BOOKS

Rudolf von Ripper | An artist with a gun

07.02.24

Rudolf von Ripper. An Artist With a Gun
by Erika Månsson

Rudolf von Ripper. Un artista con un fusil (Ruldolf von Ripper. An Artist with a Gun) is the result of an extensive research; a chronicle seeking to depict a man’s fascinating life and faith. Von Ripper (1905-1960) fought against totalitarianism and fascism during his whole life and was found dead in strange circumstances in Pollença, Mallorca, 1960.

Rudolf von Ripper. Un artist with a gun is available on Amazon (click here for the link to the Spanish site). E-book format and translations are coming up soon! The book is also stocked in local bookshops. If you wish to buy it directly through me, I’d be happy to hear from you (info@theletterlab.com).

To do research on von Ripper’s life meant immersing myself in an existence bordered by historical events and figures. It was an intense and gratifying project, yet somehow astonishing to learn that such a versatile and outstanding character has fallen into oblivion. Especially when you consider the significant connection to the quiet Majorcan village where I live — not to mention the impression he made! I wish von Ripper could be remembered for his acts and achievements and acknowledged for his art, especially here in Pollença, where he kept coming back to lick his wounds.

Who was Rudolf von Ripper?

Baron von Ripper (1905-1960) lived several lives in one; aristocrat, war hero, internationally acclaimed artist, playboy, CIA agent, smuggler of precious stones… Love, war, drama, glamour and fine art are just a few of the ingredients in what resembles more a movie plot than reality!

From a concentration camp to CIA

Von Ripper mastered the hability to bond and make the right contacts. He joined the most influential circles among intellectuals, writers and artists in cities like Berlin, Paris and New York. His art reflected his personality; passionate, intense and true to his ideal and values. His inexhaustible portrayal of the consequences of fascism during the Third Reich cost him time in a concentration camp, which marked him for life, both physically and mentally. He would then fight with the Allies and be recruited by the CIA. Von Ripper was successful in everything he did, but he also gained powerful enemies along the way.

Otto Skorzeny’s revenge?

What actually happened that fatal ninth of July in 1960 when von Ripper died is still shrouded in mystery. Was he murdered? Poisioned and/or drowned? Did the notorious nazi —and von Ripperçs archenemy— Otto Skorzeny finally track him down to carry out his revenge for having him captured and arrested at the end of WWII? Was it suicide? Or maybe even a brilliant escape? The official, yet doubtful, cause of death is a heart attack, but the employees at the cemetery in Pollença claim that they’ve always known that von Ripper’s coffin was filled with stones…

Rudolf von Ripper’s gravestone in Pollença’s cemetery.

Von Ripper and Pollença

Von Ripper settled in Pollença in the fifties as a renowned artist as well as a decorated war hero. All he desired was to focus less on war and more on his art. But how did the inhabitants in a small Majorcan village perceive his presence? Those were hard times on the island and people’s everyday struggle could hardly differ more from the apparent carefree and exuberant way of life that von Ripper and his young, glamorous wife enjoyed. If a cultural and linguistic barrier already existed, the Hollowod style parties and eccentricities weren’t much of a help.

Von Ripper today

So how is von Ripper remembered today? The sad truth is that hardly at all. A few people recall having heard his name among those of other eccentric foreigners who resided in Pollença. but never for his artistry, unlike other foreign artists that were active more or less during the same period. My chronicle intend to highlight how baron von Ripper interacted with and had a positive effect on the community and why he deserves a mention in the history books.

You can’t get away from yourself by moving from one place to another.

Ernest Hemingway, Rudolf von Ripper’s friend and fellow freedom fighter
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