Alex Ripp was born in Vinogradi in Croatia in 1927. His father Jakob was born in Osijek in 1884 and his mother in 1888 in Hungary. Alex had two older sisters and an older brother, who lived with his wife's family in Croatia. The sisters married in Slovenia. They converted to Catholicism after marriage. This is why they were not discovered by the Germans and deported to a concentration camp.
Shani, as Alex is called by his friends, went to a Jewish school on Palmotičeva street in Zagreb. He finished the third and fourth grade there and then the family moved to Osijek, where his brother Andria ran a factory. When the Germans occupied Yugoslavia in 1941 he fled to his sister's family in Novo Mesto. His brother could have joined him but was reluctant to leave his parents. He did not declare himself as Jewish in Novo Mesto. His sister's husband owned a textiles factory. After the Italian capitulation in 1943, Shani joined the partisans, where he spent three months. Soon Shani, Miha Barbič and Niko Pavlič were captured by the Slovenian Homeguard, but Shani's brother-in law knew a Gestapo officer who was then given a valuable ring in return for the release of the young men. They were caught by the Homeguard again and were almost shot. Again, Shani's sister intervened and the Gestapo suggested that the young men find work in Graz, which they did.