Joachim von Ribbentrop was German foreign minister 1938–45.
He was born in Wesel on April 30, 1893, and educated in Metz and later in Grenoble, France. He traveled in Europe and North America while in his teens. In World War I he fought on the Eastern front.
After meeting Adolf Hitler in the early 1930s, Ribbentrop joined the Nazi party. When the Nazis came to power in 1933 he became Hitler's personal adviser on foreign affairs. In his capacity as ambassador at large he negotiated the 1935 Anglo-German naval agreement, and the 1936 Anti-Comintern pact with Japan, aimed at the Soviet Union. As ambassador to Britain from 1936 to 1938 he assured Hitler that the British would not offer any effective resistance to a German attack on Poland.
In February 1938, Ribbentrop became foreign minister. After taking part in negotiations leading to the Munich pact of September 1938, which sealed the fate of Czechoslovakia, he negotiated the May 1939 pact that linked Germany and Italy in an alliance.
His most significant act was the conclusion of the Ribbentrop-Molotov nonaggression treaty in August 1939 that temporarily neutralized the Soviet Union, enabling Germany to invade Poland the following month.
Later Ribbentrop made jokes about how he could paper his house wall to wall with all the treaties he signed and broke ...
In September 1940, he secured the tripartite Axis agreement with Italy and Japan. During the war his influence declined, although he remained foreign minister until Hitler's death in April 1945.
Captured by British forces and convicted of War Crimes, he was hanged in Nuremberg on Oct. 16, 1946.