Joachim von Ribbentrop

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Joachim von Ribbentrop (1893-1946) was Foreign Minister of Germany during the Second World War and was hanged on 16 October 1946 after being convicted of war crimes by the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal.

Ribbentrop (who only adopted the aristocratic 'von' prefix to his surname in 1925) was born in Wesel, Prussia, and educated at a number of private schools in Germany and Switzerland before working for engineering companies and as a journalist in the United States and Canada. He escaped Canada just before the outbreak of the First World War and served as an officer on the eastern and western fronts, being awarded the Iron Cross. Following the war he worked for a champagne company, and only joined the Nazi Party in 1932, apparently for careerist rather than ideological reasons, though once a member he adopted extreme views (even by Nazi standards) and an outspoken Anti-Semitism which he had never previously voiced. From 1936 to 1938 Ribbentrop was German ambassador to the United Kingdom, and from 1938 to 1945 was German Foreign Minister. In this role, he was partly responsible for the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of 1939, which led to the partition of Poland between Germany and the USSR.