Rudolf von Ribbentrop (born 11 May 1921) is a former German wine merchant and a former Waffen-SS Captain who served in World War II. He is the son of the German diplomat and Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop. Ribbentrop distinguished himself in the Continuation War.
In the 1950s, he was involved in a legal battle with his cousin Otto Henkell over the control of the family firm, the wine producer Henkell & Co., and eventually became a partner in the firm. His brother Adolf Henkell-von Ribbentrop also joined the firm's partnership, and is the stepfather of former defence minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg. 1960, Rudolf von Ribbentrop married Baroness Ilse-Marie von Munchhausen. In 2008, he published a biography of his father, the foreign minister.
Ribbentrop spent a year at Westminster School, London, while his father was Ambassador to Britain. The British diplomat Brian Urquhart, a pupil at the same school during Ribbentrop's time there, in his autobiography "A Life in Peace and War" (1987), describes the latter as being "doltish, surly and arrogant". Urquhart recalls that Ribbentrop, much to the dismay of his schoolmates, "arrived each morning in one of two plum-coloured Mercedes-Benz limousines". Urquhart further recalls, "On arrival in Dean's Yard, both chauffeurs would spring out, give the Nazi salute and shout "Heil Hitler!"
Peter Ustinov was his schoolmate at this time, as related in Ustinov's autobiography Dear Me (1971). Ustinov is also supposed to have clandestinely leaked Ribbentrop's presence at his school to The Times. 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. Though bearing the aristocratic "von" due to his father's adoption, he was not a member of the nobility. In 1960 he married Ilse-Marie Freiin von Munchhausen (1914—2010).
In 2008 Rudolf von Ribbentrop published a biography of his father, the foreign minister. It was in its original title called Joachim von Ribbentrop: Mein Vater: Erlebnisse und Erinnerungen. It has not been translated from German to any other language, although a translation into English is forthcoming.
On 1 September 1939, when the Second World War started, von Ribbentrop joined as a recruit in the replacement battalion of the SS-Infantry Regiment Deutschland in Munich. A month later, in October 1939, von Ribbentrop was transferred to the field regiment, which was located in the occupied portion of Czechoslovakia. In this regiment, he was enlisted to the 11. Kompanie. He served in this Kompanie during the Western Campaign, winning the Iron Cross second class, and was promoted to Sturmmann. He was also wounded for the first time.
After the Western Campaign, Ribbentrop was sent to the SS-Junkerschule in Braunschweig in order to gain training as Zugfuhrer (platoon leader). He was commissioned on 20 April 1941 as a Untersturmfuhrer. He was given command of a platoon in 1. Kompanie in Reconnaissance Battalion "Nord". Upon the invasion of the Soviet Union, SS-Kampfgruppe Nord was sent to Finland where Ribbentrop was to distinguish himself and was awarded the Finnish Freedom Cross, fourth class. On 2 September 1941, Ribbentrop was wounded again in his left forearm. He was sent to the SS hospital in Hohenlychen, where he stayed until February 1942. After a home leave, he was reassigned to the newly formed Panzerregiment of the 1st SS Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler (LSSAH).
He was transferred to 3. Kompanie's 1st Platoon as a Zugfuhrer (platoon leader). Ribbentrop arrived through Pommerania and Eastern Prussia in Kharkov in February 1943. Soon, the SS-Panzer Corps - commanded by Paul Hausser, was threatened to be surrounded by the Soviets. Hausser commanded an attack towards the south in order to break the encirclement. SS-Lieutenant Colonel Kurt Meyer led his regiment towards the Alexeyevska (or Alexeyewka). During that time, Ribbentrop was an armoured vehicle commander. The German 7th Company attacked the enemy's armoured spearhead in a marshy area. The 6th company went to protect its sister company and secure its withdrawal. They destroyed several Soviet light tanks and anti-tank guns. During the battle, Ribbentrop heard the voice of the company's radio operator, Lieutenant Alt, who informed him that the company's commander tank had been knocked out. Not long after, Ribbentrop's Panzer IV received a minor hit which destroyed its antenna and disabled future communication. Light Soviet forces were driven back by evening.
Hausser's rescue plan was launched in morning, two days after, while Ribbentrop was with his company in Merefa. There he met Hausser for the very first time, who told them "Good luck!" Meyer received an order to hit the Soviet encircling ring at its weakest point in Nowaja Vololaga. His goal was to establish a connection with Fritz Witt's battle group. Second Platoon of the 6th Company, led by SS-Lieutenant Erckardt had a task to lead the company. Soon, Erckardt entered into a firefight in a village, and he was soon killed. Ribbentrop received an order to replace him. After he took command of the 2nd Platoon, Ribbentrop ordered an advance at high speed. They passed scattered Soviet troops, and, during the advance, they destroyed few light tanks and anti-tank guns without slowing their advance. Such a manouevre placed Meyer 40 kilometres behind the Soviet spearhead. Meyer stayed behind Ribbentrop's tanks in his car and did not let other tanks halt. Tanks freely raced through Kharkov facing minor opposition from the Soviets on their left and right flanks. Just before the dark, they reached Yefremowka, a village near Alexeyevska, which was their goal for the day. Alexeyevska was captured on 13 February. In order to liberate Alexeyevska, the Soviets launched a fierce attack. However, the Germans succeeded in defending the town with heavy losses. During the action, a Soviet sniper wounded Ribbentrop through the lung. Ribbentrop refused to be pulled back to a hospital, but instead he went to rescue wounded soldiers. Ribbentrop was awarded the Iron Cross first class for his personal bravery in these battles. After serving briefly with the Regimental Staff as an Operations Officer, he was then assigned to the 6. Kompanie, II./SS-PzRgt 1, in command of the first Platoon where he went into action during the retreat from Kharkov. Ribbentrop was wounded for the third time during these battles; shot in the right shoulder blade and left shoulder.
On 1 March 1943, Ribbentrop succeeded SS Lieutenant Alt as commander of the 7. Kompanie, and he was the Kompaniechef during the recapture of Kharkov. After Kharkov was captured, Ribbentrop was placed as a Regimental Adjutant. One month later he was given the responsibility of training Luftwaffe members that were sent to the LSSAH. On 15 June he returned to field command, and was appointed commander of 6. Kompanie. One month later, on 20 July he was awarded the Knight's Cross.
On 1 August he was transferred to the newly formed 12th SS Panzer Division Hitlerjugend, and was charged with commanding two Junior officer training courses. Four months later he was appointed commander of the 3. Kompanie, I./SS-PzRgt 12. On 3 June 1944, heading back to Le Neubourg following a training exercise, his car was attacked by a Spitfire, and von Ribbentrop was wounded for the fourth time. By 9 June, he was back in command of his Kompanie. During the defensive battles in Normandy, Ribbentrop was awarded the German Cross in Gold, and the Panzer Assault Badge. Following the breakout from Falaise, von Ribbentrop was made the Regimental Adjutant to SS-Panzerregiment 12. It was in this capacity that he saw action during Operation Wacht Am Rhein.
On 20 December he was wounded for the fifth time with a shell fragment in his mouth. He was awarded the Wound Badge in Gold, and was given command of I./SS-PzRgt 12. He commanded this Abteilung until the Division surrendered to the Americans on 8 May 1945.Iron Cross II: 19 June 1940Infantry Assault Badge in Bronze: 1 October 1940Wound Badge in Black: 18 April 1940Finnish Cross of Liberty IV: 1 October 1941Iron Cross I: 18 March 1943Wound Badge in Silver: 1 May 1943Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross: 15 July 1943German Cross in Gold: 25 August 1944Wound Badge in Gold:Commissioned SS-Untersturmfuhrer: 20 April 1941SS-Obersturmfuhrer: 20 April 1943SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer: 30 January 1945Wounded: Fragment in upper right arm 30 May 1941Wounded: Bullet wound in left forearm 2 September 1941Wounded: Shot in back 5 February 1943Wounded: Wounded in back by strafing enemy fighter-bomber 3 June 1944Wounded: Shell fragment in Mouth 20 December 1944Taken prisoner by Americans 8 May 1945