Joachim von Ribbentrop

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Ulrich Friedrich Wilhelm Joachim von Ribbentrop (30 April 1893 – 16 October 1946) was Foreign Minister of Germany from 1938 until 1945. He was later hanged for war crimes after the Nuremberg Trials.


Early life

Joachim von Ribbentrop was born in Wesel, Rhenish Prussia, the son of Richard Ulrich Friedrich Joachim Ribbentrop, a career army officer, and his wife Johanne Sophie Hertwig.[1] Ribbentrop was educated irregularly at private schools in Germany and Switzerland.[2] From 1904 to 1908, Ribbentrop took courses in French in a school at Metz,[3] the most powerful fortress of the German Empire.[4] One of his teachers at Metz later recalled that Ribbentrop "was the most stupid in his class, full of vanity and very pushy".[5] His father was cashiered from the Imperial German Army in 1908, following a series of disparaging remarks he had made about the homosexuality of Kaiser Wilhelm II, and the Ribbentrop family were often short of money.[6] Fluent in both French and English, young Ribbentrop lived at various times in Grenoble, France, and London, before traveling to Canada in 1910.[7] Initially, Ribbentrop planned to emigrate to the colony of German East Africa, where he had hopes of being a planter.[7] 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.[7] 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.[7] He worked for the Molsons Bank on Stanley Street in Montreal and then for the engineering firm M.P. and J.T. Davis on the reconstruction of the Quebec Bridge. He was also employed by the National Transcontinental Railway, which constructed a line from Moncton to Winnipeg. He worked as a journalist in New York City and Boston and then rested to recover from tuberculosis in Germany.[8] He returned to Canada and set up a small business in Ottawa importing German wine and champagne.[9] In 1914, he competed for Ottawa's famous Minto ice-skating team, participating in the Ellis Memorial Trophy tournament in Boston in February.[9][10]

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