RIBBENTROP, JOACHIM VON° (1893–1946), German Nazi leader and foreign minister (from 1938). First introduced to Hitler in 1932, Ribbentrop soon became a foreign policy advisor and was appointed ambassador to England in 1936. He returned in February 1938 to become foreign minister. He reached the height of his career by negotiating the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact with his Soviet counterpart that divided Poland, with Germany invading from the west and the Soviet Union from the east, into three zones, territory annexed by Germany, territory occupied by Germany, and territory occupied by the Soviet Union. Given his previous service, Ribbentrop initially favored a pro-British foreign policy and later sought to maintain the Soviet-German alliance until the invasion. Vain and incompetent, Ribbentrop was useful even if not a fanatical antisemite. His power diminished as Germany took less interest in foreign policy and resorted to war. In late 1942 he perceived the depth of Hitler's commitment to the Final Solution and became devoted to its execution. He pressed this policy, most especially for Hungary. For this the ministry had a special section in Germany (later Deutschland III) dealing with Jewish questions in German satellites. At the head of the department stood Franz *Rademacher (until 1943) and afterward Eberhard von Thadden. Ribbentrop's visits and those of his subordinates to satellite states were partly aimed at implementing the extermination policy in those countries. He was hanged as a major war criminal after his condemnation by the International Military Tribunal.
P. Schwarz, This Man Ribbentrop (1943); IMT, Trial of the Major War Criminals, 24 (1949), index; G.M. Gilbert, Nuremberg Diary (1948); P. Seabury, Wilhelmstrasse (1954). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: C.R. Browning, The Final Solution and the German Foreign Office: A Study of the Referat D3 of the Abetilung Deutsch-land 1940–43 (1978).