Dries Riphagen was wanted in connection with the arrests of Jewish people in hiding and the deaths of at least 200 people. The prosecutor, Paul Brilman, considered Riphagen to be one of the worst examples of Dutch collaboration with the German occupier.
Bernardus Andreas Riphagen (nickname: Dries) was born on 7th September 1909 as the eighth child in an unhappy family. His father Evert worked in the navy and had married for the second time. Riphagen’s mother Alida died when he was six years old and his father had difficulty supporting him because he was often drunk. At the age of 14, he entered Pollux, a training centre for merchants in the harbour of Amsterdam. In the years 1923 and 1924, he became an ordinary seaman and after his training he chooses to go into cargo shipping. He spent two years in North America, working mostly for Standard Oil. In this period, it is likely that he developed his American habits that lead to him receiving the nickname ‘Al Capone’.
When he returned to the Netherlands at the age of 18, he came into contact with the criminal underworld of Amsterdam and therefore also with the police. He did not become a member of the NSB but rather the NSNAP, an extreme anti-Semitic group that wanted to ‘promote’ the Netherlands to a province of the German Reich. In this period, he became a pimp on the Rembrandt Square in Amsterdam and developed a penchant for jewellery and jewels. He joined a criminal organisation that profited from the black market and prostitution sector as a pimp. As well as restoring jewellery, he was involved in trading second-hand cars and became involved in the gambling world of Amsterdam.
During the war, Riphagen continued with trading and expanded his business by working with the Germans as an intermediary agent of the intelligence agency of the SS, the Sicherheitsdienst (or SD), in The Hague. As more anti-Jewish policies were introduced, the collaboration between Riphagen and the Germans became more and more lucrative. When Jewish people were arrested, their property, stocks, jewellery and cash were taken before the arrestees and remaining household items were handed over to the Germans.
Riphagen ran clandestine roulette houses, offered “ladies of pleasure” to accommodate high German officials and traded in currency, gold and diamonds on the black market with his old friends from the Rembrandt Square such as Joop Out, ‘Manke’ (Criple) Toon Kuijper, Harry Rond and Gerrit Verbeek. Having climbed the ladder from an undercover agent to a bona fide employee, Riphagen decided to join the Devisenschutzkommando (DSK), part of the Central Office for Jewish Emigration. The most important function of the DSK was to counteract the increasing instances of black market trading in shares. Another function was to gather the Jewish possessions that had escaped the German currency regulations. Members of the DSK received 5 to 10% of the possessions gathered in return for their work. In reality, however, most of the goods discovered ended up in the hands of individual members.
Riphagen, together with Joop Out, worked as an undercover agent at the Jüdenreferat IV B 4, in the Sicherheitsdienst in The Hague. They combined their knowledge of the underworld of Amsterdam and their contacts with other undercover agents to increase their income. Their workplace remained Amsterdam. It is in this period that Riphagen undoubtedly first came into contact with the Olij family. Jan, Kees and Sam Olij were infamous for exposing Jews in hiding. From 1943 onwards Riphagen was part of the ‘Column Henneicke’. This was a group of bounty hunters that, with the help of anonymous tips, hunted down Jewish people in hiding at the height of Jewish deportation. This group was formed in mid-1942 by Willem Christiaan Henneicke and existed mostly of members of Amsterdam’s underworld, including members of the NSB who worked for the Central Office in the department Hausraterfassung.
For every Jewish person that was collected, they received a bounty (Kopfgeld/ per head) of between 2.50 to 40 Dutch guilders. Riphagen’s expertise still lay in the trading of currency and jewellery which had brought him a small fortune by the end of 1943. Frequently he would take the jewellery to be stored in safes in Belgium or Switzerland. The Column Henneicke exploited the knowledge of captured Jews who, threatened with the potential deportation of family members, would reveal the location of other Jewish people in hiding or be forced to infiltrate resistance groups. The Jewish conspirators, Betje Wery and Ans van Dijk worked for Riphagen as undercover agents. The Column Henneicke came to an end due to corruption among the ranks but nevertheless, they had succeeded in arresting 3.400 Jewish people between April and September of 1943. The Jews who were arrested were taken to the Hollandsche Schouwburg (a former theatre in Amsterdam) from where they would later be transported to the transit camp Westerbork and finally to extermination camps in Poland. During the final year of the war, Riphagen was a member of the Hoffmann group of the SD in Assen. This group specialised in hunting down allied pilots in hiding and tracking down the hide outs of Allied air-dropped weapons.
After the war, Riphagen came into contact with Wim Sanders, a former member of the resistance. Sanders was an ex-police chief in Enschede with a questionable history, particularly in connection with the transportation of Jewish people to the extermination camps. In 1943 he set up a private service (Centrale Inlichtingendienst) for pursuing those who had collaborated with the Germans. His intelligence service used peculiar methods. They did not, for example, arrest Riphagen since he was the one who had approached them to make a deal. Via old friends from Amsterdam, Harry Rond and Joop Out, he met Jan Schouw. Joop Out was not presented to the authorities but was under house arrest for as long as he worked for Sanders’ intelligence service. In exchange for information, Riphagen was safe from being handed over to the authorities but was also put under house arrest. He worked with the detective and former member of the resistance, Frits Kerkhoven at the Zuider Amstellaan in Amsterdam. Riphagen had to collect information about other collaborators and to help unravel the German intelligence network in The Netherlands. At this time, he was Sanders' own private arrestee and was protected from being discovered by other intelligence services.
“I collaborated because I had no other option. It was either this or final destination to a Konzentrationslager” was the answer of Appie de Jong to the prosecutor why he had collaborated. De Jong was arrested while smuggling foreign currency over the border to Belgium. He was pressed to act as an informant (V-Mann) for Kriminalsekretär Wenski, section contraband and black market. During trial it became known that he had worked closely with Riphagen en the Jewish woman Betje Teurlings Wery. The latter also active as a smuggler of currency, gold, gems and silver to Antwerp, Belgium, was caught by members of the Devisenschutzcommando in 1943. Under pressure she agreed to collaborate and to act as an informant, V-Frau.
It was Betje Wery who was responsible for betraying the members of the PCB (falsification unit of the resistance) members Badrian. Due to her looks and offering ration cards or acting as an intermediary to the SD she, unfortunately, gained the confidence of her victims and underground organisations in en outside Amsterdam. Another Jewish V-Frau was Ans (Anne) van Dijk. She too was arrested in Amsterdam in 1943. Together with the Jewish woman Branca Simons (and her husband the black market dealer W. Huthuys), Maria (Mies) de Regt, she formed a lethal team offering their “services” to SD detective and most active member of Colonne Henneike Piet Schaap in exchange for freedom and profit. All of the received like Riphagen a share of the profits made on confiscated goods by the Devisenschutzkommando or Kopfgeld. A bounty sum for each arrested Jew, varying from 2,50 to 40 guilders per head...
During the trial of Wery, Van Dijk and De Jong fingers pointed out to Riphagen as the actor intellectualis. Strange thing though was that Riphagen himself (with wife and child) and Joop Out were placed under house arrest at Kerkhovens home. Supposedly to smoothen them up in order to extract information on the Devisenschutzkommando and Colonne Henneicke members. Even Betje Wery was taking to Kerkhovens home in order to sign a readymade statement in Riphagen’s favour. During the “interview” of Wery by the Dutch BNV (National Bureau of Security) police investigators Fritz Kerkhoven en Jan Schouw, Riphagen was present in the adjacent room. Coordinating the interview from next door. Even his superior SD chief Willy Lages stated during the trail of Wery and Van Dijk that “dunkele ehrenmänner” housed Riphagen, in order to diminish his role as a collaborator during the war.
According to SD man Mollis, Riphagen was a very an unscrupulous, and very clever crook. Riphagen once even said to Wery: “If the Germans will lose the war, nothing will happen to me. The Dutch underground movement will cover me”. Indeed this is what happened.
It is unsurprising that Riphagen ‘escaped’ from Kerkhoven’s house in February 1946. Kerkhoven offered a way out. Nobody knew that they had done business before the war, in the second hand cars trade.
Riphagen escaped with help from Frits Kerkhoven’s chauffeur business that, among other things, was specialised in funeral services. Riphagen was smuggled over the Dutch border in a coffin inside a hearse. There, he was met by other members of Amsterdam’s criminal underworld who steered him through Belgium and France. When they reached the Spanish border they took a group photo. Next to Riphagen stood ‘Manke’ Toon Kuijper, Piet Herculeins and Willem Okkelenburg. Joop Out had been arrested and sent to prison. No one knows what happened to the group in the photo but Riphagen was eventually seen with the bunker builder, Van Vuuren. In May 1946, Riphagen was arrested in Huesca because he did not have a residence permit. He was put in the provincial prison in Huesca. During his imprisonment he received help from Jesuit father Juan Terradas of the Instituto Cristo Rey (Pozuela de Alarcón, Madrid).
After eight months he was released on bail on the condition that he would obtain the necessary documents within a time frame of two months. Again the Jesuit father came to rescue. Riphagen obtained the necessary document, a one way out ticket, of the Dirección de Migraciones. On 4 February 1947 his request to immigrate to Argentina had been approved by the Argentinean Consul in Madrid. One of the requirements to be able to set foot on Argentinean soil was the proof of an Argentinean benefactor which would vouch for Riphagen to take care of him (his lodging, employment, etc). The Jesuit father Terradas had given him a contact person in Buenos Aires: the Jesuit father Juan Moglia, and an address; calle Sarandi 65, Buenos Aires. Riphagen was ready to go. On 3 June 1947 he received his Nansen passport, an identity card for stateless refugees.
By the time that the Dutch Department of Justice was informed of his whereabouts in Madrid, he had flown to Argentina with Jan van ’t Hof on 21st March 1948. In Spain Riphagen met former Dutch boxer and Waffen SS volunteer Jan Olij.
In July 1945 Jan Olij was arrested and locked up in the prison at the Amstelveenseweg in Amsterdam. Awaiting his trial he was sent in 1947 to the internment camp at Hoensbroek, where he did forced labour in the coal mines of Limburg. There he managed to escape his guards and since that time he remained a fugitive. As he said during an interview with the Nieuwe Revue in February 1989: "It was clear I had to leave Holland and I immediately fled to Spain." He ended in the concentration camp Nan Clares de la Oca at Bilbao. His stay there wouldn’t last long. He fled and started to box for a living under the pseudonym of Jack Olij. It was in this environment that he met Andries Riphagen who like him was a fugitive. Riphagen owned some money that he had "saved" during the war with which he organised boxing contests in Spanish Basque country. From the profits of these games Jan was able to buy a ticket for a boat to Argentina. In 1949 he crossed the Atlantic on board the ship Rio Tessana and arrived in Argentina through Brazil. Upon arrival he was registered under the name of Hans Olij. He stayed in contact with Riphagen who sometimes pretended to be a Danish and sometimes a Dutch national. Riphagen invested his savings in a transport company and financed the boxing matches for Olij.
In Argentina, the Dutch ambassador F.C.A. Baron van Pallandt tried to have Riphagen extradited. Extradition was not possible since he could only be charged for old offences such as car theft and robbery. There was too little evidence which meant that Riphagen could no longer be sought after. The extreme right newspaper, La Razón, stated on 21st May 1951 that ‘the Supreme Court had decided that the offences of theft and fraud were statute barred’. This public pardoning was down to Riphagen’s connections with the leading member of the Argentinean Supreme Court, Rodolfo Valenzuela, the private secretary of president Juan Perón. He also a connection with Perón and his third wife Maria Estela Martínez de Perón (Isabelita) which he maintained until his death. In the mid-1960s, Péron and Isabelita Perón exchanged many letters with Riphagen, who at that time was in Germany. He even visited them in the Spanish neighbourhood of Puerta de Hierro, Madrid. Riphagen had settled in Buenos Aires, in the neighbourhood of Belgrano and ran a press photo agency. He worked for the Secret Services under Perón and organised boxing matches in Luna Park for his old friend Jan Olij. After the Revoluciòn Libertadora in 1955, Riphagen roamed around Europe, chiefly in Spain, Switzerland and Germany. He surrounded himself with wealthy ladies who could support him financially. Finally, he died from cancer in 1973 in Montreux.
In Riphagen’s Nansen passport that was taken into possession by the Dutch ambassador in Argentina, it stated that his address in Spain was: Calles Padilla 4, 2da puerta á la derecha, where he lived rent-free courtesy of a woman called Alicia Lopéz Garcia. The information about Riphagen’s stay in Madrid came from the Intelligence Office of C.L.W. Fock in London. Dutch envoy in Madrid, S.G.N. van Voorst tot Voorst, was informed by the Tribunal Supremo that all efforts to arrest Riphagen had failed.
This investigation on Andries Riphagen forms part of a larger investigation into the Dutch “ratlines” to Latin America. Recently a work on the Nazi brothers Sassen was published; Nazis to the Core, the Sassen brothers and their anti Bolshevik Crusade in Latin America (Aspekt 2015) investigating their escape to Latin America. Wim Sassen was known as the ghost-writer of Adolf Eichmann. Less is known about the other family members who fled to Ecuador after the IIWW, using different escape routes, starting in different European countries. One thing they all had in common they were reunited with their former Nazi comrades.
On September 22 2016 a Dutch movie was released by the producer Pieter Kuijpers, on “Riphagen”. The movie Riphagen will never be able to depict the fear and terror Riphagen and his Jewhunting gang caused. His helpers, V-mann or V-Frau, gained confidence and once trusted, handed them over to the Gestapo for a few guilders. A ticket to a death camp for 2.5 Guilders...