Delbos
Yvon Delbos
Yvon Delbos was a French Radical-Socialist Party politician and minister.Delbos was born in Thonac, Dordogne, Aquitaine, entered a career as a journalist, and became a member of the Radical-Socialist Party...

 offering to open talks on returning the former German colonies, in return for which the Germans would make binding commitments to respect their borders in Central and Eastern Europe. Since Hitler was not really interested in obtaining the former colonies, especially if the price was a brake on expansion into Eastern Europe, Ribbentrop was forced to turn down the Anglo-French offer that he had largely brought about. Immediately after turning down the Anglo-French offer on colonial restoration, Ribbentrop for reasons of pure malice ordered the Reichskolonialbund to increase the agitation for the former German colonies, a move which exasperated both the Foreign Office and Quai d'Orsay.

Ribbentrop's inability to achieve the alliance that he had been sent out for frustrated him, as he feared it could cost him Hitler's favour, and it made him a bitter Anglophobe
Anglophobia
Anglophobia means hatred or fear of England or the English people. The term is sometimes used more loosely for general Anti-British sentiment...

. As the Italian Foreign Minister, Count Galeazzo Ciano
Galeazzo Ciano
Gian Galeazzo Ciano, 2nd Count of Cortellazzo and Buccari was an Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Benito Mussolini's son-in-law. In early 1944 Count Ciano was shot by firing squad at the behest of his father-in-law, Mussolini under pressure from Nazi Germany.-Early life:Ciano was born in...

, noted in his diary in late 1937, Ribbentrop had come to hate Britain with all the "fury of a woman scorned". Ribbentrop, and Hitler for that matter, never understood that British foreign policy aimed at the appeasement
Appeasement
The term appeasement is commonly understood to refer to a diplomatic policy aimed at avoiding war by making concessions to another power. Historian Paul Kennedy defines it as "the policy of settling international quarrels by admitting and satisfying grievances through rational negotiation and...

 of Germany, not an alliance.

When Ribbentrop travelled to Rome in November 1937 to oversee Italy's adhesion to the Anti-Comintern Pact, he made clear to his hosts that the pact was really directed against Britain. As Count Ciano noted in his diary, the Anti-Comintern Pact was "anti-Communist in theory, but in fact unmistakably anti-British". Believing himself to be in a state of disgrace with Hitler over his failure to achieve the British alliance, Ribbentrop spent December 1937 in a state of depression, and together with his wife, wrote two lengthy documents for Hitler denouncing Britain. In the first of his two reports to Hitler, which was presented on 2 January 1938, Ribbentrop stated that "England is our most dangerous enemy". In the same report, Ribbentrop advised Hitler to abandon the idea of a British alliance, and instead embrace the idea of an alliance of Germany, Japan and Italy, who would destroy the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

. Ribbentrop wrote:
"I have worked for many years for friendship with England and nothing would make me happier than if it could be achieved. When I asked the Führer to send me to London, I was sceptical whether it would work. However, in view of Edward VIII, a final attempt seemed appropriate. Today I no longer believe in an understanding. England does not work a powerful Germany nearby which would pose a permanent threat to the islands".
Ribbentrop wrote in his "Memorandum for the Führer" that "a change in the status quo in the East to Germany's advantage can only be accomplished by force", and that the best way to achieve this change was to build a global anti-British alliance system. Besides converting the Anti-Comintern Pact into an anti-British military alliance, Ribbentrop argued that German foreign policy should work to "furthermore, winning over all states whose interests conform directly or indirectly to ours". By the last statement, Ribbentrop clearly implied that the Soviet Union should be included in the anti-British alliance system he had proposed. Ribbentrop ended his memo with the advice to Hitler that: "Henceforth-regardless of what tactical interludes of conciliation may be attempted with regard to us-every day that our political calculations are not actuated by the fundamental idea that England is our most dangerous enemy would be a gain to our enemies"

While the Ribbentrops were in Britain, his son, Rudolf von Ribbentrop
Rudolf von Ribbentrop
Rudolf von Ribbentrop is a former German Waffen-SS officer who served in World War II. He is the son of the German diplomat who later became Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop. Ribbentrop distinguished himself in the Continuation War.-Early life:Ribbentrop spent a year at Westminster School,...

, attended Westminster School
Westminster School
The Royal College of St. Peter in Westminster, almost always known as Westminster School, is one of Britain's leading independent schools, with the highest Oxford and Cambridge acceptance rate of any secondary school or college in Britain...

 in London.
Peter Ustinov
Peter Ustinov
Peter Alexander Ustinov CBE was an English actor, writer and dramatist. He was also renowned as a filmmaker, theatre and opera director, stage designer, author, screenwriter, comedian, humourist, newspaper and magazine columnist, radio broadcaster and television presenter...

 was Rudolf's schoolmate at this time, as related in his autobiography Dear Me (1971). Ustinov is also supposed to have clandestinely leaked Rudolf's presence at his school to The Times
The Times
The Times is a British daily national newspaper, first published in London in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register . The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times are published by Times Newspapers Limited, a subsidiary since 1981 of News International...

. The result of this was the prompt withdrawal of the younger Ribbentrop from the school as a precautionary measure for his safety, as well as for security of his father's mission in London.

Rumors of affair with Wallis Simpson


Ribbentrop's time in London was also marked by scandal. It was believed by many members of the British upper classes that he was having an affair with Wallis Simpson, the wife of British businessman Edward Simpson and the mistress of King Edward VIII
Edward VIII of the United Kingdom
Edward VIII was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth, and Emperor of India, from 20 January to 11 December 1936.Before his accession to the throne, Edward was Prince of Wales and Duke of Cornwall and Rothesay...

. According to files declassified by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation
Federal Bureau of Investigation
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is an agency of the United States Department of Justice that serves as both a federal criminal investigative body and an internal intelligence agency . The FBI has investigative jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crime...

, Mrs. Simpson was believed to be a regular guest at Ribbentrop's social gatherings at the German Embassy in London where it was thought the two struck up a romantic relationship. It was believed by the Americans at the time that Ribbentrop was said to have used Simpson's access to the King to funnel important information about the British to the German government. Supposedly, Simpson was paid by the Germans for this information and was happy to continue the relationship as long as she received payment. The FBI took the matter seriously enough to advise President Roosevelt of their findings; he once commented to a confidante that Simpson "played around...with the Ribbentrop set."

The truth of the matter is still very much in doubt. Simpson, who later married the former king – he had abdicated
Abdication
Abdication occurs when a monarch, such as a king or emperor, renounces his office.-Terminology:The word abdication comes derives from the Latin abdicatio. meaning to disown or renounce...

 to marry her – and was known in later life as the Duchess of Windsor, noted in her book The Heart Has Its Reasons that she met Ribbentrop on only two occasions and had no personal relationship with him.

Background


In early 1938 Hitler asserted his control of the military-foreign policy apparatus through the Blomberg-Fritsch Affair
Blomberg-Fritsch Affair
The Blomberg–Fritsch Affair were two related scandals in early 1938 that resulted in the subjugation of the German Armed Forces to dictator Adolf Hitler...

, the abolition of the War Ministry and its replacement by the OKW
Oberkommando der Wehrmacht
The Oberkommando der Wehrmacht was part of the command structure of the armed forces of Nazi Germany during World War II.- Genesis :...

, and finally by sacking Neurath as Foreign Minister on 4 February 1938. In the opinion of the official German history of World War II, from early 1938 Hitler was not carrying out a foreign policy that had carried a high risk of war, but was carrying out a foreign policy aiming at war. Ribbentrop was chosen as Neurath's successor as Hitler judged the former would be a more willing instrument to realize Hitler's foreign policy than the latter.

Appointment


On 4 February 1938, Ribbentrop succeeded Baron Konstantin von Neurath
Konstantin von Neurath
Konstantin Freiherr von Neurath was a German diplomat remembered mostly for having served as Foreign minister of Germany between 1932 and 1938...

 as Foreign Minister. Ribbentrop's appointment was generally taken at the time and since as indicating that German foreign policy was moving in a more radical direction. In contrast to Neurath's less bellicose and cautious nature, Ribbentrop unequivocally supported war in 1938–39. In May 1938 Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was an Italian politician who led the National Fascist Party and is credited with being one of the key figures in the creation of Fascism....

 commented after meeting Ribbentrop that:
"Ribbentrop belongs to the category of Germans who are a disaster for their country. He talks about making war right and left, without naming an enemy or defining an objective".
Under Ribbentrop's influence, Hitler grew increasingly anti-British, though he never fully embraced Ribbentrop's anti-British foreign policy programme, which as the German historian Andreas Hillgruber
Andreas Hillgruber
Andreas Fritz Hillgruber was a conservative German historian. Hillgruber was influential as a military and diplomatic historian.At his death in 1989, the American historian Francis L...

 noted was the "very opposite" of Hitler's foreign programme, which saw an anti-Soviet alliance with Britain as the best course.

Ribbentrop's time as Foreign Minister can be divided into three periods. In the first, from 1938–39, he tried to persuade other states to align themselves with Germany for the coming war. In the second, from 1939–43, Ribbentrop attempted to persuade other states to enter the war on Germany's side or at least maintain pro-German neutrality. In the final phase, from 1943–45, he had the task of trying to keep Germany's allies from leaving her side. During the course of all three periods, Ribbentrop met frequently with leaders and diplomats from Italy, Japan, Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

, Spain, Bulgaria
Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

, and Hungary. During all this time, Ribbentrop feuded with various other Nazi leaders; at one point in August 1939 an armed clash took place between supporters of Ribbentrop and those of Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels
Joseph Goebbels
Paul Joseph Goebbels was a German politician and Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945. As one of Adolf Hitler's closest associates and most devout followers, he was known for his zealous oratory and anti-Semitism...

 over the control of a radio station in Berlin that was meant to broadcast German propaganda abroad (Goebbels claimed exclusive control of all propaganda both at home and abroad whereas Ribbentrop asserted a claim to monopolize all German propaganda abroad). As Foreign Minister, Ribbentrop was highly concerned with counteracting the damage that he himself inflicted on the influence of the Auswärtiges Amt. Friedrich Gaus, the chief of the Legal Division of the Auswärtiges Amt, testified at the Nuremberg war crimes trials that:
"He [Ribbentrop] used to say that everything the Foreign Office lost in the way of terrain under Neurath he wanted to win back and, with all his passion, he fought for this aim in a manner which can only be understood by somebody who actually saw it".
Gaus went on to testify that "My main activity was 90 per cent concerned with competency conflicts". Moreover, as time went by, Ribbentrop started to oust the old diplomats from their senior positions in the Auswärtiges Amt and replaced them with men from the Dienststelle. As early as 1938, 32% of the offices in the Foreign Ministry were held by men who previously served in the Dienststelle. Ribbentrop was widely disliked by the old diplomats in Auswärtiges Amt. Herbert von Dirksen
Herbert von Dirksen
Herbert von Dirksen was a German diplomat who is best remembered as the last German Ambassador to Britain before World War II.- Biography :...

, who was German Ambassador in London from 1938–1939, described his predecessor, Ribbentrop, as "an unwholesome, half-comical figure". Dirksen was later to write that he at first hoped that now that Ribbentrop was Foreign Minister this would mean the end of the Dienststelle "for no man can intrigue against himself. That Ribbentrop was able to perform even this miracle only came home to me much later". Many of the people Ribbentrop appointed to head German embassies, especially the "amateur" diplomats from the Dienststelle, were grossly incompetent, thus limiting the effectiveness of the Auswärtiges Amt.

Changes


Ribbentrop's first move as Foreign Minister was to sack Mackensen (who as Neurath's son-in-law was totally unacceptable to him) as State Secretary and replace him with Baron Ernst von Weizsäcker
Ernst von Weizsäcker
Ernst Freiherr von Weizsäcker was a German diplomat and politician. He served as State Secretary at the Foreign Office from 1938 to 1943, and as German Ambassador to the Holy See from 1943 to 1945...

, a former naval officer turned career diplomat who joined the Auswärtiges Amt in 1920. Though Ribbentrop had competed with the Auswärtiges Amt in the past, his appointment as Foreign Minister was welcomed by the career diplomats who saw Ribbentrop as a Nazi champion who would improve the Auswärtiges Amts standing with Hitler. The appointment of Weizsäcker was taken as a sign that by the men of the Auswärtiges Amt that Ribbentrop was a man, who however personally disagreable and unpleasant was one they could work under, and that no radical changes were in the offing. Besides for appointing Weizsäcker State Secretary, Ribbentrop fired Ulrich von Hassell
Ulrich von Hassell
Ulrich von Hassell was a German diplomat during World War II. A member of the German Resistance against German dictator Adolf Hitler, Hassell was executed in the aftermath of the failed July 20 plot.- Family :...

 as Ambassador to Italy and replaced him with Mackensen, appointed Herbert von Dirksen
Herbert von Dirksen
Herbert von Dirksen was a German diplomat who is best remembered as the last German Ambassador to Britain before World War II.- Biography :...

 to London to serve as his successor as Ambassador to Britain and prompted the military attaché in Tokyo General Eugen Ott to Ambassador to replace Dirksen. The appointment of a general as Ambassador to Japan reflected Ribbentrop's belief that German–Japanese relations were in the future to be of a mainly military nature. As time went by, Ribbentrop took to restructuring the Auswärtiges Amt by creating new offices like the Agency for News Analysis which fought with the Propaganda Ministry for control of German propaganda abroad, and by creating an inner circle of loyalists, many of whom had come from the Dienststelle within the Auswärtiges Amt. It should be noted that despite Ribbentrop's preference for men from the Dienststelle that almost all of the career diplomats of the Auswärtiges Amt, most of whom had began their careers under the Second Reich or the Weimar Republic faithfully served the Nazi regime. A report written by historians and released by the German government in 2010 shows that wartime-era diplomats played an important role in carrying out the Holocaust, and disproved the claim often made after 1945 that German diplomats were "sand in the machine" who acted to moderate the actions of the Nazi regime.
One of Ribbentrop's first acts as Foreign Minister was to achieve a total volte-face
Volte-face
Volte-face is a total change of position, as in policy or opinion; an about-face.The expression comes through French, from Italian voltafaccia and Portuguese volte face, composed of volta and faccia ....

 in Germany's Far Eastern policies. Ribbentrop was instrumental in February 1938 in persuading Hitler to recognize the Japanese puppet state
Puppet state
A puppet state is a nominal sovereign of a state who is de facto controlled by a foreign power. The term refers to a government controlled by the government of another country like a puppeteer controls the strings of a marionette...

 of Manchukuo
Manchukuo
Manchukuo or Manshū-koku was a puppet state in Manchuria and eastern Inner Mongolia, governed under a form of constitutional monarchy. The region was the historical homeland of the Manchus, who founded the Qing Empire in China...

 and to renounce German claims upon her former colonies in the Pacific, which were now held by Japan. By April 1938, Ribbentrop had ended all German arms shipments to China and had all of the German Army
German Army
The German Army is the land component of the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Germany. Following the disbanding of the Wehrmacht after World War II, it was re-established in 1955 as the Bundesheer, part of the newly formed West German Bundeswehr along with the Navy and the Air Force...

 officers serving with the Kuomintang
Kuomintang
The Kuomintang of China , sometimes romanized as Guomindang via the Pinyin transcription system or GMD for short, and translated as the Chinese Nationalist Party is a founding and ruling political party of the Republic of China . Its guiding ideology is the Three Principles of the People, espoused...

 government of Chiang Kai-shek
Chiang Kai-shek
Chiang Kai-shek was a political and military leader of 20th century China. He is known as Jiǎng Jièshí or Jiǎng Zhōngzhèng in Mandarin....

 recalled (with the threat that the families of the officers in China would be sent to concentration camps if the officers did not return to Germany immediately). In return, the Germans received little thanks from the Japanese, who refused to allow any new German businesses to be set up in the part of China they had occupied, and continued with their policy of attempting to exclude all existing German (together with all other Western) businesses from Japanese-occupied China. At the same time, the ending of the informal Sino-German alliance led Chiang to terminate all of the concessions and contracts held by German companies in Kuomintang China.

Views


As Foreign Minister, Ribbentrop was noted for his virulent Anglophobia
Anglophobia
Anglophobia means hatred or fear of England or the English people. The term is sometimes used more loosely for general Anti-British sentiment...

 and anti-Semitism
Anti-Semitism
Antisemitism is suspicion of, hatred toward, or discrimination against Jews for reasons connected to their Jewish heritage. According to a 2005 U.S...

. Although he was almost lackey-like in Hitler's presence, he could be boorish when he was alone. At a meeting between Ribbentrop, Hitler and Henderson on 3 March 1938 during which Henderson offered on behalf of his government a proposal for an international consortium to rule much of Africa, in which Germany would play a leading role in exchange for which Germany would agree not to change its borders through violence, the British offer was flatly refused by Hitler, who had no real interest in colonies in Africa, and was more interested in the idea of Lebensraum
Lebensraum
was one of the major political ideas of Adolf Hitler, and an important component of Nazi ideology. It served as the motivation for the expansionist policies of Nazi Germany, aiming to provide extra space for the growth of the German population, for a Greater Germany...

 or expansionism
Expansionism
In general, expansionism consists of expansionist policies of governments and states. While some have linked the term to promoting economic growth , more commonly expansionism refers to the doctrine of a state expanding its territorial base usually, though not necessarily, by means of military...

, in Eastern Europe. At the same meeting, Ribbentrop stated that the British government secretly controlled the British press, hence could silence at any moment all press criticism of the Nazi regime; the fact that the British government had not done so was proof of British malevolence towards Germany. After the meeting, Henderson reported to the British Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax
E. F. L. Wood, 1st Earl of Halifax
Edward Frederick Lindley Wood, 1st Earl of Halifax, , known as The Lord Irwin from 1925 until 1934 and as The Viscount Halifax from 1934 until 1944, was one of the most senior British Conservative politicians of the 1930s, during which he held several senior ministerial posts, most notably as...

 about a private conversation he had with Ribbentrop: "He [Ribbentrop] talked so much... about what Great Britain should do that I warned at last that you [Lord Halifax] would be expecting rather to hear what Germany would be prepared to do. His reply was: "What can we do? We have nothing to give". Ribbentrop loathed Neville Chamberlain
Neville Chamberlain
Arthur Neville Chamberlain FRS was a British Conservative politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from May 1937 to May 1940. Chamberlain is best known for his appeasement foreign policy, and in particular for his signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938, conceding the...

, and viewed his appeasement policy as some sort of British scheme to block Germany from her rightful place in the world. Chamberlain for his part after meeting Ribbentrop in February 1938 wrote in a letter to his sister that : Ironically, Ribbentrop’s fierce Anglophobia, which he did nothing to disguise, had the effect in 1938 of encouraging, rather than discouraging appeasement. The British Ambassador Neville Henderson, in his reports back to London, argued that there were two factions in the German government warring for Hitler’s favour. Henderson called one the “moderates”, whose leader was Hermann Göring
Hermann Göring
Hermann Wilhelm Göring, was a German politician, military leader, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. He was a veteran of World War I as an ace fighter pilot, and a recipient of the coveted Pour le Mérite, also known as "The Blue Max"...

, and the other, the “extremists”, comprising Ribbentrop, Himmler and Goebbels. Henderson argued that if Britain could make enough concessions to Germany, then that might tip the scales in favour of the “moderates” by proving the international system was flexible enough to accommodate Germany's desires peacefully, and prevent World War II by discrediting the "extremists".

Munich Agreement and destruction of Czechoslovakia


In May 1938, there occurred a failed coup by the fascist Integralista
Brazilian Integralism
Brazilian Integralism was a fascist political movement in Brazil, created on October 1932. Founded and led by Plínio Salgado, a literary figure who was somewhat famous for his participation in the 1922 Modern Art Week, the movement had adopted some characteristics of European mass movements of...

 movement in Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

. After the failed coup, the Brazilian government claimed that the German Ambassador, the ardently Nazi Dr. Karl Ritter
Karl Ritter
Karl Ritter was a German diplomat, ambassador to Brazil, a member of the Nazi Party, Special Envoy to the Munich Agreement, a senior official in the Foreign Office during World War II, and convicted war criminal in the Ministries Trial.-Life:Karl Ritter was a graduate in law, and was appointed to...

, had been involved in the coup attempt and declared him persona non grata. The Brazilian allegation of German support for the Integralista coup had a galvanizing effect on the United States as it led to fears that German ambitions were not confined to Europe, but rather to the whole world. This in turn led the Roosevelt administration to change its previous view of the Nazi regime as an unpleasant regime that was however basically not an American problem. Through no one knew at the time, the road that was to see the United States and Germany at war three years later had begun in Rio.

During the May Crisis of 1938, Ribbentrop boastfully told the British Ambassador, Sir Nevile Henderson
Nevile Henderson
Sir Nevile Meyrick Henderson, KCMG , was the third child of Robert and Emma Henderson and was born at Sedgwick Park near Horsham, West Sussex. Ambassador of Great Britain to Germany from 1937 to 1939, he believed that Adolf Hitler could be controlled and pushed toward peace and cooperation with...

, that Germany was prepared to struggle to the death with Britain and France, and that in regard to Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia or Czecho-Slovakia was a sovereign state in Central Europe which existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until 1992...

 "...there would not be a living soul in that state". In response to objections from Baron Ernst von Weizsäcker
Ernst von Weizsäcker
Ernst Freiherr von Weizsäcker was a German diplomat and politician. He served as State Secretary at the Foreign Office from 1938 to 1943, and as German Ambassador to the Holy See from 1943 to 1945...

, (the Auswärtiges Amt State Secretary 1938–1943) in August 1938 that if Germany attacked Czechoslovakia, it would cause a world war that Germany could not win, Ribbentrop replied that:
"...the Führer had never yet been wrong...One must believe in his genius as he, Ribbentrop, did, from long years of experience. If I had not yet come to blind faith in this matter, he urged me to do so".
Weizsäcker was opposed to the general trend in German foreign policy towards attacking Czechoslovakia out of the fear that it might cause a general war that Germany would lose; Weizsäcker had no moral objections to the idea of destroying Czechoslovakia and was only opposed to the timing of the attack. On 19 August 1938, Weizsäcker wrote a memo to Ribbentrop stating:
"I again opposed the whole theory of (an attack on Czechoslovakia) and observed that we should have to wait political developments until the English lose interest in the Czech matter and would tolerate our action, before we could tackle the affair without risk".
Weizsäcker never sent his memo to Ribbentrop out of the fear that he might lose his job. Weizsäcker favored the idea of a "chemical" destruction of Czechoslovakia in which Germany together with Hungary and Poland would close their frontiers as a way of destabilizing Czechoslovakia economically, and strongly disliked Ribbentrop's idea of a "mechanical" destruction of Czechoslovakia via war, which he saw as too risky. However, despite all of their reservations and fears about Ribbentrop, whom they saw as recklessly seeking to plunge Germany into a general war before the Reich was ready for such a conflict, neither Weizsäcker nor any of the other professional diplomats was prepared to stand up to their chief.

Before the Anglo-German summit at Berchtesgaden on 15 September 1938, Henderson and Weizsäcker worked out a private arrangement that Hitler and Chamberlain were to meet with no advisers present as a way of excluding the ultra-hawkish Ribbentrop from attending the talks. Hitler's interpreter Paul Schmidt
Paul Schmidt (translator)
Paul Schmidt was an American translator, poet, playwright, and essayist.He graduated from Colgate University in 1955, and studied at Harvard University.He studied mime with Marcel Marceau and acting with Jacques Charon....

 later recalled that it was "felt that our Foreign Minister would prove a disturbing element" at the Berchtesgaden summit. In a moment of pique at his exclusion from the Chamberlain-Hitler meeting, Ribbentrop refused to hand over to Chamberlain Schmidt's notes of the summit, a move which caused much annoyance on the British side. Ribbentrop spent the last weeks of September 1938 looking forward very much to the German-Czechoslovak war he expected to break out on 1 October 1938. Ribbentrop regarded the Munich Agreement
Munich Agreement
The Munich Pact was an agreement permitting the Nazi German annexation of Czechoslovakia's Sudetenland. The Sudetenland were areas along Czech borders, mainly inhabited by ethnic Germans. The agreement was negotiated at a conference held in Munich, Germany, among the major powers of Europe without...

 as a diplomatic defeat for Germany, as it deprived Germany of the opportunity to wage the war to destroy Czechoslovakia that Ribbentrop wanted to see; the Sudetenland
Sudetenland
Sudetenland is the German name used in English in the first half of the 20th century for the northern, southwest and western regions of Czechoslovakia inhabited mostly by ethnic Germans, specifically the border areas of Bohemia, Moravia, and those parts of Silesia being within Czechoslovakia.The...

 issue, which was the ostensible subject of the German-Czechoslovak dispute, had been just a pretext for German aggression. During the Munich Conference, Ribbentrop spent much of his time brooding unhappily in the corners. Ribbentrop told the head of Hitler's Press Office, Fritz Hesse, that the Munich Agreement was "first-class stupidity...All it means is that we have to fight the English in a year, when they will be better armed...It would have been much better if war had come now". Like Hitler, Ribbentrop was determined that in the next crisis, Germany would not have its professed demands met in another Munich-type summit, and that the next crisis to be caused by Germany would result in the war that Chamberlain had "cheated" the Germans out of at Munich.

In the aftermath of Munich, Hitler was in a violently anti-British mood caused in part by his rage over being "cheated" out of the war to "annihilate" Czechoslovakia that he very much wanted to have in 1938, and in part by his realization that Britain would neither ally herself nor stand aside in regard to Germany's ambition to dominate Europe. As a consequence, after Munich, Britain was considered to be the main enemy of the Reich, and as a result, the influence of ardently Anglophobic Ribbentrop correspondingly rose with Hitler. Starting in the fall of 1938, Ribbentrop attempted to convert the Anti-Comintern Pact
Anti-Comintern Pact
The Anti-Comintern Pact was an Anti-Communist pact concluded between Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan on November 25, 1936 and was directed against the Communist International ....

 into an anti-British military alliance, without much success. Much to Ribbentrop's intense disappointment, the Japanese were more interested in 1938–39 in fighting the Soviets and the Chinese rather than fighting the British. The Japanese were willing to see the Anti-Comintern Pact converted into a military alliance, but only against the Soviet Union. Unknown to Ribbentrop, the differences in opinion during the winter of 1938–39 between Japan and Germany about whether to convert the Anti-Comintern Pact into an anti-British or an anti-Soviet military alliance were known to the Kremlin thanks to the fact that the Soviets had broken the Japanese diplomatic codes and through the spy ring in Tokyo headed by Richard Sorge
Richard Sorge
Richard Sorge was a German communist and spy who worked for the Soviet Union. He has gained great fame among espionage enthusiasts for his intelligence gathering during World War II. He worked as a journalist in both Germany and Japan, where he was imprisoned for spying and eventually hanged....

.

As part of the anti-British course, it was deemed necessary in Germany to have Poland as either a satellite state
Satellite state
A satellite state is a political term that refers to a country that is formally independent, but under heavy political and economic influence or control by another country...

 or otherwise neutralized. The Germans believed this necessary on both strategic grounds as a way of securing the Reichs eastern flank and on economic grounds as a way of evading the effects of a British blockade. Starting in October 1938, Ribbentrop during several meetings with the Polish Ambassador to Germany Józef Lipski
Józef Lipski
Józef Lipski . Polish diplomat and Ambassador to Nazi Germany, 1934 to 1939. Lipski played a key role in foreign policy of Second Polish Republic.-Life:Lipski trained as a lawyer, and joined the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1925....

 and the Polish Foreign Minister Colonel Józef Beck
Józef Beck
' was a Polish statesman, diplomat, military officer, and close associate of Józef Piłsudski...

 expressed his wishes that Poland agree to the return of the Free City of Danzig
Free City of Danzig
The Free City of Danzig was a semi-autonomous city-state that existed between 1920 and 1939, consisting of the Baltic Sea port of Danzig and surrounding areas....

 (modern Gdańsk
Gdansk
Gdańsk is a Polish city on the Baltic coast, at the centre of the country's fourth-largest metropolitan area.The city lies on the southern edge of Gdańsk Bay , in a conurbation with the city of Gdynia, spa town of Sopot, and suburban communities, which together form a metropolitan area called the...

, Poland) to the Reich, allow for "extra-territorial" highways across the Polish Corridor
Polish Corridor
The Polish Corridor , also known as Danzig Corridor, Corridor to the Sea or Gdańsk Corridor, was a territory located in the region of Pomerelia , which provided the Second Republic of Poland with access to the Baltic Sea, thus dividing the bulk of Germany from the province of East...

 to East Prussia
East Prussia
East Prussia is the main part of the region of Prussia along the southeastern Baltic Coast from the 13th century to the end of World War II in May 1945. From 1772–1829 and 1878–1945, the Province of East Prussia was part of the German state of Prussia. The capital city was Königsberg.East Prussia...

, and most importantly, sign the Anti-Comintern Pact (the last gesture was generally understood as placing Poland within the German sphere of influence). At a meeting with Lipski in October 1938, Ribbentrop stated that he wanted eine Gesamtlösung (a total settlement) between Germany and Poland with Poland being reduced to a subordinate state to the Reich within the Anti-Comintern Pact.

In October–November 1938, Ribbentrop together with the Italian Foreign Minister Count Galeazzo Ciano, delegations led by the Czecho-Slovak foreign minister František Chvalkovský
Frantisek Chvalkovsky
František Chvalkovský was a Czech diplomat and the fourth foreign minister of Czechoslovakia.-Activities during the First Republic:...

, and the Hungarian foreign minister Count Kálmán Kánya
Kálmán Kánya
Kálmán de Kánya , Foreign Minister of Hungary during the Horthy era. He started his diplomatic career in Constantinople. In 1913 he appointed as Austro-Hungarian ambassador to Mexico later to Berlin. From 1933 he served as Minister of Foreign Affairs...

 conducted negotiations in Vienna that resulted in the First Vienna Award
First Vienna Award
The First Vienna Award was the result of the First Vienna Arbitration, which took place at Vienna's Belvedere Palace on November 2, 1938. The Arbitration and Award were direct consequences of the Munich Agreement...

 over the fate of the eastern part of Czecho-Slovakia (as Czechoslovakia had been renamed in October 1938). During the talks, a clash of interests arose between the Italians, who favoured seeing Hungary restored to pre-Trianon
Treaty of Trianon
The Treaty of Trianon was the peace agreement signed in 1920, at the end of World War I, between the Allies of World War I and Hungary . The treaty greatly redefined and reduced Hungary's borders. From its borders before World War I, it lost 72% of its territory, which was reduced from to...

 borders and the Germans, who were disappointed over Hungary's lukewarm attitude towards attacking Czechoslovakia in September 1938, tended to favour Czecho-Slovakia. At the same time, Ribbentrop, who was trying to enlist Italy in his anti-British alliance, was not inclined towards pushing the Italians too hard, and the resulting Vienna Award was a compromise between the rival German and Italian claims to influence in Eastern Europe.

In the aftermath of the Kristallnacht
Kristallnacht
Kristallnacht, also referred to as the Night of Broken Glass, and also Reichskristallnacht, Pogromnacht, and Novemberpogrome, was a pogrom or series of attacks against Jews throughout Nazi Germany and parts of Austria on 9–10 November 1938.Jewish homes were ransacked, as were shops, towns and...

 pogrom in November 1938, the U.S. government formally protested and withdrew Hugh Wilson, the American Ambassador in Berlin in protest. In retaliation, Ribbentrop withdrew the German Ambassador in Washington, Hans-Heinrich Dieckhoff
Hans-Heinrich Dieckhoff
Hans-Heinrich Dieckhoff was a German diplomat best known for his service to the Nazi regime.Dieckhoff was born in Strasbourg, Alsace-Lorraine. From 1937 to November 1938 he served as German ambassador to the United States, until recalled in response to the American recall of its ambassador in...

, and delivered a counter-protest note accusing the U.S. government of being secretly controlled by Jewish plutocrats. Right up until 1941, German-American relations were conducted by chargés d'affaires as neither government ever sent back its ambassador.

In regard to the anti-Semitic policies, Ribbentrop emerged as one of the leading hardliners, and refused to even consider the idea (which some of the other Nazi leaders were open to, though only on pragmatic grounds as a way of encouraging Jewish emigration) that German Jews be allowed to take their personal possessions with them when they left Germany. At a meeting in Paris with the French Foreign Minister, Georges Bonnet
Georges Bonnet
Not to be confused with the French Socialist Georges MonnetGeorges-Étienne Bonnet was a French politician and leading figure in the Radical-Socialist Party.- Early career :...

, in December 1938, when asked if it were possible for immigrating German Jews to bring their personal belongings with them, Bonnet reported Ribbentrop as replying:
"The Jews in Germany were without exception pickpockets, murderers and thieves. The property they possessed had been acquired illegally. The German government had therefore decided to assimilate them with the criminal elements of the population. The property which they had acquired illegally would be taken from them. They would be forced to live in districts frequented by the criminal classes. They would be under police observation like other criminals. They would be forced to report to the police as other criminals were obligated to do. The German government could not help it if some of these criminals escaped to other countries which seemed so anxious to have them. It was not, however, willing for them to take the property, which had resulted from their illegal operations with them".


On 6 December 1938, Ribbentrop visited Paris, where he and the French foreign minister Georges Bonnet
Georges Bonnet
Not to be confused with the French Socialist Georges MonnetGeorges-Étienne Bonnet was a French politician and leading figure in the Radical-Socialist Party.- Early career :...

 signed a grand-sounding but largely meaningless Declaration of Franco-German Friendship. Ribbentrop was later to claim that Bonnet told him that France recognized Eastern Europe as being within Germany's exclusive sphere of influence. Later in December 1938, Ribbentrop, during a meeting with the Polish Foreign Minister Colonel Beck at Berchtesgaden, attempted to win his acceptance of the German proposals by promising him German support for Polish annexation of the Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

, only to be told that Poland had no interest in seeing either Danzig return to the Reich, or in annexing the Ukraine. On 6 February 1939, in response to a speech given by Bonnet before the Chamber of Deputies, underlining French commitments in Eastern Europe, Ribbentrop offered a formal protest to Robert Coulondre, the French Ambassador in Berlin, arguing that because of Bonnet's alleged statement of 6 December 1938, that "France's commitments in Eastern Europe" were now "off limits".

Partly for economic reasons, and partly out of fury over being "cheated" out of war in 1938, in early 1939, Hitler decided to commence the destruction of the rump state of Czecho-Slovakia (as Czechoslovakia had been renamed in October 1938). Ribbentrop played an important role in setting in motion the crisis that was to result in the end of Czecho-Slovakia by ordering German diplomats in Bratislava
Bratislava
Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia and, with a population of about 431,000, also the country's largest city. Bratislava is in southwestern Slovakia on both banks of the Danube River. Bordering Austria and Hungary, it is the only national capital that borders two independent countries.Bratislava...

 to contact Father Jozef Tiso
Jozef Tiso
Jozef Tiso was a Slovak Roman Catholic priest, politician of the Slovak People's Party, and Nazi collaborator. Between 1939 and 1945, Tiso was the head of the Slovak State, a satellite state of Nazi Germany...

, the Premier of the Slovak regional government, and pressuring him to declare independence from Prague
Prague
Prague is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. Situated in the north-west of the country on the Vltava river, the city is home to about 1.3 million people, while its metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of over 2.3 million...

. When Tiso proved reluctant to do so on the grounds that the autonomy that had existed since October 1938 was sufficient for him, and to completely sever links with the Czechs would leave Slovakia open to being annexed by Hungary, Ribbentrop had the German Embassy in Budapest
Budapest
Budapest is the capital of Hungary. As the largest city of Hungary, it is the country's principal political, cultural, commercial, industrial, and transportation centre. In 2011, Budapest had 1,733,685 inhabitants, down from its 1989 peak of 2,113,645 due to suburbanization. The Budapest Commuter...

 contact the Regent, Admiral Miklós Horthy
Miklós Horthy
Miklós Horthy de Nagybánya was the Regent of the Kingdom of Hungary during the interwar years and throughout most of World War II, serving from 1 March 1920 to 15 October 1944. Horthy was styled "His Serene Highness the Regent of the Kingdom of Hungary" .Admiral Horthy was an officer of the...

. Admiral Horthy was advised that the Germans might be open to having more of Hungary restored to former borders, and that the Hungarians should best start concentrating troops on their northern border at once if they were serious about changing the frontiers. Upon hearing of the Hungarian mobilization, Tiso was presented with the choice of either declaring independence with the understanding that the new state would be in the German sphere of influence, or seeing all of Slovakia absorbed into Hungary. When as a result, Tiso had the Slovak regional government issue a declaration of independence on 14 March 1939, the ensuing crisis in Czech-Slovak relations was used as a pretext to summon the Czecho-Slovak President Emil Hácha
Emil Hácha
Emil Hácha was a Czech lawyer, the third President of Czecho-Slovakia from 1938 to 1939. From March 1939, he presided under the German Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.-Judicial career:...

 to Berlin over his "failure" to keep order in his country. On the night of 14–15 March 1939, Ribbentrop played a key role in the German annexation of the Czech part of Czecho-Slovakia by bullying the Czechoslovak
Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia or Czecho-Slovakia was a sovereign state in Central Europe which existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until 1992...

 President Hácha into transforming his country into a German protectorate
Protectorate
In history, the term protectorate has two different meanings. In its earliest inception, which has been adopted by modern international law, it is an autonomous territory that is protected diplomatically or militarily against third parties by a stronger state or entity...

 at a meeting in the Reich Chancellery
Reich Chancellery
The Reich Chancellery was the traditional name of the office of the Chancellor of Germany in the period of the German Reich from 1871 to 1945...

 in Berlin. On 15 March 1939, German troops occupied the Czech area of Czecho-Slovakia, which then became the Reich Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia
Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia
The Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia was the majority ethnic-Czech protectorate which Nazi Germany established in the central parts of Bohemia, Moravia and Czech Silesia in what is today the Czech Republic...

. On 20 March 1939, Ribbentrop summoned the Lithuanian Foreign Minister Juozas Urbšys
Juozas Urbšys
Juozas Urbšys was a prominent interwar Lithuanian diplomat, the last head of foreign affairs in independent interwar Lithuania, and a translator. He served in the military between 1916 and 1922, afterwards joining the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs...

 to Berlin and informed him that if a Lithuanian plenipotentiary did not arrive at once to negotiate turning over the Memelland
Klaipėda Region
The Klaipėda Region or Memel Territory was defined by the Treaty of Versailles in 1920 when it was put under the administration of the Council of Ambassadors...

 to Germany the Luftwaffe would raze Kaunas
Kaunas
Kaunas is the second-largest city in Lithuania and has historically been a leading centre of Lithuanian economic, academic, and cultural life. Kaunas was the biggest city and the center of a powiat in Trakai Voivodeship of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania since 1413. During Russian Empire occupation...

 to the ground. As a result of Ribbentrop's ultimatum
1939 German ultimatum to Lithuania
1939 German ultimatum to Lithuania was an oral ultimatum presented to Juozas Urbšys, Foreign Minister of Lithuania, by Joachim von Ribbentrop, Foreign Minister of Nazi Germany, on March 20, 1939...

 on 23 March, the Lithuanians agreed to return Memel (modern Klaipėda, Lithuania) to Germany.

In March 1939, Ribbentrop assigned the largely ethnic Ukrainian Sub-Carpathian Ruthenia
Carpathian Ruthenia
Carpathian Ruthenia is a region in Eastern Europe, mostly located in western Ukraine's Zakarpattia Oblast , with smaller parts in easternmost Slovakia , Poland's Lemkovyna and Romanian Maramureş.It is...

 region of Czecho-Slovakia, which had just proclaimed its independence as the Republic of Carpatho-Ukraine
Carpatho-Ukraine
Carpatho-Ukraine was an autonomous region within Czechoslovakia from late 1938 to March 15, 1939. It declared itself an independent republic on March 15, 1939, but was occupied by Hungary between March 15 and March 18, 1939, remaining under Hungarian control until the Nazi occupation of Hungary in...

, to Hungary, which then proceeded to annex it after a short war. The significance of this lies in that there had been many fears in the Soviet Union in the 1930s that the Germans would use Ukrainian nationalism
Ukrainian nationalism
Ukrainian nationalism refers to the Ukrainian version of nationalism.Although the current Ukrainian state emerged fairly recently, some historians, such as Mykhailo Hrushevskyi, Orest Subtelny and Paul Magosci have cited the medieval state of Kievan Rus' as an early precedents of specifically...

 as a tool for breaking up the Soviet Union. The establishment of an autonomous Ukrainian region in Czecho-Slovakia in October 1938 had promoted a major Soviet media campaign against its existence on the grounds that this was part of a Western plot to support separatism in the Soviet Ukraine. By allowing the Hungarians to destroy Europe's only Ukrainian state, Ribbentrop had signified that Germany was not interested (at least for the moment) in sponsoring Ukrainian nationalism. This in turn helped to improve German-Soviet relations by demonstrating that German foreign policy was now primarily anti-Western rather than anti-Soviet.

Initially, Germany hoped to transform Poland into a satellite state, but by March 1939 German demands had been rejected by the Poles three times, which led Hitler to decide, with enthusiastic support from Ribbentrop, upon the destruction of Poland as the main German foreign policy goal of 1939. On 21 March 1939, Hitler went public for the first time with his demand for Danzig to rejoin the Reich and for "extra-territorial" roads across the Polish Corridor
Polish Corridor
The Polish Corridor , also known as Danzig Corridor, Corridor to the Sea or Gdańsk Corridor, was a territory located in the region of Pomerelia , which provided the Second Republic of Poland with access to the Baltic Sea, thus dividing the bulk of Germany from the province of East...

. This marked a significant escalation of the German pressure on Poland, which until then had been confided only to private meetings between German and Polish diplomats. That same day, on 21 March 1939, Ribbentrop presented a set of demands to the Polish Ambassador Józef Lipski about Poland allowing the Free City of Danzig to return to Germany in such violent and extreme language that it led to the Poles to fear their country was on the verge of an immediate German attack. Ribbentrop had used such extreme language, in particular his remark that if Germany had a different policy towards the Soviet Union then Poland would cease to exist, that it led to the Poles ordering partial mobilization
Mobilization
Mobilization is the act of assembling and making both troops and supplies ready for war. The word mobilization was first used, in a military context, in order to describe the preparation of the Prussian army during the 1850s and 1860s. Mobilization theories and techniques have continuously changed...

 and placing their armed forces on the highest state of alert on 23 March 1939. In a protest note at Ribbentrop's behaviour, Colonel Beck reminded the German Foreign Minister that Poland was an independent country and was not some sort of German protectorate which Ribbentrop could bully at will. Ribbentrop in turn sent out instructions to the German Ambassador in Warsaw, Count Hans-Adolf von Moltke, that if Poland agreed to the German demands, then Germany would ensure that Poland could partition Slovakia with Hungary and be ensured of German support for annexing the Ukraine. If the Poles rejected his offer, then Poland would be considered an enemy of the Reich. On March 26, in an extremely stormy meeting with the Polish Ambassador Józef Lipski, Ribbentrop accused the Poles of attempting to bully Germany by their partial mobilization and violently attacked them for only offering consideration of the German demand about the "extra-territorial" roads. The meeting ended with Ribbentrop screaming that if Poland were to invade the Free City, then Germany would go to war to destroy Poland. When the news of Ribbentrop's remarks was leaked to the Polish press despite Colonel Beck's order to the censors on March 27, it caused anti-German riots in Poland with the local N.S.D.A.P headquarters in the ethnically mixed town of Lininco destroyed by a mob. On March 28, Colonel Beck told Moltke that if any attempt to change the status of Danzig unilaterally would be regarded by Poland as a casus belli. Though the Germans were not planning an attack on Poland in March 1939, Ribbentrop's bullying behavior towards the Poles destroyed whatever faint chance there was of Poland allowing Danzig to return to Germany.

The German occupation of the Czech area of Czecho-Slovakia on the Ides of March, in total contravention of the Munich Agreement that had been signed less than six months before, infuriated British and French public opinion and lost Germany all sympathy. Such was the state of public fury that it appeared possible for several days afterwards that the Chamberlain government might fall due to a backbencher rebellion. Even Ribbentrop’s standard line that Germany was only reacting to an unjust Treaty of Versailles, and really only wanted peace with everyone, which had worked so well in the past, failed to carry weight. Reflecting the changed mood, the Conservative M.P Alfred Duff Cooper wrote in a letter to The Times:
“Some of us are getting rather tired of the sanctimonious attitude which seeks to take upon our shoulders the blame for every crime committed in Europe. If Germany had been left stronger in 1919 she would sooner have been in a position to do what she is doing today”.
Moreover, the British government had genuinely believed in the German claim that it was only the Sudetenland that concerned them, and that Germany was not seeking to dominate Europe. By occupying the Czech part of Czecho-Slovakia, Germany lost all credibility with its claim to be only righting the alleged wrongs of Versailles. As the British Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax
E. F. L. Wood, 1st Earl of Halifax
Edward Frederick Lindley Wood, 1st Earl of Halifax, , known as The Lord Irwin from 1925 until 1934 and as The Viscount Halifax from 1934 until 1944, was one of the most senior British Conservative politicians of the 1930s, during which he held several senior ministerial posts, most notably as...

 put it later in August 1939:
“Last year the German government put forward the demand for the Sudetenland on purely racial grounds; but subsequent events proved that this demand was only put forward as a cover for the annihilation of Czechoslovakia. In view of this experience… it is not surprising that the Poles and we ourselves are afraid that the demand for Danzig is only a first move towards the destruction of Poland’s independence”.
Shortly afterwards, false reports spread in mid-March 1939 by the Romanian minister in London, Virgil Tilea, that his country was on the verge of an immediate German attack, led to a dramatic U-turn in British policy of resisting commitments in Eastern Europe. Ribbentrop denied correctly that Germany was going to invade Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

, but since his denials were issued in almost identical language to the denials that he had issued in early March, when he denied that anything was being planned against the Czechs, this increased rather than diminished the “Romanian war scare” of March 1939. From the British point of view, it was regarded as highly desirable to keep Romania and its oil out of German hands; since Germany had hardly any natural supplies of oil, the ability of the Royal Navy to successfully impose a blockade represented a British trump card both to deter war, and if necessary, win a war. If Germany were to occupy oil-rich Romania, this would undercut all of the British strategic assumptions based on Germany's need to import oil from the Americas. Since Poland was regarded as the East European state with the most powerful army, it became imperative to tie Poland to Britain as the best way of ensuring Polish support for Romania, since it was the obvious quid pro quo that Britain would have to do something for Polish security if the Poles were to be induced to do something for Romanian security. On 31 March 1939, the British Prime Minister Chamberlain announced before the House of Commons the British “guarantee” of Poland, which committed Britain to go to war to defend Polish independence, though pointedly the “guarantee” excluded Polish frontiers. As a result of the "guarantee" of Poland, Hitler began to speak with increasing frequency of a British "encirclement" policy, and used the “encirclement” policy as the excuse for denouncing in a speech before the Reichstag on 28 April 1939 the A.G.N.A and the Non-Aggression Pact with Poland.

In late March, Ribbentrop had the German chargé d'affaires in Turkey, Hans Kroll
Hans Kroll
Hans Kroll was a German career diplomat and after World War II ambassador in Belgrade, Tokyo and Moscow where he played a prominent role between 1958 to 1962.Kroll entered Weimar German diplomatic services...

, start pressuring Turkey into an alliance with Germany. The Turks assured Kroll that they had no objection to Germany making the Balkans their economic sphere of influence, but would regard any move to make the Balkans into a sphere of German political influence as most unwelcome.

In April 1939, when Ribbentrop announced at a secret meeting of the Auswärtiges Amt's senior staff that Germany was ending talks with the Poles and was instead going to destroy Poland in an operation late that year, the news was greeted joyfully by those present. Anti Polish feelings had long been rampant in the Auswärtiges Amt, and so in marked contrast to their cool attitude about attacking Czechoslovakia in 1938, diplomats like Weizsäcker were highly enthusiastic about the prospect of war with Poland in 1939. Professional diplomats like Weizsäcker who had never accepted the legitimacy of Poland, which they saw as an "abomination" created by the Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of...

, were whole-hearted in their support of a war to wipe Poland off the map. This degree of unity within the German government with both the diplomats of the Auswärtiges Amt together with the military united in their support of Hitler's anti-Polish policy, which stood in contrast to their views the previous year about destroying Czechoslovakia, very much encouraged Hitler and Ribbentrop with their chosen course of action.

In April 1939, Ribbentrop received intelligence that Britain and Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 were negotiating an alliance intended to keep Germany out of the Balkans. On April 23, 1939 the Turkish Foreign Minister Şükrü Saracoğlu
Sükrü Saracoglu
Mehmet Şükrü Saracoğlu was a Turkish politician and the sixth Prime Minister of Republic of Turkey. He was also the chairman of Fenerbahçe S.K. for 16 years between 1934-1950, including his time as prime minister as well.-Biography:...

 told the British Ambassador of his nation's fears of Italian claims of the Mediterranean as Mare Nostrum
Mare Nostrum
Mare Nostrum may refer to:*Mare Nostrum, the Roman term for the Mediterranean Sea, adopted by Italian nationalists and fascists.*Mare Nostrum , a Spanish-language novel by Vicente Blasco Ibáñez...

 and German control of the Balkans, and suggested an Anglo-Soviet-Turkish alliance as the best way of countering the Axis. As the Germans had broken the Turkish diplomatic codes, Ribbentrop was well aware as he warned in a circular to German embassies that Anglo-Turkish talks had gone much further "than what the Turks would care to tell us". Ribbentrop appointed Franz von Papen
Franz von Papen
Lieutenant-Colonel Franz Joseph Hermann Michael Maria von Papen zu Köningen was a German nobleman, Roman Catholic monarchist politician, General Staff officer, and diplomat, who served as Chancellor of Germany in 1932 and as Vice-Chancellor under Adolf Hitler in 1933–1934...

 as the German Ambassador in Ankara
Ankara
Ankara is the capital of Turkey and the country's second largest city after Istanbul. The city has a mean elevation of , and as of 2010 the metropolitan area in the entire Ankara Province had a population of 4.4 million....

 with instructions to win Turkey to an alliance with Germany. Ribbentrop had been attempting to appoint Papen as an Ambassador to Turkey since April 1938. His first attempt ended in failure when the Turkish President Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was an Ottoman and Turkish army officer, revolutionary statesman, writer, and the first President of Turkey. He is credited with being the founder of the Republic of Turkey....

, who remembered Papen well with considerable distaste from World War I, refused to accept him as Ambassador, complaining in private the nomination of Papen must have been meant as some sort of German sick joke. The German Embassy in Ankara had been vacant ever since the death of the previous ambassador Friedrich von Keller in November 1938, and Ribbentrop was only able to get the Turks to accept Papen as Ambassador when the Turkish Foreign Minister Şükrü Saracoğlu
Sükrü Saracoglu
Mehmet Şükrü Saracoğlu was a Turkish politician and the sixth Prime Minister of Republic of Turkey. He was also the chairman of Fenerbahçe S.K. for 16 years between 1934-1950, including his time as prime minister as well.-Biography:...

 complained to Kroll in April 1939 about when the Germans were ever going to sent a new ambassador. Papen’s attempt to address Turkish fears of Italian expansionism by getting Ribbentrop to have Count Galeazzo Ciano
Galeazzo Ciano
Gian Galeazzo Ciano, 2nd Count of Cortellazzo and Buccari was an Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Benito Mussolini's son-in-law. In early 1944 Count Ciano was shot by firing squad at the behest of his father-in-law, Mussolini under pressure from Nazi Germany.-Early life:Ciano was born in...

 promise the Turks that they had nothing to fear from Italy backfired when the Turks found the Italo-German effort to be both patronizing and insulting.

Instead of focusing on talking to the Turks, Ribbentrop and Papen became entangled in a feud over Papen's demand that he by-pass Ribbentrop and send his dispatches straight to Hitler. As a former Chancellor, Papen had granted this privilege of by-passing the Foreign Minister while he was Ambassador to Austria. Ribbentrop's friendship with Papen, which went back to 1918, ended over this issue. At the same time, Ribbentrop took to shouting at the Turkish Ambassador in Berlin, Mehemet Hamdi Arpag, as part of the effort to win Turkey over as a German ally. Ribbentrop believed that Turks were so stupid that only by shouting at them could one make them understand. One of the consequences of Ribbentrop's heavy-handed behavior was the signing of the Anglo-Turkish alliance of 12 May 1939.

From early 1939 onwards, Ribbentrop had become the leading advocate within the German government of reaching an understanding with the Soviet Union as the best way of pursuing both the short-term anti-Polish, and long-term anti-British foreign policy goals. Ribbentrop first seems to have considered the idea of a pact with the Soviet Union after an unsuccessful visit to Warsaw
Warsaw
Warsaw is the capital and largest city of Poland. It is located on the Vistula River, roughly from the Baltic Sea and from the Carpathian Mountains. Its population in 2010 was estimated at 1,716,855 residents with a greater metropolitan area of 2,631,902 residents, making Warsaw the 10th most...

 in January 1939, when the Poles again refused Ribbentrop's demands about Danzig, the "extra-territorial" roads across the Polish Corridor and the Anti-Comintern Pact. During the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact negotiations
Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact negotiations
The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact was an August 23, 1939 agreement between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany colloquially named after Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov and German foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop. The treaty renounced warfare between the two countries...

, Ribbentrop was overjoyed by a report from his Ambassador in Moscow, Count Friedrich Werner von der Schulenburg
Friedrich Werner von der Schulenburg
Friedrich-Werner Graf von der Schulenburg was a German diplomat who served as the last German ambassador to the Soviet Union before Operation Barbarossa. He began his diplomatic career before World War I, serving as consul and ambassador in several countries...

, of a speech by the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

 before the 18th Party Congress in March 1939 that was strongly anti-Western, which Schulenburg reported meant that the Soviet Union might be seeking an accord with Germany. Ribbentrop followed up Schulenburg's report by sending Dr. Julius Schnurre of the Auswärtiges Amts Trade Department to negotiate a German-Soviet economic agreement. At the same time, Ribbentrop's efforts to convert the Anti-Comintern Pact into an anti-British alliance met with considerable hostility from the Japanese over the course of the winter of 1938–39, but with the Italians Ribbentrop enjoyed some apparent success. Because of Japanese opposition to participation in an anti-British alliance, Ribbentrop decided to settle for a bilateral German-Italian anti-British treaty. Ribbentrop's efforts were crowned with success with the signing of the Pact of Steel
Pact of Steel
The Pact of Steel , known formally as the Pact of Friendship and Alliance between Germany and Italy, was an agreement between Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany signed on May 22, 1939, by the foreign ministers of each country and witnessed by Count Galeazzo Ciano for Italy and Joachim von Ribbentrop...

 in May 1939, through this was accomplished only by falsely assuring Mussolini that there would be no war for the next three years.

Pact with the Soviet Union and the outbreak of World War II



Ribbentrop played a key role in the conclusion of a Soviet-German non-aggression pact
Non-aggression pact
A non-aggression pact is an international treaty between two or more states/countries agreeing to avoid war or armed conflict between them and resolve their disputes through peaceful negotiations...

, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact
Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact
The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, named after the Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov and the German foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, was an agreement officially titled the Treaty of Non-Aggression between Germany and the Soviet Union and signed in Moscow in the late hours of 23 August 1939...

, in 1939, and in the diplomatic action surrounding the attack on Poland. In public, Ribbentrop expressed great fury at the Polish refusal to allow for Danzig's return to the Reich, or to grant Polish permission for the "extra-territorial" highways, but since these matters were only intended after March 1939 to be a pretext for German aggression, Ribbentrop always refused in private to allow for any talks between German and Polish diplomats about these matters. It was Ribbentrop's fear that if German-Polish talks did take place, there was the danger that the Poles might back down and agree to the German demands as the Czechoslovaks had done in 1938 under Anglo-French pressure, and thereby deprive the Germans of their excuse for aggression. To further block German-Polish diplomatic talks, Ribbentrop had the German Ambassador to Poland, Count Hans-Adolf von Moltke, recalled, and refused to see the Polish Ambassador, Józef Lipski
Józef Lipski
Józef Lipski . Polish diplomat and Ambassador to Nazi Germany, 1934 to 1939. Lipski played a key role in foreign policy of Second Polish Republic.-Life:Lipski trained as a lawyer, and joined the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1925....

. On 25 May 1939, Ribbentrop sent a secret message to Moscow to tell the Soviet Foreign Commissar, Vyacheslav Molotov
Vyacheslav Molotov
Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov was a Soviet politician and diplomat, an Old Bolshevik and a leading figure in the Soviet government from the 1920s, when he rose to power as a protégé of Joseph Stalin, to 1957, when he was dismissed from the Presidium of the Central Committee by Nikita Khrushchev...

, that if Germany attacked Poland "Russia's special interests would be taken into consideration".

Throughout 1939, in private, Hitler always referred to Britain as his main opponent, but portrayed the coming destruction of Poland as a necessary prelude to any war with Britain. A notable contradiction existed in Hitler's strategic planning between embarking on an anti-British foreign policy, whose major instruments consisted of a vastly expanded Kriegsmarine
Kriegsmarine
The Kriegsmarine was the name of the German Navy during the Nazi regime . It superseded the Kaiserliche Marine of World War I and the post-war Reichsmarine. The Kriegsmarine was one of three official branches of the Wehrmacht, the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany.The Kriegsmarine grew rapidly...

 and a Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

 capable of a strategic bombing offensive that would take several years to build (e.g. Plan Z
Plan Z
Plan Z was the name given to the planned re-equipment and expansion of the Nazi German Navy ordered by Adolf Hitler on January 27, 1939...

 for expanding the Kriegsmarine was a five year plan), and engaging in reckless short-term actions such as attacking Poland that were likely to cause a general war. Ribbentrop, for his part, because of his status as the Nazi British expert, resolved Hitler's dilemma by supporting the anti-British line and by repeatedly advising Hitler that Britain would not go to war for Poland in 1939. Ribbentrop informed Hitler that any war with Poland would last for only 24 hours, and that the British would be so stunned with this display of German power that they would not honour their commitments. Along the same lines, Ribbentrop told the Italian Foreign Minister Count Galeazzo Ciano
Galeazzo Ciano
Gian Galeazzo Ciano, 2nd Count of Cortellazzo and Buccari was an Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Benito Mussolini's son-in-law. In early 1944 Count Ciano was shot by firing squad at the behest of his father-in-law, Mussolini under pressure from Nazi Germany.-Early life:Ciano was born in...

 on 5 May 1939 "It is certain that within a few months not one Frenchman nor a single Englishman will go to war for Poland". Ribbentrop supported his analysis of the situation by only showing Hitler diplomatic dispatches that supported his view that neither Britain or France would honour their commitments to Poland. In this, Ribbentrop was particularly supported by the German Ambassador in London, Herbert von Dirksen
Herbert von Dirksen
Herbert von Dirksen was a German diplomat who is best remembered as the last German Ambassador to Britain before World War II.- Biography :...

, who reported that Chamberlain knew "the social structure of Britain, even the conception of the British Empire, would not survive the chaos of even a victorious war", and so would back down over Poland. Furthermore, Ribbentrop had the German Embassy in London provide translations from pro-appeasement newspapers like the Daily Mail
Daily Mail
The Daily Mail is a British daily middle-market tabloid newspaper owned by the Daily Mail and General Trust. First published in 1896 by Lord Northcliffe, it is the United Kingdom's second biggest-selling daily newspaper after The Sun. Its sister paper The Mail on Sunday was launched in 1982...

 and the Daily Express
Daily Express
The Daily Express switched from broadsheet to tabloid in 1977 and was bought by the construction company Trafalgar House in the same year. Its publishing company, Beaverbrook Newspapers, was renamed Express Newspapers...

 for Hitler's benefit, which had the effect of making it seem that British public opinion was more strongly against going to war for Poland then was actually the case. The British historian Victor Rothwell wrote that the newspapers that Ribbentrop used to provide his press summaries for Hitler, such as the Daily Express and the Daily Mail, were out of touch not only with British public opinion, but also with British government policy in regard to Poland. The press summaries Ribbentrop provided were particularly important, as Ribbentrop had managed to convince Hitler that the British government secretly controlled the British press, and just as in Germany, nothing appeared in the British press that the British government did not want to appear. Furthermore, the Germans had broken the British diplomatic codes and were reading the messages between the Foreign Office in London to and from the Embassy in Warsaw. The decrypts showed that there was much tension in Anglo-Polish relations with the British pressuring the Poles to allow Danzig to rejoin the Reich and the Poles staunchly resisting all efforts to pressure them into concessions to Germany. On the basis of such decrypts, Hitler and Ribbentrop believed that the British were bluffing with their warnings that they would go to war to defend Polish independence. During the summer of 1939, Ribbentrop sabotaged all efforts at a peaceful solution to the Danzig dispute, leading the American historian Gerhard Weinberg
Gerhard Weinberg
Gerhard Ludwig Weinberg is a German-born American diplomatic and military historian noted for his studies in the history of World War II. Weinberg currently is the William Rand Kenan, Jr. Professor Emeritus of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has been a member of the...

 to comment that "perhaps Chamberlain's haggard appearance did him more credit than Ribbentrop's beaming smile" as the countdown to a war that would kill millions inexorably gathered pace.

Neville Chamberlain's European Policy
Neville Chamberlain's European Policy
Neville Chamberlain's European Policy was based on a commitment to "peace for our time."- Commitment to peace :As with many in Europe who had witnessed the horrors of the First World War and its aftermath, Chamberlain was committed to peace...

 in 1939 was based upon creating a "peace front" of alliances linking Western and Eastern European states to serve as a "tripwire" meant to deter any act of German aggression The new “containment” strategy adopted in March 1939 comprised giving firm warnings to Berlin, increasing the pace of British rearmament and attempting to form an interlocking network of alliances that would block German aggression anywhere in Europe by creating such a formidable deterrence to aggression that Hitler could not rationally chose that option. Underlying the basis of the “containment” of Germany was the so-called “X documents” provided by Carl Friedrich Goerdeler
Carl Friedrich Goerdeler
Carl Friedrich Goerdeler was a monarchist conservative German politician, executive, economist, civil servant and opponent of the Nazi regime...

 over the course of the winter of 1938–39 which suggested that the German economy, under the strain of massive military spending was on the verge of collapse, and which led British policy-makers to the conclusion that if Hitler could be deterred from war and if his regime was “contained” long enough, then the German economy would collapse, and with it, presumably the Nazi regime. At the same time, British policy-makers were afraid if Hitler were “contained”, and faced with a collapsing economy he would commit a desperate “mad dog act” of aggression as a way of lashing out. Hence, the emphasis on pressuring the Poles to allow the return of Danzig to Germany as a way of peacefully resolving the crisis by allowing Hitler to back down without losing face. As part of a dual strategy to avoid war via deterrence and appeasement of Germany, British leaders warned that they would go to war if Germany attacked Poland while at the same time tried to avoid war by holding unofficial talks with such would be peace-makers like the British newspaper proprietor Lord Kemsley, the Swedish businessman Axel Wenner-Gren
Axel Wenner-Gren
Axel Lennart Wenner-Gren was a Swedish entrepreneur and one of the wealthiest men in the world during the 1930s....

 and an another Swedish businessmen Birger Dahlerus
Birger Dahlerus
Johan Birger Essen Dahlerus was a Swedish businessman, amateur diplomat, and friend of Hermann Göring who tried through diplomatic channels to prevent the Second World War...

 who attempted to work out the basis for a peaceful return of Danzig. Ribbentrop and Hitler misunderstood the British attempts to provide for a peaceful settlement of the Danzig crisis as a sign that Britain would not go to war for Poland.

In May 1939, as part of his efforts to bully Turkey into joining the Axis, Ribbentrop had arranged for the cancellation of the delivery of 60 heavy howitzers from the Škoda Works
Škoda Works
Škoda Works was the largest industrial enterprise in Austro-Hungary and later in Czechoslovakia, one of its successor states. It was also one of the largest industrial conglomerates in Europe in the 20th century...

, which the Turks had paid for in advance. The German refusal either to deliver the artillery pieces or refund the 125 million Reichsmarks the Turks had paid in advance for them was to be a major strain on German-Turkish relations in 1939, and had the effect of causing Turkey’s politically powerful army to resist Ribbentrop’s entreaties to join the Axis. As part of the fierce diplomatic competition in Ankara
Ankara
Ankara is the capital of Turkey and the country's second largest city after Istanbul. The city has a mean elevation of , and as of 2010 the metropolitan area in the entire Ankara Province had a population of 4.4 million....

 in the spring and summer of 1939 between Franz von Papen
Franz von Papen
Lieutenant-Colonel Franz Joseph Hermann Michael Maria von Papen zu Köningen was a German nobleman, Roman Catholic monarchist politician, General Staff officer, and diplomat, who served as Chancellor of Germany in 1932 and as Vice-Chancellor under Adolf Hitler in 1933–1934...

 on the one hand, and on the other the French Ambassador, René Massigli
René Massigli
René Massigli was a French diplomat who played a leading as a senior official at the Quai d'Orsay, and was regarded as one of the leading French experts on Germany.-Early career:...

, and the British Ambassador, Sir Hughe Knatchbull-Hugessen
Hughe Knatchbull-Hugessen
Sir Hughe Montgomery Knatchbull-Hugessen KCMG was a British diplomat, civil servant and author.-Background and education:...

, to win the allegiance of Turkey to either the Axis or the Allies, Ribbentrop suffered a major reversal in July 1939 when Massigli was able to arrange for major French arms shipments to Turkey on credit, to replace the weapons the Germans refused to deliver to the Turks.

In June 1939, Franco-German relations were strained when the head of the French section of the Dienststelle Ribbentrop, Otto Abetz
Otto Abetz
Dr. Heinrich Otto Abetz was the German ambassador to Vichy France during World War II.-Early years:Abetz was born in Schwetzingen on May 26, 1903. He was the son of an estate manager, who died when Otto was only 13...

, was expelled from France following allegations that he had bribed two French newspaper editors to print pro-German articles. Ribbentrop was enraged by Abetz's expulsion, and attacked Count Johannes von Welczeck, the German Ambassador in Paris, over his failure to have the French re-admit Abetz. In July 1939, Ribbentrop's claims about Bonnet's alleged statement of December 1938 were to lead to a lengthy war of words via a series of letters to the French newspapers between Bonnet and Ribbentrop over just what precisely Bonnet had said to Ribbentrop. In the spring and summer of 1939, Ribbentrop used Bonnet's alleged statement to convince Hitler that France would not go to war in the defense of Poland, despite the frequent denials by Bonnet that he ever made such a statement (which would not have been legally binding even had Bonnet had made the alleged statement; only a formal renunciation of the Franco-Polish treaty by the French National Assembly would end the French commitment to Poland).

On 11 August 1939, Ribbentrop met the Italian Foreign Minister, Count Galeazzo Ciano
Galeazzo Ciano
Gian Galeazzo Ciano, 2nd Count of Cortellazzo and Buccari was an Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Benito Mussolini's son-in-law. In early 1944 Count Ciano was shot by firing squad at the behest of his father-in-law, Mussolini under pressure from Nazi Germany.-Early life:Ciano was born in...

, and the Italian Ambassador to Germany, Count Bernardo Attolico, in Salzburg
Salzburg
-Population development:In 1935, the population significantly increased when Salzburg absorbed adjacent municipalities. After World War II, numerous refugees found a new home in the city. New residential space was created for American soldiers of the postwar Occupation, and could be used for...

. During that meeting, both Ciano and Attolico were horrified to learn from Ribbentrop that Germany planned to attack Poland that summer, and that the Danzig issue was just a pretext for aggression. When Ciano asked if there was anything Italy could do to broker a Polish-German settlement that would avert a war, he was told by Ribbentrop that "We want war!". Ribbentrop expressed his firmly-held belief that neither Britain nor France would go to war for Poland, but if that should occur, he fully expected the Italians to honour the terms of the Pact of Steel
Pact of Steel
The Pact of Steel , known formally as the Pact of Friendship and Alliance between Germany and Italy, was an agreement between Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany signed on May 22, 1939, by the foreign ministers of each country and witnessed by Count Galeazzo Ciano for Italy and Joachim von Ribbentrop...

 (which was both an offensive and defensive treaty), and declare war not only on Poland, but on the Western powers if necessary. Ribbentrop told his Italian guests that "the localization of the conflict is certain" and "the probability of victory is infinite". Ribbentrop brushed away Ciano's fears of a general war because "France and England cannot intervene because they are insufficiently prepared militarily and because they have no means of injuring Germany". Ciano complained furiously that Ribbentrop had violated his promise given only that spring, when Italy signed the Pact of Steel
Pact of Steel
The Pact of Steel , known formally as the Pact of Friendship and Alliance between Germany and Italy, was an agreement between Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany signed on May 22, 1939, by the foreign ministers of each country and witnessed by Count Galeazzo Ciano for Italy and Joachim von Ribbentrop...

, that there would be no war for the next three years. Ciano said that it was absurd to believe that the Reich could attack Poland without triggering a wider war and that now the Italians were left with the choice of either going to war when they needed three more years to rearm or being forced into the humiliation of having to violate the terms of the Pact of Steel by declaring neutrality (which would make the Italians appear cowardly). Ciano complained in his diary that his arguments "had no effect" (niente da fare) on Ribbentrop, who simply refused to believe any information that did not fit in with his preconceived notions. Despite Ciano's efforts to persuade Ribbentrop to put off the attack on Poland until 1942, so as to allow the Italians time to get ready for war, Ribbentrop was adamant that Germany had no interest in a diplomatic solution of the Danzig question and only wanted a war to wipe Poland off the map. The Salzburg meeting marked the moment when Ciano's dislike of Ribbentrop was transformed into outright hatred, and of the beginning of his disillusionment with the pro-German foreign policy that he had championed up to that time.

On 21 August 1939, Hitler received a message from Stalin reading "The Soviet Government has instructed me to say they agree to Herr von Ribbentrop's arrival on 23 August". That same day, Hitler ordered German mobilization. The extent that Hitler was influenced by Ribbentrop's advice can be seen in Hitler's orders for a limited mobilization against Poland alone. Weizsäcker recorded in his diary throughout the spring and summer of 1939 repeated statements from Hitler that any German-Polish war would be only a localized conflict and provided that the Soviet Union could be persuaded to stay neutral, there was no danger of a general war. Hitler believed that British policy was based upon securing Soviet support for Poland, which led him to perform a diplomatic U-turn and support Ribbentrop's policy of rapprochement with the Soviet Union as the best way of ensuring a local war. This was especially the case as decrypts showed the British military attaché to Poland arguing that Britain could not save Poland in the event of a German attack, and only Soviet support offered the prospect of Poland holding out.

The signing of the Non-Aggression Pact in Moscow on 23 August 1939 was the crowning achievement of Ribbentrop's career. Ribbentrop flew to Moscow, where, over the course of a thirteen hour visit, Ribbentrop signed both the Non-Aggression Pact and the secret protocols, which partitioned much of Eastern Europe between the Soviets and the Germans. Ribbentrop had only expected to see the Soviet Foreign Commissar Vyacheslav Molotov
Vyacheslav Molotov
Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov was a Soviet politician and diplomat, an Old Bolshevik and a leading figure in the Soviet government from the 1920s, when he rose to power as a protégé of Joseph Stalin, to 1957, when he was dismissed from the Presidium of the Central Committee by Nikita Khrushchev...

, and was most surprised to be holding talks with Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

. During his trip to Moscow, Ribbentrop's talks with Stalin and Molotov proceed very cordially and efficiently with the exception of the question of Latvia
Latvia
Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

, which Hitler had instructed Ribbentrop to try to claim for Germany. When Stalin claimed Latvia for the Soviet Union, Ribbentrop was forced to telephone Berlin for permission from Hitler to concede Latvia to the Soviets. After finishing his talks with Stalin and Molotov, Ribbentrop, at a dinner with the Soviet leaders, launched into a lengthy diatribe against the British Empire, with frequent interjections of approval from Stalin, and then exchanged toasts with Stalin in honour of German-Soviet friendship. For a brief moment in August 1939, Ribbentrop convinced Hitler that the Non-Aggression Pact with the Soviet Union would cause the fall of the Chamberlain government, and lead to a new British government that would abandon the Poles to their fate. Ribbentrop argued that with Soviet economic support (especially in the form of oil), Germany was now immune to the effects of a British naval blockade, and as such, the British would never take on Germany. On 23 August 1939 at a secret meeting of the Reichs top military leadership at the Berghof, Hitler argued neither Britain nor France would go to war for Poland without the Soviet Union, and fixed "X-Day", the date for the invasion of Poland for 26 August. Hitler added that "My only fear is that at the last moment some Schweinehund will make a proposal for mediation". Unlike Hitler, who saw the Non-Aggression Pact as merely a pragmatic device forced on him by circumstances, namely the refusal of Britain or Poland to play the roles Hitler had allocated to them, Ribbentrop regarded the Non-Aggression Pact as integral to his anti-British policy.

The signing of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact on August 23, 1939 not only won Germany an informal alliance with the Soviet Union, but also neutralized Anglo-French attempts to win Turkey to the “peace front”. The Turks always believed that it was essential to have the Soviet Union as an ally to counter Germany, and the signing of the German-Soviet pact undercut completely the assumptions behind Turkish security policy. The Anglo-French effort to include the Balkans into the “peace front” had always rested on the assumption that the cornerstone of the “peace front” in the Balkans was to be Turkey, the regional super-power. Because of the Balkans were rich in raw materials like iron, zinc and above all oil that could help Germany survive a British blockade, it was viewed as highly important by the Allies to keep German influence in the Balkans to a minimum, hence British efforts to link British promises to support Turkey in the event of an Italian attack in exchange for Turkish promises to help defend Romania from a German attack. British and French leaders believed that the deterrent value of the “peace front” could be increased if Turkey were a member and if the Turkish Straits
Turkish Straits
The term Turkish Straits refers to the two narrow straits in northwestern Turkey, the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles, that connect the Sea of Marmara with the Black Sea on one side and the Aegean arm of the Mediterranean Sea on the other. They are conventionally considered the boundary between the...

 were open to Allied ships. This would not only allow the Allies to send over the Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

 troops and supplies to Romania, but also through Romania to Poland.

On 25 August 1939, Ribbentrop's influence with Hitler wavered for a moment when the news reached Berlin of the ratification of the Anglo-Polish military alliance and a personal message from Mussolini telling Hitler that Italy would dishonour the Pact of Steel if Germany attacked Poland. This was especially damaging to Ribbentrop, as he always assured Hitler that "Italy's attitude is determined by the Rome-Berlin Axis". As a result of the message from Rome and the ratification of the Anglo-Polish treaty, Hitler cancelled the invasion of Poland which was planned for 26 August, and instead ordered it held back until 1 September in order to give Germany some time to break up the unfavorable international alignment. Though Ribbentrop continued to argue that Britain and France were bluffing, both he and Hitler were prepared as a last resort to risk a general war by invading Poland. Because of Ribbentrop's firmly held views that Britain was Germany's most dangerous enemy and that an Anglo-German war was thus inevitable, it scarcely mattered to him when his much desired war with Britain came. The Greek historian Aristotle Kaillis wrote that it was Ribbentrop's influence with Hitler together with his insistence that the Western powers would in the end not go to war for Poland that was the most important reason why Hitler did not cancel Fall Weiß
Fall Weiß (1939)
Fall Weiss was the Nazi strategic plan for the invasion of Poland. The German military High Command finalized its operational orders on 15 June 1939 and the invasion commenced on 1 September, precipitating World War II.- Plan details :The origins of the plan went back to 1928 when Werner von...

 all together instead of postponing "X-day" for six days. Ribbentrop told Hitler that his sources showed that Britain would only be militarily prepared to take on Germany at the earliest in 1940 or more probably 1941, so this could only mean that the British were bluffing. Even if the British were serious in their warnings of war, Ribbentrop took the view that since a war with Britain was inevitable, the risk of a war with Britain was an acceptable one and accordingly he argued that Germany should not shy away from such challenges.

On 27 August 1939, Chamberlain sent the following letter to Hitler, which was intended to counteract reports Chamberlain had heard from intelligence sources in Berlin that Ribbentrop had convinced Hitler that the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact
Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact
The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, named after the Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov and the German foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, was an agreement officially titled the Treaty of Non-Aggression between Germany and the Soviet Union and signed in Moscow in the late hours of 23 August 1939...

 would ensure that Britain would abandon Poland. In his letter to Hitler, Chamberlain wrote:
"Whatever may prove to be the nature of the German-Soviet Agreement, it cannot alter Great Britain's obligation to Poland which His Majesty's Government have stated in public repeatedly and plainly and which they are determined to fulfil.

It has been alleged that, if His Majesty's Government had made their position more clear in 1914, the great catastrophe would have been avoided. Whether or not there is any force in that allegation, His Majesty's Government are resolved that on this occasion there shall be no such tragic misunderstanding.

If the case should arise, they are resolved, and prepared, to employ without delay all the forces at their command, and it is impossible to foresee the end of hostilities once engaged. It would be a dangerous illusion to think that, if war once starts, it will come to an early end even if a success on any one of the several fronts on which it will be engaged should have been secured"
Ribbentrop for his part told Hitler that Chamberlain's letter was just a bluff, and urged his master to call it.
On the night of 30–31 August 1939, Ribbentrop had an extremely heated exchange with the British Ambassador, Sir Nevile Henderson
Nevile Henderson
Sir Nevile Meyrick Henderson, KCMG , was the third child of Robert and Emma Henderson and was born at Sedgwick Park near Horsham, West Sussex. Ambassador of Great Britain to Germany from 1937 to 1939, he believed that Adolf Hitler could be controlled and pushed toward peace and cooperation with...

, who objected to Ribbentrop's demand, given at about midnight, that if a Polish plenipotentiary did not arrive in Berlin that night to discuss the German "final offer", then the responsibility for the outbreak of war would not rest on the Reich. Henderson stated that the terms of the German "final offer" were very reasonable, but argued that Ribbentrop's time limit for Polish acceptance of the "final offer" was most unreasonable, and furthermore, demanded to know why Ribbentrop insisted upon seeing a special Polish plenipotentiary and could not present the "final offer" to Józef Lipski
Józef Lipski
Józef Lipski . Polish diplomat and Ambassador to Nazi Germany, 1934 to 1939. Lipski played a key role in foreign policy of Second Polish Republic.-Life:Lipski trained as a lawyer, and joined the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1925....

 or provide a written copy of the "final offer". The Henderson-Ribbentrop meeting became so tense that the two men almost came to blows. The American historian Gerhard Weinberg
Gerhard Weinberg
Gerhard Ludwig Weinberg is a German-born American diplomatic and military historian noted for his studies in the history of World War II. Weinberg currently is the William Rand Kenan, Jr. Professor Emeritus of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has been a member of the...

 described the Henderson-Ribbentrop meeting in this way:
"When Joachim von Ribbentrop refused to give a copy of the German demands to the British Ambassador [Henderson] at midnight of 30–31 August 1939, the two almost came to blows. Ambassador Henderson, who had long advocated concessions to Germany, recognized that here was a deliberately conceived alibi the German government had prepared for a war it was determined to start. No wonder Henderson was angry; von Ribbentrop on the other hand could see war ahead and went home beaming."
As intended by Ribbentrop, the narrow time limit for acceptance of the "final offer" made it impossible for the British government to contact the Polish government in time about the German offer, let alone for the Poles to arrange for a Polish plenipotentiary envoy to arrive in Berlin that night, thereby allowing Ribbentrop to claim that the Poles had rejected the German "final offer". As it was, a special meeting of the British cabinet called to consider the "final offer", they declined to pass on the message to Warsaw under the grounds this was not a serious proposal on the part of Berlin. The "rejection" of the German proposal was one of the pretexts used for the German aggression against Poland on 1 September 1939. The British historian D.C. Watt wrote "Two hours later, Berlin Radio broadcast the sixteen points, adding that Poland had rejected them. Thanks to Ribbentrop, they had never even seen them". On August 31, Ribbentrop met with Attolico to tell him that Poland's "rejection" of the "generous" German 16-point peace plan meant that Germany had no interest in Mussolini's offer to call a conference about the status of Danzig. Besides for the Polish "rejection" of the German "final offer", the aggression against Poland was justified by the Gleiwitz incident
Gleiwitz incident
The Gleiwitz incident was a staged attack by Nazi forces posing as Poles on 31 August 1939, against the German radio station Sender Gleiwitz in Gleiwitz, Upper Silesia, Germany on the eve of World War II in Europe....

 and other SS-staged incidents on the German-Polish border.

As soon as the news broke in the morning of 1 September 1939 that Germany had invaded Poland, the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was an Italian politician who led the National Fascist Party and is credited with being one of the key figures in the creation of Fascism....

 launched another desperate peace mediation plan intended to stop the German-Polish war from becoming a world war. Mussolini's motives had nothing with anything altruistic, and were instead motivated entirely to escape his self-imposed trap of the Pact of Steel, which had obligated Italy to go war when the country was entirely unprepared or suffer the humiliation of having to declare neutrality, which make him appear cowardly. The French Foreign Minister Georges Bonnet
Georges Bonnet
Not to be confused with the French Socialist Georges MonnetGeorges-Étienne Bonnet was a French politician and leading figure in the Radical-Socialist Party.- Early career :...

 acting on his initiative told the Italian Ambassador to France Baron Raffaele Guariglia that France had accepted Mussolini's peace plan. Bonnet had Havas
Havas
Havas is the second largest advertising group in France and is a "Global advertising and communications services group" and the sixth-largest global advertising and communications group worldwide, operating on the communications consulting market through three main operational divisions:*Euro RSCG...

 issued a statement at midnight on 1 September saying:"The French government has today, as have several other Governments, received an Italian proposal looking to the resolution of Europe's difficulties. After due consideration, the French government has given a "positive response". Through the French and the Italians were serious about Mussolini's peace plan, which called for an immediate ceasefire and a four-power conference à la Munich to consider Poland's borders, the British Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax stated that unless the Germans withdrew from Poland immediately, then Britain would not attend the proposed conference. Ribbentrop finally scuttled Mussolini's peace plan by stating that Germany had utterly no interest in a ceasefire, in a withdrawal from Poland and in attending the proposed peace conference.

When on the morning of 3 September 1939 Chamberlain followed through with his threat of a British declaration of war if Germany attacked Poland, a visibly shocked Hitler asked Ribbentrop "Now what?", a question to which Ribbentrop had no answer except to state that there would be a "similar message" forthcoming from the French Ambassador Robert Coulondre, who arrived later that afternoon to present the French declaration of war. Weizsäcker later recalled that "On 3 Sept., when the British and French declared war, Hitler was surprised, after all, and was to begin with, at a loss". The British historian Richard Overy
Richard Overy
Richard Overy is a British historian who has published extensively on the history of World War II and the Third Reich. In 2007 as The Times editor of Complete History of the World he chose the 50 key dates of world history....

 wrote that what Hitler thought he was starting in September 1939 was only a local war between Germany and Poland, and his decision to do so was largely because he vastly underestimated the risks of a general war. In part due to Ribbentrop's influence, it has been often observed that Hitler went to war in 1939 with the country he wanted as his ally – namely the United Kingdom – as his enemy, and the country he wanted as his enemy – namely the Soviet Union – as his ally.

After the outbreak of World War II, Ribbentrop spent most of the Polish campaign travelling with Hitler. On 27 September 1939, Ribbentrop made a second visit to Moscow, where at meetings with the Soviet Foreign Commissar Vyacheslav Molotov
Vyacheslav Molotov
Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov was a Soviet politician and diplomat, an Old Bolshevik and a leading figure in the Soviet government from the 1920s, when he rose to power as a protégé of Joseph Stalin, to 1957, when he was dismissed from the Presidium of the Central Committee by Nikita Khrushchev...

 and Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

, he was forced to agree to revising the Secret Protocols of the Non-Aggression Pact in the Soviet Union's favour, most notably agreeing to Stalin's demand that Lithuania
Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

 go to the Soviet Union. The imposition of the British blockade had made the Reich highly dependent upon Soviet economic support, which placed Stalin in a strong negotiating position with Ribbentrop. On 1 March 1940, Ribbentrop received Sumner Welles
Sumner Welles
Benjamin Sumner Welles was an American government official and diplomat in the Foreign Service. He was a major foreign policy adviser to President Franklin D. Roosevelt and served as Under Secretary of State from 1937 to 1943, during FDR's presidency.-Early life:Benjamin Sumner Welles was born in...

, the American Under-Secretary of State, who was on a peace mission for President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

, and did his best to abuse his American guest. Welles asked Ribbentrop what terms Germany might be willing to negotiate a compromise peace under, before the Phoney War became a real war. Ribbentrop told Welles that only a total German victory "could give us the peace we want". Welles reported to Roosevelt that Ribbentrop had a "completely closed and very stupid mind". On 10 March 1940, Ribbentrop visited Rome where he met Mussolini, who promised him that Italy would soon enter the war. For his one-day Italian trip, Ribbentrop was accompanied by a staff of thirty-five, including a gymnastics coach, a masseur, a doctor, two hairdressers, plus various legal and economic experts from the Auswärtiges Amt. After the Italo-German summit at the Brenner Pass on 18 March 1940, which was attended by Hitler and Mussolini, Count Ciano wrote in his diary: "Everyone in Rome dislikes Ribbentrop". On 7 May 1940, Ribbentrop founded a new section of the Auswärtiges Amt, the Abteilung Deutschland (Department of Internal German Affairs) under Martin Luther
Martin Luther (diplomat)
Martin Franz Julius Luther was an early member of the Nazi Party. He served as an advisor to Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, first in the Dienststelle Ribbentrop , and later in the Auswärtiges Amt as a diplomat when von Ribbentrop replaced Konstantin von Neurath...

, to which was assigned the responsibility for all anti-Semitic affairs. On 10 May 1940, Ribbentrop summoned the Dutch, Belgian and Luxembourg ambassadors to present them with notes justifying the German invasion of their countries, several hours after the Germans had invaded those nations. Much to Ribbentrop's fury, someone leaked the plans for the German invasion to the Dutch Embassy in Berlin, which led Ribbentrop to devote the next several months to conducting an unsuccessful investigation into who leaked the news. This investigation tore apart Auswärtiges Amt, as colleagues were encouraged to denounce each other.

With his appointment as Foreign Minister, Ribbentrop became more abrasive and arrogant. On 19 May 1940 Ribbentrop met the new Italian Ambassador Dino Alfieri
Dino Alfieri
Edoardo Alfieri was an Italian fascist politician.Alfieri was born in Bologna. In 1911 he finished law studies and soon after joined the nationalist group formed by Enrico Corradini...

, who described the meeting as follows:
"He commented at length on the "dazzling" successes of the German armies, extolling the military genius of the Führer...who had "revealed himself as the greatest military genius since Napoleon"...He spoke of the inevitable clash between the young nations and the old; of the necessity of breaking the ring with which the Judaeo-democratic-plutocratic powers were trying to encircle Germany and Italy; and of the need to create a new European civilization. What he said was neither new, remarkable, nor particularly interesting...He talked for more than an hour in a voice which never varied in tone, resting one hand in palm of the other and periodically glancing at his fingernails...He insisted on my remaining for lunch. The food and wine were excellent, but the conversation tedious to a degree. Afterwards, he suggested we go into the garden. There he repeated in a different form all that he had already said, for all the world as if he had a gramophone fixed in his brain...When I took leave, he subjected me to an interminable handshake, meanwhile fixing his cold blue eyes on mine, and repeating almost word for word what he said to me on arrival...I felt I should never be able to establish any human contact with this man"
In early June 1940, when Mussolini informed Hitler that he at long last would enter the war on 10 June 1940, Hitler was most dismissive, in private calling Mussolini a cowardly opportunist who broke the terms of the Pact of Steel in September 1939 when the going looked rough, and was only entering the war in June 1940 after it was clear that France was beaten and it appeared that Britain would soon make peace. Ribbentrop, through he shared Hitler's assessment of the Italians, nonetheless welcomed Italy coming into war partially because it seemed to affirm the importance of the Pact of Steel, which Ribbentrop had negotiated and partly because with Italy now an ally, the Auswärtiges Amt now had more to do. Ribbentrop championed the so-called Madagascar Plan
Madagascar Plan
The Madagascar Plan was a suggested policy of the Nazi government of Germany to relocate the Jewish population of Europe to the island of Madagascar.-Origins:The evacuation of European Jews to the island of Madagascar was not a new concept...

 in June 1940 to deport all of Europe's Jews to Madagascar
Madagascar
The Republic of Madagascar is an island country located in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa...

 after the presumed imminent defeat of Britain.

Relations with wartime allies


After June 1940, Ribbentrop, who was a Francophile
Francophile
Is a person with a positive predisposition or interest toward the government, culture, history, or people of France. This could include France itself and its history, the French language, French cuisine, literature, etc...

, argued that Germany should allow Vichy France
Vichy France
Vichy France, Vichy Regime, or Vichy Government, are common terms used to describe the government of France that collaborated with the Axis powers from July 1940 to August 1944. This government succeeded the Third Republic and preceded the Provisional Government of the French Republic...

 a limited degree of independence within a binding new Franco-German partnership. To this end, Ribbentrop appointed a colleague from the Dienststelle named Otto Abetz
Otto Abetz
Dr. Heinrich Otto Abetz was the German ambassador to Vichy France during World War II.-Early years:Abetz was born in Schwetzingen on May 26, 1903. He was the son of an estate manager, who died when Otto was only 13...

 as Ambassador to France with instructions to promote the political career of Pierre Laval
Pierre Laval
Pierre Laval was a French politician. He was four times President of the council of ministers of the Third Republic, twice consecutively. Following France's Armistice with Germany in 1940, he served twice in the Vichy Regime as head of government, signing orders permitting the deportation of...

, who Ribbentrop had decided was the French politician most favourable to Germany. The amount of Auswärtiges Amt influence in France varied, as there were many other agencies competing for power there such as the military, the SS and the Four Year Plan office of Ribbentrop's archenemy Hermann Göring
Hermann Göring
Hermann Wilhelm Göring, was a German politician, military leader, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. He was a veteran of World War I as an ace fighter pilot, and a recipient of the coveted Pour le Mérite, also known as "The Blue Max"...

, but in general from late 1943 to mid-1944, the Auswärtiges Amt was second only to the SS in terms of power in France.

From the latter half of 1937, Ribbentrop had championed the idea of an alliance between Germany, Italy and Japan that would partition the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

 between them. After signing the Soviet-German Non-Aggression Pact, Ribbentrop expanded on this idea for an Axis alliance to include the Soviet Union to form a Eurasia
Eurasia
Eurasia is a continent or supercontinent comprising the traditional continents of Europe and Asia ; covering about 52,990,000 km2 or about 10.6% of the Earth's surface located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres...

n bloc that would destroy maritime states such as Britain. The German historian Klaus Hildebrand
Klaus Hildebrand
Klaus Hildebrand is a German conservative historian whose area of expertise is 19th-20th century German political and military history.- Biography :...

 argued that besides Hitler's foreign policy programme, there were three other factions within the Nazi Party who had alternative foreign policy programmes, whom Hildebrand dubbed the agrarians, the revolutionary socialists, and the Wilhelmine Imperialists. Another German diplomatic historian, Wolfgang Michalka argued that there was a fourth alternative Nazi foreign policy programme, and that was Ribbentrop's concept of a Euro-Asiatic bloc comprising the four totalitarian states of Germany, the Soviet Union, Italy and Japan. Unlike the other factions, Ribbentrop's foreign policy programme was the only one that Hitler allowed to be executed during the years 1939–41, though it was more due to the temporary bankruptcy of Hitler's own foreign policy programme that he had laid down in Mein Kampf
Mein Kampf
Mein Kampf is a book written by Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. It combines elements of autobiography with an exposition of Hitler's political ideology. Volume 1 of Mein Kampf was published in 1925 and Volume 2 in 1926...

 and Zweites Buch
Zweites Buch
The Zweites Buch is an unedited transcript of Adolf Hitler's thoughts on foreign policy written in 1928; it was written after Mein Kampf and was never published in his lifetime.-Composition:...

 following the failure to achieve an alliance with Britain, than to a genuine change of mind. Ribbentrop's foreign policy conceptions differed from Hitler's in that Ribbentrop's concept of international relations owed more to the traditional Wilhelmine Machtpolitik
Power politics
Power politics, or Machtpolitik , is a state of international relations in which sovereigns protect their own interests by threatening one another with military, economic, or political aggression...

 than to Hitler's racist and Social Darwinist vision of different "races" locked in a merciless and endless struggle over Lebensraum
Lebensraum
was one of the major political ideas of Adolf Hitler, and an important component of Nazi ideology. It served as the motivation for the expansionist policies of Nazi Germany, aiming to provide extra space for the growth of the German population, for a Greater Germany...

. The different foreign-policy conceptions held by Hitler and Ribbentrop were illustrated in their reaction to the Fall of Singapore
Battle of Singapore
The Battle of Singapore was fought in the South-East Asian theatre of the Second World War when the Empire of Japan invaded the Allied stronghold of Singapore. Singapore was the major British military base in Southeast Asia and nicknamed the "Gibraltar of the East"...

 in 1942: Ribbentrop wanted this great British defeat to be a day of celebration in Germany, whereas Hitler forbade any celebrations on the grounds that Singapore represented a sad day for the principles of white supremacy
White supremacy
White supremacy is the belief, and promotion of the belief, that white people are superior to people of other racial backgrounds. The term is sometimes used specifically to describe a political ideology that advocates the social and political dominance by whites.White supremacy, as with racial...

. Another area of difference was that Ribbentrop had an obsessive hatred for Britain – which he saw as the main enemy – and the Soviet Union as important ally in the anti-British struggle; whereas Hitler saw the alliance with the Soviet Union as only tactical, and was nowhere as anti-British as his Foreign Minister.

In August 1940, Ribbentrop oversaw the Second Vienna Award
Second Vienna Award
The Second Vienna Award was the second of two Vienna Awards arbitrated by the Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. Rendered on August 30, 1940, it re-assigned the territory of Northern Transylvania from Romania to Hungary.-Prelude and historical background :After the World War I, the multi-ethnic...

, which saw about 40% of Transylvania
Transylvania
Transylvania is a historical region in the central part of Romania. Bounded on the east and south by the Carpathian mountain range, historical Transylvania extended in the west to the Apuseni Mountains; however, the term sometimes encompasses not only Transylvania proper, but also the historical...

 region of Romania returned to Hungary. The decision to award so much of Romania to the Hungarians was Hitler's, as Ribbentrop himself spent most of the Vienna conference loudly attacking the Hungarian delegation for their coolness towards attacking Czechoslovakia in 1938 and then demanding more than their fair share of the spoils. When Ribbentrop finally got around to announcing his decision, the Hungarian delegation who had expected Ribbentrop to rule in favour of Romania broke out in cheers while the Romanian foreign minister Mihail Manoilescu
Mihail Manoilescu
Mihail Manoilescu was a Romanian journalist, engineer, economist, politician and memoirist, who served as Foreign Minister of Romania during the summer of 1940...

 fainted. Without perhaps realizing it, Ribbentrop by placing Romania within the German sphere of influence undermined the main rationale for co-operation with the Soviet Union, since control of Romanian oil meant that Germany was no longer dependent upon Soviet oil.

In the fall of 1940, Ribbentrop made a sustained but unsuccessful effort to have Spain enter the war on the Axis side. During his talks with the Spanish foreign minister, Ramón Serrano Súñer
Ramón Serrano Súñer
Ramón Serrano Súñer , was a Spanish politician during the first stages of General Francisco Franco's dictatorship, the Spanish State, between 1938 and 1942, when he held the posts of President of the Political Junta Política of Falange Española Tradicionalista y de las JONS , and Interior and...

, Ribbentrop affronted Súñer with his tactless behavior, especially his suggestion that Spain cede the Canary Islands
Canary Islands
The Canary Islands , also known as the Canaries , is a Spanish archipelago located just off the northwest coast of mainland Africa, 100 km west of the border between Morocco and the Western Sahara. The Canaries are a Spanish autonomous community and an outermost region of the European Union...

 to Germany. An angry Súñer replied that he would rather see the Canaries sink into the Atlantic then cede an inch of Spanish territory. Another area where Ribbentrop enjoyed more success occurred in September 1940, when he had the Far Eastern agent of the Dienststelle Ribbentrop, Dr. Heinrich Georg Stahmer
Heinrich Georg Stahmer
Heinrich Georg Stahmer , economist by training, served as an aide to German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop , special envoy to Japan and German Ambassador to Japan .A native of Hamburg, Germany, Stahmer fought during World War I and earned both classes of Iron...

, start negotiations with the Japanese foreign minister, Yōsuke Matsuoka
Yosuke Matsuoka
was a diplomat and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Empire of Japan during the early stages of World War II. He is best known for his defiant speech at the League of Nations in 1933, ending Japan’s participation in that organization...

, for an anti-American
Anti-Americanism
The term Anti-Americanism, or Anti-American Sentiment, refers to broad opposition or hostility to the people, policies, culture or government of the United States...

 alliance (the German Ambassador to Japan, General Eugen Ott, was excluded from the talks on Ribbentrop's orders). The end result of these talks was the signing in Berlin on 27 September 1940 of the Tripartite Pact
Tripartite Pact
The Tripartite Pact, also the Three-Power Pact, Axis Pact, Three-way Pact or Tripartite Treaty was a pact signed in Berlin, Germany on September 27, 1940, which established the Axis Powers of World War II...

 by Ribbentrop, Count Ciano, and the Japanese Ambassador Saburo Kurusu
Saburo Kurusu
was a Japanese career diplomat. He is remembered now as an envoy who tried to negotiate peace and understanding with the United States while Japan was secretly preparing the attack on Pearl Harbor....

. It was Ribbentrop's hope that the prospect of facing the Tripartite Pact would deter the United States from supporting Britain, but since the Pact was more or less openly directed against the United States (the Pact made a point of stressing that the unnamed great power it was directed against was not the Soviet Union), it had the opposite effect on American public opinion to the one intended.

In October 1940, Gauleiters Josef Bürckel and Robert Wagner oversaw the almost total explusion of the Jews into unoccupied France not only from the parts of Alsace-Lorraine that had been annexed that summer to the Reich, but also from their Gaues as while. Ribbentrop treated the ensuring complaints by the Vichy French government over the expulsions in a "most dilatory fashion".

In November 1940, during the visit of the Soviet Foreign Commissar Vyacheslav Molotov
Vyacheslav Molotov
Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov was a Soviet politician and diplomat, an Old Bolshevik and a leading figure in the Soviet government from the 1920s, when he rose to power as a protégé of Joseph Stalin, to 1957, when he was dismissed from the Presidium of the Central Committee by Nikita Khrushchev...

 to Berlin, Ribbentrop tried hard to get the Soviet Union to sign the Tripartite Pact
Tripartite Pact
The Tripartite Pact, also the Three-Power Pact, Axis Pact, Three-way Pact or Tripartite Treaty was a pact signed in Berlin, Germany on September 27, 1940, which established the Axis Powers of World War II...

. Ribbentrop argued that the Soviets and Germans shared a common enemy in the form of the British Empire, and as such, it was in the best interests of the Kremlin to enter the war on the Axis side. Ribbentrop presented a proposal to Molotov where after the defeat of Britain, the Soviet Union would have India and the Middle East, Italy the Mediterranean area, Japan the British possessions in the Far East (presuming of course that Japan would enter the war), and Germany would take Central Africa and Britain itself. Molotov was open to the idea of the Soviet Union entering the war on the Axis side, but demanded as the price of Soviet entry into the war that Finland, Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, Hungary and Yugoslavia be recognised as in the exclusive Soviet sphere of influence. Ribbentrop's efforts to persuade Molotov to abandon his demands about Europe as the price of Soviet entry into the war as a German ally were entirely unsuccessful. After Molotov left Berlin, the Soviet Union indicated that it wished to sign the Tripartite Pact and enter the war on the Axis side. Though Ribbentrop was all for taking Stalin's offer, Hitler by this point had decided that he wanted to attack the Soviet Union. The German–Soviet Axis talks
German–Soviet Axis talks
In October and November 1940, German–Soviet Axis talks occurred concerning the Soviet Union's potential entry as a fourth Axis Power. The negotiations included a two day Berlin conference between Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov, Adolf Hitler and German Foreign Minister Joachim von...

 led nowhere.

As World War II went on, Ribbentrop's once friendly relations with the SS became increasingly strained. In January 1941, the nadir of SS-Auswärtiges Amt relations was reached when the Iron Guard
Iron Guard
The Iron Guard is the name most commonly given to a far-right movement and political party in Romania in the period from 1927 into the early part of World War II. The Iron Guard was ultra-nationalist, fascist, anti-communist, and promoted the Orthodox Christian faith...

 attempted a coup
Legionnaires' Rebellion and Bucharest Pogrom
The Legionnaires' rebellion and the Bucharest pogrom occurred in Bucharest, Romania, between 21 and 23 January 1941.As the privileges of the Iron Guard were being cut off by Conducător Ion Antonescu, members of the Iron Guard, also known as the Legionnaires, revolted...

 in Romania, with Ribbentrop supporting the government of Marshal Ion Antonescu
Ion Antonescu
Ion Victor Antonescu was a Romanian soldier, authoritarian politician and convicted war criminal. The Prime Minister and Conducător during most of World War II, he presided over two successive wartime dictatorships...

 and Himmler supporting the Iron Guard. In the aftermath of the failed coup in Bucharest
Bucharest
Bucharest is the capital municipality, cultural, industrial, and financial centre of Romania. It is the largest city in Romania, located in the southeast of the country, at , and lies on the banks of the Dâmbovița River....

, the Auswärtiges Amt assembled evidence that the SD
Sicherheitsdienst
Sicherheitsdienst , full title Sicherheitsdienst des Reichsführers-SS, or SD, was the intelligence agency of the SS and the Nazi Party in Nazi Germany. The organization was the first Nazi Party intelligence organization to be established and was often considered a "sister organization" with the...

 had backed the coup, which led to Ribbentrop sharply restricting the powers of the SD police attachés, who since October 1939 had operated largely independently of the German embassies at which they had been stationed. In the spring of 1941, Ribbentrop appointed an assemblage of SA
Sturmabteilung
The Sturmabteilung functioned as a paramilitary organization of the National Socialist German Workers' Party . It played a key role in Adolf Hitler's rise to power in the 1920s and 1930s...

 men to German embassies in Eastern Europe, with Manfred von Killinger going to Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

, Siegfried Kasche
Siegfried Kasche
Siegfried Kasche was an SA Obergruppenführer and ambassador of the Third Reich to the allied Independent State of Croatia during the Second World War. He was tried for "complicity in deportations and murders" by a Yugoslav court and was executed in June 1947.Kasche was born in Strausberg in...

 to Croatia
Croatia
Croatia , officially the Republic of Croatia , is a unitary democratic parliamentary republic in Europe at the crossroads of the Mitteleuropa, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean. Its capital and largest city is Zagreb. The country is divided into 20 counties and the city of Zagreb. Croatia covers ...

, Adolf Beckerle to Bulgaria
Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

, Dietrich von Jagow to Hungary, and Hans Ludin
Hanns Ludin
Hanns Elard Ludin was a German diplomat.Born in Freiburg to Friedrich and Johanna Ludin, Ludin began his Nazi affiliation in 1930 by joining the party, and was arrested for his political activities the same year...

 to Slovakia
Slovakia
The Slovak Republic is a landlocked state in Central Europe. It has a population of over five million and an area of about . Slovakia is bordered by the Czech Republic and Austria to the west, Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east and Hungary to the south...

. The major qualifications of all these men, none of whom had previously held a diplomatic position before, were that they were close friends of Luther, and as a way of splitting the SS
Schutzstaffel
The Schutzstaffel |Sig runes]]) was a major paramilitary organization under Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. Built upon the Nazi ideology, the SS under Heinrich Himmler's command was responsible for many of the crimes against humanity during World War II...

 (the traditional rivalry between the SS and SA was still running strong).

In March 1941, Japan's Germanophile foreign minister Yōsuke Matsuoka
Yosuke Matsuoka
was a diplomat and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Empire of Japan during the early stages of World War II. He is best known for his defiant speech at the League of Nations in 1933, ending Japan’s participation in that organization...

 visited Berlin. On 29 March 1941, during a conversation with Matsuoka, Ribbentrop as instructed by Hitler told the Japanese nothing about the upcoming Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa was the code name for Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II that began on 22 June 1941. Over 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invaded the USSR along a front., the largest invasion in the history of warfare...

, as Hitler believed that he could defeat the Soviet Union on his own and preferred that the Japanese attack Britain instead. Hitler did not wish for any information that might lead the Japanese into attacking the Soviet Union to reach their ears. Ribbentrop tried to convince Matsuoka to urge the government in Tokyo to attack the great British naval base at Singapore
Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

, claiming the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 was too weak to retaliate due to its involvement in the Battle of the Atlantic. Matsuoka responded to this by stating preparations to occupy Singapore
Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

 were under way.
In the winter of 1940–41, Ribbentrop strongly pressured Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia refers to three political entities that existed successively on the western part of the Balkans during most of the 20th century....

 to sign the Tripartite Pact, despite advice from the German Legation in Belgrade
Belgrade
Belgrade is the capital and largest city of Serbia. It is located at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, where the Pannonian Plain meets the Balkans. According to official results of Census 2011, the city has a population of 1,639,121. It is one of the 15 largest cities in Europe...

 that such a move would probably lead to the overthrow of Crown Prince Paul
Prince Paul of Yugoslavia
Prince Paul of Yugoslavia, also known as Paul Karađorđević , was Regent of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia during the minority of King Peter II. Peter was the eldest son of his first cousin Alexander I...

, the Yugoslav Regent. Ribbentrop's intention with pressuring Yugoslavia into signing the Tripartite Pact was to gain transit rights through that country, which would allow the Germans to invade Greece. On 25 March 1941, Yugoslavia reluctantly signed the Tripartite Pact, which led to the overthrow of Prince Paul the next day in a bloodless coup by the Yugoslav military. When Hitler ordered Yugoslavia to be invaded, Ribbentrop was opposed, though only because the Auswärtiges Amt was likely to be excluded from ruling the occupied Yugoslavia. As Hitler was displeased with Ribbentrop over his opposition to attacking Yugoslavia, he then broke down and took to his bed for the next couple of days. When Ribbentrop recovered, he sought a chance for increasing Auswärtiges Amt influence by giving Croatia
Independent State of Croatia
The Independent State of Croatia was a World War II puppet state of Nazi Germany, established on a part of Axis-occupied Yugoslavia. The NDH was founded on 10 April 1941, after the invasion of Yugoslavia by the Axis powers. All of Bosnia and Herzegovina was annexed to NDH, together with some parts...

 independence. Ribbentrop chose the Ustaša to rule Croatia, and had Edmund Veesenmayer
Edmund Veesenmayer
Edmund Veesenmayer was a German politician, officer and war criminal. He significantly contributed to The Holocaust in Hungary and Croatia...

 of the Auswärtiges Amt successfully conclude talks in April 1941 with General Slavko Kvaternik
Slavko Kvaternik
Slavko Kvaternik was a Croatian military commander and a collaborator with Nazi Germany. He was noted for military service in World War I, later as a deputy leader and founding member of the Croatian Ustaša movement in the 1930s who then became one of the leaders of the "Independent State of...

 of the Ustaša on having his party rule Croatia after the German invasion. Reflecting his displeasure with the German Legation in Belgrade, which had advised against pressuring Yugoslavia into signing the Tripartite Pact, when the Bombing of Belgrade
Bombing of Belgrade in World War II
The city of Belgrade was bombed during two campaigns in World War II, the first undertaken by the Luftwaffe in 1941, and the latter by Allied air forces in 1944.- German bombing :...

 took place on 6 April 1941, Ribbentrop refused to have the staff of the German Legation withdrawn in advance, who were thus left to survive the fire-bombing of Belgrade as best they could.

Ribbentrop liked and admired Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

, and was against the attack on the USSR
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 in 1941. He passed a word to a Soviet diplomat: "Please tell Stalin I was against this war, and that I know it will bring great misfortune to Germany." In the spring of 1941, upon hearing of the coup in Baghdad that brought Rashid Ali al-Gaylani to power, Ribbentrop dispatched Dr. Fritz Grobba
Fritz Grobba
Fritz Konrad Ferdinand Grobba is best remembered for being a German diplomat during the interwar period and World War II.-Biography:...

 on a secret mission to Iraq to make contact with the new government. When Grobba reported that the Iraqis as Arab nationalists saw the British and the Jews as their enemies and wished to ally themselves with Germany against their common foes, Ribbentrop was delighted and become obsessed with the idea of an Iraqi-German alliance. In pursuit of his Iraq project, Ribbentrop strongly pushed for German aid
Fliegerführer Irak
Flyer Command Iraq was a unit of the German Air Force sent to Iraq in May 1941 as part of a German mission to support the regime of Rashid Ali during the Anglo-Iraqi War...

 to the Rashid Ali al-Gaylani government in Iraq
Kingdom of Iraq
The Kingdom of Iraq was the sovereign state of Iraq during and after the British Mandate of Mesopotamia. The League of Nations mandate started in 1920. The kingdom began in August 1921 with the coronation of Faisal bin al-Hussein bin Ali al-Hashemi as King Faisal I...

, where he saw a great opportunity for striking a blow at British influence in the Middle East. It was Ribbentrop's hope that a striking German success in Iraq might lead to Hitler abandoning his plans for Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa was the code name for Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II that began on 22 June 1941. Over 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invaded the USSR along a front., the largest invasion in the history of warfare...

, and focusing instead on the struggle with Britain. The abject failure of Ribbentrop's Iraq scheme in May 1941 had a totally opposite effect to the one intended. When it came to time for Ribbentrop to present the German declaration of war on 22 June 1941 to the Soviet Ambassador, General Vladimir Dekanozov
Vladimir Dekanozov
Vladimir Georgievich Dekanozov ) was a Soviet senior state security operative and diplomat.-Before Second World War:...

, Paul Schmidt
Paul Schmidt (translator)
Paul Schmidt was an American translator, poet, playwright, and essayist.He graduated from Colgate University in 1955, and studied at Harvard University.He studied mime with Marcel Marceau and acting with Jacques Charon....

 described the scene:
"It is just before four on the morning of Sunday, 22 June 1941 in the office of the Foreign Minister. He is expecting the Soviet Ambassador, Dekanozov, who had been phoning the Minister since early Saturday. Dekanozov had an urgent message from Moscow. He had called every two hours, but was told the Minister was away from the city. At two on Sunday morning, von Ribbentrop finally responded to the calls. Dekanozov was told that von Ribbentrop wished to meet with him at once. An appointment was made for 4 am

Von Ribbentrop is nervous, walking up and down from one end of his large office to the other, like a caged animal, while saying over and over, "The Führer is absolutely right. We must attack Russia, or they will surely attack us!" Is he reassuring himself? Is he justifying the ruination of his crowning diplomatic achievement? Now he has to destroy it "because that is the Führers wish".
When Dekanozov finally appeared, Ribbentrop read out a short statement saying that the Reich had been forced into "military countermeasures" because of an alleged Soviet plan to attack Germany in July 1941. Ribbentrop did not actually present a declaration of war to General Dekanozov, instead confining himself to reading out the statement about Germany being forced to take "military countermeasures".

Despite his opposition to Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa was the code name for Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II that began on 22 June 1941. Over 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invaded the USSR along a front., the largest invasion in the history of warfare...

 and a preference for focusing the war effort against Britain, on 28 June 1941, Ribbentrop began a sustained effort to have Japan attack the Soviet Union without bothering to inform Hitler at first However, Ribbentrop's motives in seeking to have Japan enter the war were more anti-British then anti-Soviet. On 10 July 1941 Ribbentrop ordered General Eugen Ott, the German Ambassador to Japan to:
"Go on with your efforts to bring about the earliest possible participation of Japan in the war against Russia...The natural goal must be, as before, to bring about the meeting of Germany and Japan on the Trans-Siberian Railroad before winter sets in. With the collapse of Russia, the position of the Tripartite Powers in the world will be so gigantic that the question of the collapse of England, that is, the absolute annihilation of the British Isles, will only be a question of time. An America completely isolated from the rest of the world would then be faced with the seizure of those of the remaining positions of the British Empire important to the Tripartite Powers".
As part of his efforts to bring Japan into Barbarossa, on 1 July 1941, Ribbentrop had Germany break off diplomatic relations with Chiang Kai-shek
Chiang Kai-shek
Chiang Kai-shek was a political and military leader of 20th century China. He is known as Jiǎng Jièshí or Jiǎng Zhōngzhèng in Mandarin....

 and instead recognized the Japanese puppet government of Wang Jingwei
Wang Jingwei
Wang Jingwei , alternate name Wang Zhaoming, was a Chinese politician. He was initially known as a member of the left wing of the Kuomintang , but later became increasingly anti-Communist after his efforts to collaborate with the CCP ended in political failure...

 as the legitimate government of China. In addition, Ribbentrop hoped that recognizing Wang would be seen as a coup which might add to the prestige of the pro-German Japanese Foreign Minister Yōsuke Matsuoka
Yosuke Matsuoka
was a diplomat and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Empire of Japan during the early stages of World War II. He is best known for his defiant speech at the League of Nations in 1933, ending Japan’s participation in that organization...

, who was opposed to opening American-Japanese talks. Despite Ribbentrop's best efforts, Matsuoka was sacked as Foreign Minister later in July 1941, and the Japanese-American talks began.

Ribbentrop was found to have had culpability in the Holocaust
The Holocaust
The Holocaust , also known as the Shoah , was the genocide of approximately six million European Jews and millions of others during World War II, a programme of systematic state-sponsored murder by Nazi...

 on the grounds that he persuaded the leaders of satellite countries of the Third Reich to deport Jews to the Nazi extermination camps. In August 1941, when the question of whether to deport foreign Jews living in Germany arose, Ribbentrop argued against deportation as a way of maximizing the influence of the Auswärtiges Amt. In order to deport foreign Jews living in the Reich, Ribbentrop then had Luther negotiate agreements with the governments of Romania, Slovakia and Croatia to allow Jews holding citizenship of those states to be deported. In September 1941, the Reich Plenipotentiary for Serbia
Serbia
Serbia , officially the Republic of Serbia , is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, covering the southern part of the Carpathian basin and the central part of the Balkans...

, Felix Benzler of Auswärtiges Amt, reported to Ribbentrop that the SS had arrested 8,000 Serbian Jews, whom they were planning to execute en masse, and asked for permission to try to stop the massacre. Ribbentrop assigned the question to Luther, who in turn ordered Benzler to co-operate fully in the massacre.

In October 1941, Ribbentrop’s prestige was badly damaged by the discovery of the Soviet spy ring in Tokyo headed by Richard Sorge
Richard Sorge
Richard Sorge was a German communist and spy who worked for the Soviet Union. He has gained great fame among espionage enthusiasts for his intelligence gathering during World War II. He worked as a journalist in both Germany and Japan, where he was imprisoned for spying and eventually hanged....

, who was arrested by the Japanese while in bed with the wife of General Eugen Ott, the German Ambassador. Sorge had been a close friend of General Ott, who had given him a free rein at the Tokyo Embassy, and thus allowed him to pass along all sorts of German secrets to Moscow. The resulting scandal was another blow to the Auswärtiges Amt, made all the more worse in that it was the Japanese who had discovered and broken up the Sorge spy ring without any assistance from the Germans.

In the fall of 1941, Ribbentrop worked for both the failure of the Japanese-American talks in Washington and Japan attacking the United States. In October 1941 Ribbentrop ordered General Ott to start applying pressure on the Japanese to attack the Americans as soon as possible. Ribbentrop argued to Hitler that a war between the United States and Germany was inevitable given the extent of American aid to Britain and the increasingly frequent "incidents" in the North Atlantic between U-boats and American warships guarding convoys to Britain, and that having such a war begin with a Japanese attack on the United States was the best way to begin it. Ribbentrop told Hitler that because of his four years in Canada and the United States before 1914, he was an expert on all things American, and that the United States in his opinion was not a serious military power. On 4 December 1941, the Japanese Ambassador General Hiroshi Ōshima
Hiroshi Ōshima
Baron was a general in the Imperial Japanese Army, Japanese ambassador to Nazi Germany before and during World War II — and unknowingly a major source of communications intelligence for the Allies. His role was perhaps best summed up by General George C...

 told Ribbentrop that Japan was on the verge of war with the United States, which led to Ribbentrop promising him on behalf of Hitler that Germany would join the war against the Americans. On 7 December 1941 Ribbentrop was jubilant at the news of Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor, known to Hawaiians as Puuloa, is a lagoon harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, west of Honolulu. Much of the harbor and surrounding lands is a United States Navy deep-water naval base. It is also the headquarters of the U.S. Pacific Fleet...

, and did his utmost to support declaring war on the United States, which was duly delivered on 11 December 1941. In the winter and spring of 1942 following American entry into war, all of the Latin American states except for Argentina and Chile under American pressure declared war on Germany. Ribbentrop who considered taking declarations of war from such small states as Costa Rica and Ecuador to be deeply humiliating refused to see any of the Latin American ambassadors and instead had Weizsäcker take the Latin declarations of war.

In April 1942, as part of a diplomatic counterpart to Case Blue Ribbentrop had assembled in Hotel Adlon
Hotel Adlon
Hotel Adlon is a hotel on Unter den Linden, the main boulevard in the Berlin city centre, directly opposite the Brandenburg Gate.-First Hotel Adlon 1907-1945:...

 in Berlin a collection of anti-Soviet émigrés from the Caucasus
Caucasus
The Caucasus, also Caucas or Caucasia , is a geopolitical region at the border of Europe and Asia, and situated between the Black and the Caspian sea...

 with the aim of having them declared leaders of governments in exile. From Ribbentrop's point of view, this had the dual benefit of ensuring popular support for the German Army as it advanced into the Caucasus and of ensuring that it was the Auswärtiges Amt that ruled the Caucasus once the Germans occupied the area. Alfred Rosenberg
Alfred Rosenberg
' was an early and intellectually influential member of the Nazi Party. Rosenberg was first introduced to Adolf Hitler by Dietrich Eckart; he later held several important posts in the Nazi government...

, the German Minister of the East, saw this as an intrusion into his area of authority, and told Hitler that the émigrés at the Hotel Adlon were "a nest of Allied agents". Much to Ribbentrop's intense disappointment, Hitler sided with Rosenberg. For Hitler, the Soviet Union was to be Germany's Lebensraum
Lebensraum
was one of the major political ideas of Adolf Hitler, and an important component of Nazi ideology. It served as the motivation for the expansionist policies of Nazi Germany, aiming to provide extra space for the growth of the German population, for a Greater Germany...

 and he had no interest in even setting up puppet governments in a region he planned to colonize.

Despite the often fierce rivalry with the SS, the Auswärtiges Amt played a key role in arranging the deportations of Jews to the death camps from France (1942–44), Hungary (1944–45), Slovakia, Italy (after 1943), and the Balkans
Balkans
The Balkans is a geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe...

. Ribbentrop assigned all of the Holocaust-related work to an old crony from the Dienststelle named Martin Luther
Martin Luther (diplomat)
Martin Franz Julius Luther was an early member of the Nazi Party. He served as an advisor to Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, first in the Dienststelle Ribbentrop , and later in the Auswärtiges Amt as a diplomat when von Ribbentrop replaced Konstantin von Neurath...

, who represented the Foreign Ministry at the Wannsee Conference
Wannsee Conference
The Wannsee Conference was a meeting of senior officials of the Nazi German regime, held in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee on 20 January 1942. The purpose of the conference was to inform administrative leaders of Departments responsible for various policies relating to Jews, that Reinhard Heydrich...

. In 1942, Ambassador Otto Abetz
Otto Abetz
Dr. Heinrich Otto Abetz was the German ambassador to Vichy France during World War II.-Early years:Abetz was born in Schwetzingen on May 26, 1903. He was the son of an estate manager, who died when Otto was only 13...

 secured the deportation of 25,000 French Jews, and Ambassador Hans Ludin
Hanns Ludin
Hanns Elard Ludin was a German diplomat.Born in Freiburg to Friedrich and Johanna Ludin, Ludin began his Nazi affiliation in 1930 by joining the party, and was arrested for his political activities the same year...

 secured the deportation of 50,000 Slovak Jews to the death camps. Only once, in August 1942, did Ribbentrop attempt to impede the deportations, but only because of jurisdictional disputes with the SS. Ribbentrop ordered the halt of deportations from Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

 and Croatia
Croatia
Croatia , officially the Republic of Croatia , is a unitary democratic parliamentary republic in Europe at the crossroads of the Mitteleuropa, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean. Its capital and largest city is Zagreb. The country is divided into 20 counties and the city of Zagreb. Croatia covers ...

: In the case of the former, he was insulted because the SS were negotiating with the Romanians directly, and in the case of the latter because the SS and Luther were jointly pressuring the Italians in their zone of occupation in Croatia to deport their Jews without informing Ribbentrop first, who was supposed to be personally kept abreast of all developments in Italo-German relations. In September 1942, after a meeting with Hitler, who was most unhappy with his Foreign Minister's actions, Ribbentrop promptly changed course and ordered that the deportations be resumed at once with all speed.

It should be noted that the professional diplomats were highly involved in the “Final Solution”, and not just Ribbentrop's cronies from the Dienststelle. Very typical of the involvement of the professional diplomats was the fiercely anti-Semitic Curt Prufer, who joined the Auswärtiges Amt in 1907, served as the German Ambassador to Brazil in 1938–1942, and then worked closely with the exiled Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husayni in recruiting Balkan Muslims to kill Jews in 1943. As an Orientalist who spoke fluent Arabic, Prufer was especially concerned with relations with the Arabs
Nazi relations with the Arab world
During the era of Nazi Germany , the relationship between the Nazi movement and leadership and the Arab world encompassed contempt, propaganda, collaboration and in some instances emulation.-Nazi perspective towards the Arabs:...

. Through Prufer loathed Ribbentrop, whom he viewed as an inept bully who was trashing his beloved Auswärtiges Amt, and the rest of the Nazis, Prufer's hatred for the Jews was even greater. After the war, Prufer rewrote his entire diaries in order to remake himself from an anti-Semitic German ultra-nationalist into an opponent of the Nazis who was utterly disgusted by Nazi anti-Semitism; his deception was not exposed until the 1980s by the American historian Donald McKale.

In November 1942, following Operation Torch
Operation Torch
Operation Torch was the British-American invasion of French North Africa in World War II during the North African Campaign, started on 8 November 1942....

, Ribbentrop was involved in a meeting with Pierre Laval
Pierre Laval
Pierre Laval was a French politician. He was four times President of the council of ministers of the Third Republic, twice consecutively. Following France's Armistice with Germany in 1940, he served twice in the Vichy Regime as head of government, signing orders permitting the deportation of...

 in Munich, where Laval was presented with an ultimatum for the German occupation of the unoccupied zone of France, plus Tunisia. At the same time, Ribbentrop attempted to unsuccessfully arrange for the Vichy French troops in North Africa to be formally placed under German command to resist the Allies. In December 1942, during a meeting with the Italian Foreign Minister Count Galeazzo Ciano
Galeazzo Ciano
Gian Galeazzo Ciano, 2nd Count of Cortellazzo and Buccari was an Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Benito Mussolini's son-in-law. In early 1944 Count Ciano was shot by firing squad at the behest of his father-in-law, Mussolini under pressure from Nazi Germany.-Early life:Ciano was born in...

, who brought a message from Mussolini asking for the Germans to go on the defensive in the Soviet Union in order to focus on North Africa, Ribbentrop joined with Hitler in belittling the Italian war effort. During the same meeting in East Prussia with Count Ciano, Pierre Laval
Pierre Laval
Pierre Laval was a French politician. He was four times President of the council of ministers of the Third Republic, twice consecutively. Following France's Armistice with Germany in 1940, he served twice in the Vichy Regime as head of government, signing orders permitting the deportation of...

 arrived and promptly agreed to Hitler's and Ribbentrop's demands that he place the French police under command of more radical anti-Semitics and conscript and send hundreds of thousands of French workers to Germany to work in the German war industry. Ciano was amazed at the way that Laval fell in with the German demands, and thought it all typical of Ribbentrop that he should remind Laval in a very tactless way how this forest had once served as Napoleon's headquarters.

Another low point in Ribbentrop's relations with the SS occurred in February 1943, when the SD backed an internal putsch attempt by Luther to oust Ribbentrop as Foreign Minister. Luther had become estranged from Ribbentrop because he continued to be treated as a household servant by Frau Ribbentrop, who, in turn, had pressured her husband into ordering an investigation into allegations of corruption on Luther's part. The putsch failed largely because at the last minute Himmler decided that a Foreign Ministry headed by Luther would be a more dangerous opponent than one by Ribbentrop, and so withdrew his support from Luther. In the aftermath of the failed putsch, Luther was sent to Sachsenhausen
Sachsenhausen concentration camp
Sachsenhausen or Sachsenhausen-Oranienburg was a Nazi concentration camp in Oranienburg, Germany, used primarily for political prisoners from 1936 to the end of the Third Reich in May, 1945. After World War II, when Oranienburg was in the Soviet Occupation Zone, the structure was used as an NKVD...

 concentration camp.

In April 1943, during a summit meeting with Admiral Horthy of Hungary, Ribbentrop strongly and unsuccessfully pressed the Hungarians to deport their Jewish population to the death camps. Ribbentrop's own views about the Holocaust were well summarized when during his meeting with Admiral Horthy, Ribbentrop declared "the Jews must either be exterminated or taken to the concentration camps. There is no other possibility". Later, when on trial for his life at Nuremberg, Ribbentrop claimed to have always been opposed to the "Final Solution" and to have done everything in his power to stop it.

Declining influence



As the war went on, Ribbentrop's influence declined. Since much of the world was at war with Germany, which was losing, the usefulness of the Foreign Ministry became increasingly limited. By January 1944, Germany maintained diplomatic relations only with Argentina, Ireland, Vichy France, the Salo Republic in Italy, Occupied Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Croatia, Bulgaria, Switzerland, the Holy See, Spain, Portugal, Turkey, Thailand, Japan, and the Japanese puppet states of Manchukuo and the Wang Jingwei regime in China. Of these, during the course of 1944 Argentina and Turkey both broke off diplomatic relations with Germany while Finland, Romania and Bulgaria all joined the Allies and declared war on the Reich.

Hitler, for his part, found Ribbentrop increasingly tiresome, and sought to avoid him. The Foreign Minister's ever more desperate pleas for Hitler to allow him to find some way of making peace with at least some of Germany's enemies – the Soviet Union in particular – certainly played a role in this estrangement. In September 1943, the German Embassy in Stockholm
Stockholm
Stockholm is the capital and the largest city of Sweden and constitutes the most populated urban area in Scandinavia. Stockholm is the most populous city in Sweden, with a population of 851,155 in the municipality , 1.37 million in the urban area , and around 2.1 million in the metropolitan area...

 came into contact with a NKVD
NKVD
The People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs was the public and secret police organization of the Soviet Union that directly executed the rule of power of the Soviets, including political repression, during the era of Joseph Stalin....

 agent who offered on behalf of the Soviet Union to start German-Soviet peace talks. Ribbentrop very much favoured taking up the Soviet peace feeler
Peace feeler
A peace feeler is, in diplomacy, a means of determining whether a warring party is prepared to end hostilities. William Safire defines it as "a diplomatic probe, real or imagined, to end hostilities."...

, only to be overruled by Hitler, who had no interest in the Soviet peace offer. As Ribbentrop's influence with Hitler went into a sharp decline after 1943, he increasingly spent his time feuding with other Nazi leaders over control of anti-Semitic policies as a way of trying to win back Hitler's favour. In late 1943, Ribbentrop sacked von Weizsäcker, with whom his relations had been declining for some time as State Secretary, and appointed as his replacement, Baron Gustav Adolf Steengracht von Moyland
Gustav Adolf Steengracht von Moyland
Gustav Adolf Baron Steengracht von Moyland was a German diplomat and politician of Dutch descent, who served as Nazi Germany's Secretary of State at the Foreign Office from 1943 to 1945.-Early life:...

, whose principal qualification was his status as "Ribbentrop's parrot". In November, the Vichy Chief of State Marshal Philippe Pétain
Philippe Pétain
Henri Philippe Benoni Omer Joseph Pétain , generally known as Philippe Pétain or Marshal Pétain , was a French general who reached the distinction of Marshal of France, and was later Chief of State of Vichy France , from 1940 to 1944...

 made a show of independence by calling for the French National Assembly which he had dismissed in July 1940 to reconvene in order to consider all of the important issues of the day. On 4 December 1943, Otto Abetz
Otto Abetz
Dr. Heinrich Otto Abetz was the German ambassador to Vichy France during World War II.-Early years:Abetz was born in Schwetzingen on May 26, 1903. He was the son of an estate manager, who died when Otto was only 13...

 handed Marshal Pétain a letter from Ribbentrop telling him that if Vichy France continued to show such independence, then the Germans would not bother with dealing with him anymore and would impose a Gauleiter to rule France like Poland. Pétain submitted to Ribbentrop's threat. Later in December 1943, Ribbentrop played a key role in having radical French fascists installed in key positions in the Vichy cabinet as a way of binding Vichy more closely to the Reich. Ribbentrop had Joseph Darnand
Joseph Darnand
Joseph Darnand was a French soldier and later a leader of the Vichy French collaborators with Nazi Germany....

 appointed as Interior Minister, Marcel Déat
Marcel Déat
Marcel Déat was a French Socialist until 1933, when he initiated a spin-off from the French Section of the Workers' International along with other right-wing 'Neosocialists'. He then founded the collaborationist National Popular Rally during the Vichy regime...

 as Labour Minister and Philippe Henriot
Philippe Henriot
Philippe Henriot was a French politician.Moving to the far right after beginnings in Roman Catholic conservatism in the Republican Federation, Henriot was elected to the Third Republic's Chamber of Deputies for the Gironde département in 1932 and 1936...

 as Information Minister. Following a new clash with Goebbels in December 1943 over control of propaganda abroad, Goebbels wrote in his diary:
"If Ribbentrop is as clever in his foreign policy as he is in matters of domestic politics, I can well understand why we achieve no notable success in our dealings with foreign nations”.
In January 1944, Ribbentrop strongly pressured Mussolini to execute Count Galeazzo Ciano
Galeazzo Ciano
Gian Galeazzo Ciano, 2nd Count of Cortellazzo and Buccari was an Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Benito Mussolini's son-in-law. In early 1944 Count Ciano was shot by firing squad at the behest of his father-in-law, Mussolini under pressure from Nazi Germany.-Early life:Ciano was born in...

, whom Ribbentrop had long hated, and whom he loathed even more after reading the disparaging remarks about himself in Ciano's diary. One of Ribbentrop's last significant acts in the field of foreign relations was his role in the Ryti-Ribbentrop Agreement
Ryti-Ribbentrop Agreement
The Ryti–Ribbentrop letter of agreement of June 26, 1944 was a personal letter from President Risto Ryti to Führer Adolf Hitler where Risto Ryti, then President of Finland, undertook not to reach a separate peace in the war with the Soviet Union without the approval from Nazi Germany to secure...

 with Finnish
Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

 President
President of Finland
The President of the Republic of Finland is the nation's head of state. Under the Finnish constitution, executive power is vested in the President and the government, with the President possessing extensive powers. The President is elected directly by the people of Finland for a term of six years....

 Risto Ryti
Risto Ryti
Risto Heikki Ryti was the fifth President of Finland, from 1940 to 1944. Ryti started his career as a politician in the field of economics and as a political background figure during the interwar period. He made a wide range of international contacts in the world of banking and within the...

.

In March 1944, upon learning of Hungarian attempts to make peace with the Allies, Hitler resolved to invade Hungary. The defection of Hungary from the Axis threatened to undermine the entire German war effort, as it was through Hungary that Romanian oil from the Ploieşti
Ploiesti
Ploiești is the county seat of Prahova County and lies in the historical region of Wallachia in Romania. The city is located north of Bucharest....

 oil-fields passed on its way to the Reich. Ribbentrop, who was opposed to Hitler's plans lest Germany lose another country to have diplomatic relations with, which would have lessened the importance of the Auswärtiges Amt even further, talked Hitler instead into giving the Hungarians an ultimatum. On 18 March 1944 Admiral Miklós Horthy
Miklós Horthy
Miklós Horthy de Nagybánya was the Regent of the Kingdom of Hungary during the interwar years and throughout most of World War II, serving from 1 March 1920 to 15 October 1944. Horthy was styled "His Serene Highness the Regent of the Kingdom of Hungary" .Admiral Horthy was an officer of the...

 who was informed while meeting Hitler and Ribbentrop at Schloss Klessheim
Schloss Klessheim
Schloss Klessheim is a Baroque palace situated west of Salzburg in the Austrian commune of Wals-Siezenheim. A former summer residence of the Archbishops of Salzburg, it is now used by Salzburg Casino.-History:...

 that he could either accept the German occupation of his country and the transformation of Hungary into a virtual German protectorate or see Hungary invaded and destroyed. Horthy chose the former course. Following the success of Operation Margarethe
Operation Margarethe
During World War II, the Germans planned two discrete operations using the codename Margarethe.Operation Margarethe I was the occupation of Hungary by German forces on 19 March 1944. The Hungarian government was an ally of Nazi Germany, but had been discussing an armistice with the Allies...

, with Hungary now to all intents and purposes a German protectorate, Ribbentrop instructed the new Reich Plenipotentiary for Hungary, Edmund Veesenmayer
Edmund Veesenmayer
Edmund Veesenmayer was a German politician, officer and war criminal. He significantly contributed to The Holocaust in Hungary and Croatia...

 to have the Hungarians begin the deportations of Hungarian Jews (who until now had been protected by their government) to the death camps.

In the spring of 1944, the German Reich Plenipotentiary for Hungary, Edmund Veesenmayer
Edmund Veesenmayer
Edmund Veesenmayer was a German politician, officer and war criminal. He significantly contributed to The Holocaust in Hungary and Croatia...

 (formally Ribbentrop's liaison man with the IRA
Irish Republican Army
The Irish Republican Army was an Irish republican revolutionary military organisation. It was descended from the Irish Volunteers, an organisation established on 25 November 1913 that staged the Easter Rising in April 1916...

) of the Auswärtiges Amt played a major role in helping to arrange the deportation of 400,000 Hungarian Jews to the death camps. Veesenmayer kept Ribbentrop fully informed about the Hungarian deportations, sending the Foreign Minister weekly reports about the deportations, and threatened the Hungarian Regent, Admiral Miklós Horthy
Miklós Horthy
Miklós Horthy de Nagybánya was the Regent of the Kingdom of Hungary during the interwar years and throughout most of World War II, serving from 1 March 1920 to 15 October 1944. Horthy was styled "His Serene Highness the Regent of the Kingdom of Hungary" .Admiral Horthy was an officer of the...

, when he ordered a halt to the deportations in July 1944. On 28 April 1944, Ribbentrop, who had finally won control of foreign propaganda, founded a new section at the Auswärtiges Amt called "Anti-Jewish Action Abroad" under Rudolf Schleier, which included Mohammad Amin al-Husayni
Mohammad Amin al-Husayni
Haj Mohammed Effendi Amin el-Husseini was a Palestinian Arab nationalist and Muslim leader in the British Mandate of Palestine. From as early as 1920, in order to secure the independence of Palestine as an Arab state he actively opposed Zionism, and was implicated as a leader of a violent riot...

 and Rashid Ali al-Gaylani as members, and was given the responsibility of conducting anti-Semitic propaganda abroad.

A major blow against Ribbentrop was the participation of many old diplomats from the Auswärtiges Amt in the 20 July 1944 putsch and assassination attempt on Hitler. Ribbentrop had no knowledge of the plot, but the involvement of so many former and serving members of the Foreign Ministry reflected badly on him. Hitler felt with some justification that Ribbentrop was not keeping proper tabs on what his diplomats were up to, because of his "bloated administration". After 20 July, Ribbentrop worked closely with the SS
Schutzstaffel
The Schutzstaffel |Sig runes]]) was a major paramilitary organization under Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. Built upon the Nazi ideology, the SS under Heinrich Himmler's command was responsible for many of the crimes against humanity during World War II...

, with whom by this time he was reconciled, in purging the Auswärtiges Amt of those suspected of involvement with the putsch. Two of the more notable diplomats to be executed after the July putsch were Count Friedrich Werner von der Schulenburg
Friedrich Werner von der Schulenburg
Friedrich-Werner Graf von der Schulenburg was a German diplomat who served as the last German ambassador to the Soviet Union before Operation Barbarossa. He began his diplomatic career before World War I, serving as consul and ambassador in several countries...

 and Ulrich von Hassell
Ulrich von Hassell
Ulrich von Hassell was a German diplomat during World War II. A member of the German Resistance against German dictator Adolf Hitler, Hassell was executed in the aftermath of the failed July 20 plot.- Family :...

. As part of the purge effort, and at the instigation of his wife, Ribbentrop had Lieny Behlau, the widow of Frau Ribbentrop's younger brother, sent to a concentration camp in August 1944 under the Sippenhaft
Sippenhaft
Sippenhaft or Sippenhaftung was a form of collective punishment practised in Nazi Germany towards the end of the Second World War. It was a legalized practice in which relatives of persons accused of crimes against the state were held to share the responsibility for those crimes and subject to...

 law, and the custody of her two children assigned to him and his wife, which had the benefit of making the Ribbentrops the legal guardians of Behlau's share of the Henkell family fortune. Ribbentrop worked in close co-operation with the SS for what turned out to be his last significant foreign policy move, Operation Panzerfaust
Operation Panzerfaust
Operation Panzerfaust, known as Unternehmen Eisenfaust in Germany, was a military operation to keep the Kingdom of Hungary at Germany's side in the war, conducted in October 1944 by the German military...

, the coup that deposed Admiral Miklós Horthy
Miklós Horthy
Miklós Horthy de Nagybánya was the Regent of the Kingdom of Hungary during the interwar years and throughout most of World War II, serving from 1 March 1920 to 15 October 1944. Horthy was styled "His Serene Highness the Regent of the Kingdom of Hungary" .Admiral Horthy was an officer of the...

, the Regent of Hungary, on 15 October 1944. Horthy was deposed because he attempted to seek a separate peace with the Allies, and was replaced by Ferenc Szálasi
Ferenc Szálasi
Ferenc Szálasi was the leader of the National Socialist Arrow Cross Party – Hungarist Movement, the "Leader of the Nation" , being both Head of State and Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Hungary's "Government of National Unity" for the final three months of Hungary's participation in World War II...

, who resumed the deportation of Hungarian Jews in co-operation with the SS and the Auswärtiges Amt that Horthy had halted in July 1944.

On 20 April 1945, Ribbentrop attended Hitler's 56th birthday party in Berlin. This was one of the last times he saw Hitler. On 23 April 1945, Ribbentrop attempted to have a meeting with Hitler, only to be told to go away, as Hitler had more important things to do than talk to him. This was his last meeting with Hitler.

On 14 June 1945, Ribbentrop was arrested by Sergeant Jacques Goffinet, a French citizen who had joined the Belgian SAS and was working with British forces near Hamburg. Found with him was a rambling letter addressed to the British Prime Minister "Vincent Churchill"
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

 criticizing British foreign policy for anti-German
Anti-German sentiment
Anti-German sentiment is defined as an opposition to or fear of Germany, its inhabitants, and the German language. Its opposite is Germanophilia.-Russia:...

 bias
Bias
Bias is an inclination to present or hold a partial perspective at the expense of alternatives. Bias can come in many forms.-In judgement and decision making:...

, blaming the British for the Soviet occupation of the eastern half of Germany, and thus for the advance of "Bolshevism" into central Europe. The fact that Ribbentrop even in 1945 did not recall that Churchill's first name was "Winston" reflected either his general ignorance about the world outside of Germany, or else a distracted state of mind at the time of writing the letter.

Trial and execution




Ribbentrop was a defendant at the Nuremberg Trials
Nuremberg Trials
The Nuremberg Trials were a series of military tribunals, held by the victorious Allied forces of World War II, most notable for the prosecution of prominent members of the political, military, and economic leadership of the defeated Nazi Germany....

, charged with crimes against peace, deliberately planning a war of aggression, war crimes and crimes against humanity
Crime against humanity
Crimes against humanity, as defined by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Explanatory Memorandum, "are particularly odious offenses in that they constitute a serious attack on human dignity or grave humiliation or a degradation of one or more human beings...

. Prosecutors presented evidence that Ribbentrop was actively involved in the planning of German aggression and the deportation of Jews to death camps, as well as his advocacy of the killing of American and British airmen shot down over Germany. The latter two charges carried the penalty of death by hanging.

The Allies' International Military Tribunal found him guilty of all charges brought against him. Even in prison, Ribbentrop remained loyal to Hitler, stating "Even with all I know, if in this cell Hitler should come to me and say 'Do this!', I would still do it."

During the trial, Ribbentrop rather unsuccessfully attempted to deny his role in the war. For example, during his cross-examination, the prosecution brought up claims that he (along with Hitler and Göring) threatened the Czechoslovak
Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia or Czecho-Slovakia was a sovereign state in Central Europe which existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until 1992...

 President Emil Hácha
Emil Hácha
Emil Hácha was a Czech lawyer, the third President of Czecho-Slovakia from 1938 to 1939. From March 1939, he presided under the German Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.-Judicial career:...

 in March 1939, with a "threat of aggressive action". The questioning resulted in the following exchange between the British Prosecutor Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe
David Maxwell Fyfe, 1st Earl of Kilmuir
David Patrick Maxwell Fyfe, 1st Earl of Kilmuir GCVO, PC, KC, , known as Sir David Maxwell Fyfe from 1942 to 1954 and as The Viscount Kilmuir from 1954 to 1962, was a British Conservative politician, lawyer and judge who combined an industrious and precocious legal career with political ambitions...

 and Ribbentrop:
Maxwell-Fyfe: What further pressure could you put on the head of a country beyond threatening him that your Army would march in, in overwhelming strength, and your air force would bomb his capital?

Ribbentrop: War, for instance.


During the trial, Gustave Gilbert
Gustave Gilbert
Gustave Mark Gilbert was an American psychologist best known for his writings containing observations of high ranking Nazi leaders during the Nuremberg Trials. His Psychology of Dictatorship was an attempt to profile Adolf Hitler using as reference the testimonials of Hitler’s closest generals and...

, an American Army psychologist, was allowed to examine the Nazi leaders who were tried at Nuremberg for war crimes. Among other tests, a German version of the Wechsler-Bellevue IQ test
Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale
The Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale intelligence quotient tests are the primary clinical instruments used to measure adult and adolescent intelligence. The original WAIS was published in February 1955 by David Wechsler, as a revision of the Wechsler-Bellevue Intelligence Scale...

 was administered. Joachim von Ribbentrop scored 129, the 10th highest among the Nazi leaders tested.

At one point during the trial proceedings, U.S. Army interpreter for the prosecution Richard Sonnenfeldt
Richard Sonnenfeldt
Richard W. Sonnenfeldt - was a Jewish-American engineer and corporate executive most notable for being the U.S...

 asked Baron
Baron
Baron is a title of nobility. The word baron comes from Old French baron, itself from Old High German and Latin baro meaning " man, warrior"; it merged with cognate Old English beorn meaning "nobleman"...

 Ernst von Weizsäcker
Ernst von Weizsäcker
Ernst Freiherr von Weizsäcker was a German diplomat and politician. He served as State Secretary at the Foreign Office from 1938 to 1943, and as German Ambassador to the Holy See from 1943 to 1945...

, Ribbentrop's State Secretary, how Hitler could have made him a high official. Weizsäcker responded "Hitler never noticed Ribbentrop's babbling because Hitler always did all the talking."

Since Göring had committed suicide a few hours prior to the time of execution, Ribbentrop was the first politician to be hanged
Hanging
Hanging is the lethal suspension of a person by a ligature. The Oxford English Dictionary states that hanging in this sense is "specifically to put to death by suspension by the neck", though it formerly also referred to crucifixion and death by impalement in which the body would remain...

 on the morning of 16 October 1946. After being escorted up the 13 steps to the waiting noose, Ribbentrop was asked if he had any final words. He calmly said: "God protect Germany. God have mercy on my soul. My final wish is that Germany should recover her unity and that, for the sake of peace, there should be understanding between East and West." As the hood was placed over his head, Ribbentrop added: "I wish peace to the world." After a slight pause the executioner pulled the lever, releasing the trap door Ribbentrop stood upon. Although his neck snapped, he hung for seventeen minutes before the doctor declared him dead.

Historian Giles MacDonogh
Giles MacDonogh
Giles MacDonogh is a British writer, historian and translator.He has worked as a journalist most notably for the Financial Times , where he covered food, drink and a variety of other subjects. He has also contributed to most of the other important British newspapers, and is a regular contributor...

 records a very different result: "The hangman botched the execution and the rope throttled the former foreign minister for twenty minutes before he expired."

In 1953 Ribbentrop's memoirs, Zwischen London und Moskau (Between London and Moscow), were published.

Portrayal in popular culture


Joachim von Ribbentrop has been portrayed by the following actors in film, television and theater productions;
  • Henry Daniell
    Henry Daniell
    Henry Daniell was an English actor, best known for his villainous movie roles, but who had a long and prestigious career on stage as well as in films....

     in the 1943 United States propaganda film Mission to Moscow
    Mission to Moscow
    Mission to Moscow is a book by the former U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union Joseph E. Davies published by Simon and Schuster in 1941. It was adapted into a film directed by Michael Curtiz in 1943....

  • Graham Chapman
    Graham Chapman
    Graham Arthur Chapman was a British comedian, physician, writer, actor, and one of the six members of the Monty Python comedy troupe.-Early life and education:...

     (as "Ron Vibbentrop") in the 1970 British television comedy Monty Python's Flying Circus
    Monty Python's Flying Circus
    Monty Python’s Flying Circus is a BBC TV sketch comedy series. The shows were composed of surreality, risqué or innuendo-laden humour, sight gags and observational sketches without punchlines...

    : The Naked Ant
  • Henryk Borowski
    Henryk Borowski
    Henryk Borowski was a Polish theater, radio and film actor.- Filmography :* 1954: Domek z kart – as editor* 1959: Kamienne niebo – as professor* 1960: Krzyżacy – as Zygfryd de Löwe...

     in the 1971 Polish film Epilogue at Nürnberg
  • Miodrag Radovanovic in the 1971 Yugoslavian television production Nirnberski epilog
  • Geoffrey Toone
    Geoffrey Toone
    Geoffrey Toone was an Irish-born character actor.Most of Toone's film roles after the 1930s were in supporting parts, usually as authority figures, though he did play the lead character in the Hammer Films production The Terror of the Tongs in 1961Toone was born in Dublin, Ireland to English...

     in the 1973 British television production The Death of Adolf Hitler
    The Death of Adolf Hitler
    The Death of Adolf Hitler was a 1973 British television film starring Frank Finlay as Adolf Hitler and Caroline Mortimer as Eva Braun. The film details the last 10 days of Hitler's life as World War II comes to an end and Allied troops are closing in on the Führerbunker. Michael Sheard and Tony...

  • Robert Hardy
    Robert Hardy
    Timothy Sydney Robert Hardy, CBE, FSA is an English actor with a long career in the theatre, film and television. He is also an acknowledged expert on the longbow.-Early life:...

     in the 1974 television production The Gathering Storm
    The Gathering Storm (1974 film)
    The Gathering Storm is a 1974 American television biopic film, about Winston Churchill's life in the years just prior to, and at the start of, World War II, from 1936 to 1940....

  • Kosti Klemelä in the 1978 Finnish television production Sodan ja rauhan miehet
  • Demeter Bitenc
    Demeter Bitenc
    Demeter Bitenc is a Slovenian film actor. He has appeared in 75 films since 1953. He was born in Ljubljana, Slovenia.-Selected filmography:* Target for Killing * Private Vices, Public Pleasures...

     in the 1979 Yugoslavian television production Slom
  • Anton Diffring
    Anton Diffring
    Anton Diffring , born Alfred Pollack, was a German actor.-Biography:Diffring was born in Koblenz...

     in the 1983 United States television production The Winds of War
    The Winds of War
    The Winds of War is Herman Wouk's second book about World War II, the first being The Caine Mutiny . Published in 1971, it was followed up seven years later by War and Remembrance; originally conceived as one volume, Wouk decided to break it in two when he realized it took nearly 1000 pages just to...

  • Hans-Dieter Asner in the 1985 television production Mussolini and I
    Mussolini and I
    Mussolini and I is a 4 hour docu-drama that was made for television. It originally aired on HBO in September 1985. It is about Italy's fascist regime leader Benito Mussolini. The film starts just before World War II and shows the political and personal side of Benito Mussolini aka Il Duce's fall...

  • Richard Kane
    Richard Kane
    Brigadier General Richard Kane was a British Army General.-Origins:Born to Thomas O'Cahan and his wife, Margaret Dobbin, at his mother's home in Duneane, County Antrim, Ireland, in December 1662...

     in the 1985 US/Yugoslavian television production Mussolini: The Untold Story
    Mussolini: The Untold Story
    Mussolini: The Untold Story follows the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini . The series begins in 1922 as Mussolini gathers his power through the use of his Black Shirt militia. Promoting himself as Caesar reincarnate, Il Duce gains a national fervor that peaks after the Italian invasion of...

  • John Woodvine
    John Woodvine
    John Woodvine is an English stage and screen actor who has appeared in more than 70 theatre productions, as well as a similar number of television and film roles.-Early life:...

     in the 1989 British television production Countdown to War
  • Wolf Kahler
    Wolf Kahler
    Wolf Kahler is a German actor.Born in Kiel, since 1975 he has appeared in many US and UK television and film productions. Due to his height - he is 6 feet 2 inches tall - sharp features, blond hair and blue eyes he is often cast in roles as Nazis or other unsympathetic German characters...

     in the 1993 Merchant-Ivory
    Merchant Ivory Productions
    Merchant Ivory Productions is a film company founded in 1961 by producer Ismail Merchant and director James Ivory. Their films were for the most part produced by the former, directed by the latter, and scripted by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, with the noted exception of a few films. The films were often...

     film The Remains of the Day
    The Remains of the Day (film)
    The Remains of the Day is a 1993 Merchant Ivory film adapted by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala from the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro. It was directed by James Ivory and produced by Ismail Merchant, Mike Nichols and John Calley. It starred Anthony Hopkins as Stevens and Emma Thompson as Miss Kenton with James Fox,...

  • Benoît Girard in the 2000 Canadian/U.S. TV production Nuremberg
    Nuremberg
    Nuremberg[p] is a city in the German state of Bavaria, in the administrative region of Middle Franconia. Situated on the Pegnitz river and the Rhine–Main–Danube Canal, it is located about north of Munich and is Franconia's largest city. The population is 505,664...

  • Ivaylo Geraskov in the 2006 British television docudrama Nuremberg: Nazis on Trial
    Nuremberg: Nazis on Trial
    Nuremberg: Nazis on Trial, is a BBC documentary film series consisting of three one-hour films that re-enact the Nuremberg War Trials of Albert Speer, Hermann Göring and Rudolf Hess...

  • Edward Baker-Duly
    Edward Baker-Duly
    -Biography:He was born in Sweden but moved to South Africa where he acted in television and theatre, later moving to the United Kingdom to work.His television work includes playing no-nonsense sports master Chris Malachay in the long-running BBC school drama, Grange Hill, from 2003-2006...

     in the 2010 BBC Wales/Masterpiece TV production Upstairs, Downstairs
    Upstairs, Downstairs
    Upstairs, Downstairs is a British drama television series originally produced by London Weekend Television and revived by the BBC. It ran on ITV in 68 episodes divided into five series from 1971 to 1975, and a sixth series shown on the BBC on three consecutive nights, 26–28 December 2010.Set in a...


Ribbentrop is also a key figure in the historical novel Famous Last Words
Famous Last Words (novel)
Famous Last Words is a 1981 novel by Canadian author Timothy Findley, in which Hugh Selwyn Mauberley is the main character....

 by Timothy Findley
Timothy Findley
Timothy Irving Frederick Findley, OC, O.Ont was a Canadian novelist and playwright. He was also informally known by the nickname Tiff or Tiffy, an acronym of his initials.-Biography:...

 (Penguin Books 1982, ISBN 0-14-006268-8) and Harry Turtledove
Harry Turtledove
Harry Norman Turtledove is an American novelist, who has produced works in several genres including alternate history, historical fiction, fantasy and science fiction.- Life :...

's alternate history
Alternate history (fiction)
Alternate history or alternative history is a genre of fiction consisting of stories that are set in worlds in which history has diverged from the actual history of the world. It can be variously seen as a sub-genre of literary fiction, science fiction, and historical fiction; different alternate...

 series Worldwar
Worldwar
Worldwar is a series of novels by Harry Turtledove whose premise is an alien invasion of Earth in the middle of World War II. The military invasion begins on or around May 30, 1942, but the aliens, who call themselves the Race, reached Earth orbit in December 1941...

 where his Soviet counterpart Molotov
Vyacheslav Molotov
Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov was a Soviet politician and diplomat, an Old Bolshevik and a leading figure in the Soviet government from the 1920s, when he rose to power as a protégé of Joseph Stalin, to 1957, when he was dismissed from the Presidium of the Central Committee by Nikita Khrushchev...

 frequently expresses contempt for his lack of intelligence.

Ribbentrop appears in Kazuo Ishiguro
Kazuo Ishiguro
Kazuo Ishiguro OBE or ; born 8 November 1954) is a Japanese–English novelist. He was born in Nagasaki, Japan, and his family moved to England in 1960. Ishiguro obtained his Bachelor's degree from University of Kent in 1978 and his Master's from the University of East Anglia's creative writing...

's 1989 novel The Remains of the Day
The Remains of the Day
The Remains of the Day is Kazuo Ishiguro's third published novel. One of the most highly-regarded post-war British novels, the work was awarded the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in 1989...

 (ISBN 0-679-73172-5) in which he is a frequent guest at Darlington Hall.

Ribbentrop is also mentioned in the movie, The King's Speech, for sending the future British king's fiancée 17 carnations a day.

See also


  • Glossary of Nazi Germany
  • List of Nazi Party leaders and officials
  • Otto Abetz
    Otto Abetz
    Dr. Heinrich Otto Abetz was the German ambassador to Vichy France during World War II.-Early years:Abetz was born in Schwetzingen on May 26, 1903. He was the son of an estate manager, who died when Otto was only 13...

    : German Ambassador to Vichy France (1940–1944)
  • Diego von Bergen
    Diego von Bergen
    Dr. Carl-Ludwig Diego von Bergen was the ambassador to the Holy See from the Kingdom of Prussia , the Weimar Republic , and Nazi Germany , most notably during the negotiation of the Reichskonkordat and during World War II.From 1930 to 1943, by virtue of seniority, von Bergen was also the doyen of...

    : German Ambassador to the Vatican (1915–1918, 1920–1943)
  • Rudolf Buttmann
    Rudolf Buttmann
    Rudolf Buttmann was a German politician and diplomat. He was a department minister in the Reich Ministry of the Interior at the time of the signing of the Reichskonkordat....

    : German Ambassador to the Vatican (1920–1943)
  • Hans-Heinrich Dieckhoff
    Hans-Heinrich Dieckhoff
    Hans-Heinrich Dieckhoff was a German diplomat best known for his service to the Nazi regime.Dieckhoff was born in Strasbourg, Alsace-Lorraine. From 1937 to November 1938 he served as German ambassador to the United States, until recalled in response to the American recall of its ambassador in...

    : German Ambassador to the United States of America (1937–1938) and Spain (1943–1945)
  • Herbert von Dirksen
    Herbert von Dirksen
    Herbert von Dirksen was a German diplomat who is best remembered as the last German Ambassador to Britain before World War II.- Biography :...

    : German Ambassador to the Soviet Union (1928–1933), Japan (1933–1938), and the United Kingdom (1938–1939)
  • Fritz Grobba
    Fritz Grobba
    Fritz Konrad Ferdinand Grobba is best remembered for being a German diplomat during the interwar period and World War II.-Biography:...

    : German Ambassador to Iraq (1932–1939, 1941) and Saudi Arabia (1938–1939)
  • Ulrich von Hassell
    Ulrich von Hassell
    Ulrich von Hassell was a German diplomat during World War II. A member of the German Resistance against German dictator Adolf Hitler, Hassell was executed in the aftermath of the failed July 20 plot.- Family :...

    : German Ambassador to Italy (1932–1938)
  • Eduard Hempel
    Eduard Hempel
    Eduard Hempel was the Nazi German Minister to Ireland between 1937 and 1945 — in the build up to and during The Emergency...

    : German Ambassador to Ireland (1937–1945)
  • Walther Hewel
    Walther Hewel
    Walther Hewel was a German diplomat before and during World War II, an early and active member of the Nazi Party, and one of German dictator Adolf Hitler's few personal friends.-Early life:...

    : German diplomat
  • Leopold von Hoesch
    Leopold von Hoesch
    Leopold von Hoesch was a career German diplomat. Hoesch began his political career in France as the chargé d'affaires in 1923. Following the recall of the German Ambassador in 1923 after the Ruhr crisis, Hoesch was appointed acting head of the German Embassy in Paris. While in Paris, Hoesch...

    : German Ambassador to France (1923–1932) and the United Kingdom (1932–1936)
  • Manfred Freiherr von Killinger
    Manfred Freiherr von Killinger
    Manfred Freiherr von Killinger was a German naval officer, Freikorps leader, military writer and Nazi politician. A veteran of World War I and member of the Marinebrigade Ehrhardt during the German Revolution, he took part in the violent intervention against the Bavarian Soviet Republic...

    : German Ambassador to the Slovak Republic (1940) and Romania (1940–1944)
  • Hans Luther
    Hans Luther
    Hans Luther was a German politician and Chancellor of Germany.-Biography:Born in Berlin, Luther started in politics in 1907 by becoming the town councillor in Magdeburg. He continued on becoming secretary of the German Städtetag in 1913 and then mayor of Essen in 1918...

    : German Ambassador to the United States of America (1933–1937)
  • Eugen Ott: German Ambassador to Japan (1938–1942)
  • Franz von Papen
    Franz von Papen
    Lieutenant-Colonel Franz Joseph Hermann Michael Maria von Papen zu Köningen was a German nobleman, Roman Catholic monarchist politician, General Staff officer, and diplomat, who served as Chancellor of Germany in 1932 and as Vice-Chancellor under Adolf Hitler in 1933–1934...

    : German Ambassador to Austria (1934–1938) and Turkey (1939–1944)
  • Cecil von Renthe-Fink
    Cecil von Renthe-Fink
    Cecil von Renthe-Fink was a German diplomat. He was plenipotentiary of Denmark from April 9, 1940 until 1942.He was appointed ambassador to Denmark in 1936. In 1939 he became a member of the Nazi party. After the occupation of Denmark he became plenipotentiary. In 1942 he was replaced by Dr....

    : German Ambassador to Denmark (1940–1942)
  • Friedrich Werner von der Schulenburg
    Friedrich Werner von der Schulenburg
    Friedrich-Werner Graf von der Schulenburg was a German diplomat who served as the last German ambassador to the Soviet Union before Operation Barbarossa. He began his diplomatic career before World War I, serving as consul and ambassador in several countries...

    : German Ambassador to the Soviet Union (1934–1941)
  • Heinrich Georg Stahmer
    Heinrich Georg Stahmer
    Heinrich Georg Stahmer , economist by training, served as an aide to German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop , special envoy to Japan and German Ambassador to Japan .A native of Hamburg, Germany, Stahmer fought during World War I and earned both classes of Iron...

    : German Ambassador to Japan (1942–1945)
  • Hans Thomsen: German Ambassador to the United States of America
  • Ernst von Weizsäcker
    Ernst von Weizsäcker
    Ernst Freiherr von Weizsäcker was a German diplomat and politician. He served as State Secretary at the Foreign Office from 1938 to 1943, and as German Ambassador to the Holy See from 1943 to 1945...

    : German Ambassador to the Vatican (1943–1945)


External links