Riphagen

Dries Riphagen was a criminal and Nazi collaborator in Holland during WWII.  I watched a 2016 Dutch movie of the same name about him that is both dramatic and horrifying.  I do not know how accurate the movie is, but here in outline is what is known about Dries Riphagen.

Riphagen was a criminal from an early age.  He even went to the US and was in contact with US criminal elements there, from which his nickname of “Al Capone” came.  He was also an early member of a National Socialist (Nazi) support group and was extremely anti-Semitic. When the Nazis occupied Holland in 1940, Riphagen became one of their main collaborators.  But, he was not the only one, there were the Olij and Henneicke gangs too that he cooperated with.

He worked for the Nazi SD (Sicherheitsdienst or Security Service, that was the intelligence arm of the SS).  His speciality was finding hidden Jews and offering to save them if they gave him their valuables and jewellery. He then kept a large proportion of this for himself and his gang and then betrayed them to  the SD.  He amassed a large fortune that he kept in safes in Luxembourg and elsewhere.  He also kept photographs of himself with all of his Jewish victims.

There was a problem though, since all Jewish property was considered to belong to the German Reich.  However, Riphagen’s criminal activities were over-looked because he also worked with the SD to destroy the Dutch resistance to the Germans.  He found a young Jewish woman Betje Wery who was hiding under an assumed name, who had contacts with the resistance.  He threatened to murder her family if she did not cooperate with him. Through her contacts he was able to help the SD destroy two resistance groups, resulting in the deaths of several and the capture and torture of others.

When the Germans were forced to leave Holland during 1944 Riphagen went with them, but when it became clear that the Germans would be defeated, he contacted the Dutch intelligence service and offered to return to Holland and give them an accounting of his activities if they would protect him.  One member of the Dutch intelligence community, who had collected the German files and had files on everyone, Wim Sanders, agreed.  So Riphagen returned to Holland and was kept as a hidden source by Sanders.  But, Riphagen lied about his activities and accused both Wery and other members of the resistance of being complicit with the Germans.

Unfortunately, Sanders believed him and so there began a period of strife within the Dutch intelligence service over who was right.  In 1946 Riphagen managed to escape inside a coffin, collected his ill-gotten riches and escaped to Spain.  He avoided a Dutch request for his extradition and then escaped with the help of Catholic priests to Argentina where he cultivated connections with the Peron regime and worked for their Secret Service. When the Peronist regime collapsed, Riphagen returned to Europe and lived a wealthy life until his death in Switzerland in 1973.   It is thought that he was directly responsible for the deaths of over 200 people.  Betje Wery was tried and received a prison sentence for her complicity in the deaths of resistance fighters.

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