Von Trapp and Agathe Whitehead circa 1910
Korvettenkapitän Georg Johannes, Ritter von Trapp (April 4, 1880 – May 30, 1947), known as Baron von Trapp, was an Austro-Hungarian Navy officer. His exploits at sea during World War I earned him numerous decorations, including the prestigious Military Order of Maria Theresa. The story of his family served as the inspiration for the musical The Sound of Music.
Georg Johannes Ritter von Trapp was born in Zara, Kingdom of Dalmatia, then a Crown Land of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, now Zadar in Croatia. His father, Fregattenkapitän August Trapp, was a naval officer who had been elevated to the Austrian nobility in 1876 which entitled him and his descendants to the style of Ritter (Knight) von in the case of male and von in the case of female offspring.
August Ritter von Trapp died in 1884, when Georg was four. His mother was Hedwig Wepler. Von Trapp's older sister was the Austrian artist Hede von Trapp. His brother, Werner von Trapp, died in World War I in 1915.
In 1894, von Trapp followed in his father's footsteps and entered the Austro-Hungarian Navy, entering the naval academy at Fiume (Rijeka). He graduated four years later and completed two years of follow-on training voyages including a trip to Australia. In 1900 he was assigned to the armored cruiser Kaiserin und Königin Maria Theresia and was decorated for his performance during the Boxer Rebellion. In 1902 he passed the officer's examination. He was fascinated by submarines, and in 1908 he seized the opportunity to be transferred to the newly-formed U-boot-Waffe. In 1910 he was given command of the newly-constructed U-6, which was christened by Agathe Whitehead, granddaughter of the Englishman Robert Whitehead, inventor of the torpedo. He commanded U-6 until 1913.
On April 17, 1915, von Trapp took command of U-5 and conducted nine combat patrols. While in command of the U-5 he sank the following:-
- the French armored cruiser Léon Gambetta at 39.30N, 18.15E on April 21, 1915, 25 kilometres (16 mi) south of Cape Santa Maria di Leuca,
- the Italian submarine Nereide at 42.23N, 16.16E on August 5, 1915, 250 metres off Pelagosa (Palagruža) Island.
- the Greek steamer Cefalonia off Durazzo on August 29, 1915.
He is sometimes credited with sinking the Italian troop transport Principe Umberto, but in reality, this was sunk by U-5 under von Trapp's successor Friedrich Schlosser (1885–1959) on June 8, 1916, after von Trapp was transferred to the U-14.
On October 14, 1915, he was transferred to the captured French submarine Curie, which the Austrian Navy redesignated U-14. While in command of U-14, he sank:
- the British tanker Teakwood at 36.39N, 21.10E on April 28, 1917,
- the Italian steamer Antonio Sciesa at 36.39N, 21.15E on May 3, 1917,
- the Greek steamer Marionga Goulandris at 35.38N, 22.36E on July 5, 1917,
- the French steamer Constance at 36.51N, 17.25E on August 23, 1917,
- the British steamer Kilwinning at 35.26N, 16.30E on August 24, 1917,
- the British steamer Titian at 34.20N, 17.30E on August 26, 1917,
- the British steamer Nairn at 34.05N, 19.20E on August 28, 1917,
- the Italian steamer Milazzo at 34.44N, 19.16E on August 29, 1917,
- the British steamer Good Hope at 35.53N, 17.05E on October 18, 1917,
- the British steamer Elsiston at 35.40N, 17.28E on October 18, 1917,
- the Italian steamer Capo Di Monte at 34.53N, 19.50E on October 23, 1917.
He conducted ten more war patrols, until, in May 1918, he was promoted to Korvettenkapitän (equal to Lieutenant Commander) and given command of the submarine base in the Gulf of Kotor.
At the end of World War I, von Trapp's wartime record stood at 19 war patrols; 11 cargo vessels totalling 45,669 tons sunk, plus the Léon Gambetta and Nereide and 1 cargo vessel captured. Among other honors, he received the Knight's Cross of the Military Order of Maria Theresa.
The end of the First World War saw the defeat and collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In the process, Austria was reduced in size to its German-speaking core – losing its seacoast – and had no further need for a navy, leaving von Trapp without a job.
Von Trapp was first married to Agathe Whitehead, who was a niece of St John Brodrick, 1st Earl of Midleton and a granddaughter of Robert Whitehead, the inventor of the first modern torpedo. It was she who had christened the U-boat U-6, his first command.
Agathe's inherited wealth sustained the couple and permitted them to start a family. Their first child, Rupert, was born on November 1, 1911, at Pola. The family lived at Pina Budicina 11. [Map 1] The marriage produced six more children: Agathe, also born at Pola; Maria Franziska; Werner; Hedwig; and Johanna; all born at Zell am See at the family home—the Erlhof[Map 2]--and Martina, born at Klosterneuburg at the family home, the Martinsschlössel.[Map 3]
On September 3, 1922, Agathe Whitehead died of scarlet fever contracted from her daughter Agathe. The family purchased a villa in Aigen, a suburb of Salzburg, and moved in 1924.[Map 4] About 1926 Maria Franziska was recovering from an illness and was unable to attend school, so von Trapp hired Maria Augusta Kutschera, from the nearby Nonnberg Abbey, as a tutor.
Von Trapp, 47, married Maria, 22, on November 26, 1927. They had three children: Rosmarie, born February 8, 1929, in Salzburg, Austria; Eleonore, born May 14, 1931, in Salzburg; and Johannes, born January 17, 1939, in Philadelphia, bringing the total number of von Trapp's children to ten.
In 1935, von Trapp's money, inherited from his first wife, was invested in a bank in England. At that time, however, Austria was under economic pressure from a hostile Germany, and Austrian banks were in a precarious position. To help a friend in the banking business, Auguste Caroline Lammer (1885–1937), von Trapp withdrew most of his money from London and deposited it in an Austrian bank; unfortunately, it failed, wiping out most of the family's fortune. As Maria further indicates in her book, von Trapp was thoroughly demoralized and depressed at this turn of events, but was unable to engage in other gainful activities, believing that it was beneath the dignity of the family to sing in public or otherwise work for a living. Prior to the loss of the family fortune, the family had engaged in singing as a hobby.
Faced with an impossible situation of little or no money and a husband incapable of providing for her or for the family, Maria took charge and began to make arrangements for the family to sing at various events as a way of earning a livelihood. At about that time, a Catholic priest, Franz Wasner, around Maria's age, came to live with them and became the group's musical director. Maria also entrusted the priest with management of the family's finances as treasurer of the Trapp Family Austrian Relief fund.
Around 1936 Lotte Lehmann heard the family sing, and she suggested they perform paid concerts. When the Austrian Chancellor Kurt von Schuschnigg heard them on the radio, he invited them to perform in Vienna.
According to Maria von Trapp's memoirs, Captain von Trapp found himself in an awkward situation in 1936. He had been offered a prestigious commission in Germany's naval forces. Already anti-Nazi, he chanced to observe Adolf Hitler and other Nazi luminaries behaving crudely in a Munich restaurant, which sealed his decision to turn down the offer. Contrary to the plot of The Sound of Music, von Trapp was in no danger of being forced to join the Navy of the Third Reich as Austria was not yet under German control. The incident still drew the Trapps' attention to the growing political situation and they decided to leave Austria.
In another separation of real life and drama, since the Captain had been born into what later became the Italian territory of Zara, the family were all Italian citizens as a result. Therefore, the family left Austria for Italy by train in broad daylight, rather than by hiking 300km over the mountains outside Salzburg to Switzerland in the middle of the night as in the The Sound of Music.
The family then sailed to the United States for their first concert tour, then went back to Europe to tour Scandinavia in 1939. During this time, they went back to Salzburg for a few months before returning to Sweden to finish the tour. From there, they traveled to Norway to begin the trip back to the United States in September 1939.
After living for a short time in Merion, Pennsylvania, where they welcomed their youngest child, Johannes, the family settled in Stowe, Vermont, in 1941. They purchased a 660-acre (2.7 km2) farm in 1942 and converted it into the Trapp Family Lodge. They built a home which they named Cor Unum (One Heart).
In January 1947, Major General Harry J. Collins turned to the von Trapp family in the USA pleading for help for the Austrian people, having seen the residents of Salzburg suffer when he had arrived there with the famed 42nd Rainbow Division after World War II. The Trapp Family founded the Trapp Family Austrian Relief, Inc.
Von Trapp died of lung cancer on May 30, 1947, in Stowe, Vermont.
|Rupert||Agathe Whitehead||November 1, 1911||February 22, 1992 (aged 80)||He married Henriette Lajoie (1927) in 1947 and had two sons and four daughters; they later divorced. He later married Janice Tyre (1920–1994), and had no children with her. He was a physician.|
|Agathe||March 12, 1913||December 28, 2010 (aged 97)||She worked as a singer and an artist, and lived in Baltimore, Maryland. Agatha also ran a kindergarten with her longtime friend of 50 years, Mary Louise Kane, at the Sacred Heart Catholic parish in Glyndon, Maryland. She had no children.|
|Maria Franziska|| September 28, 1914 ||She worked as a singer and missionary in Papua New Guinea, now lives in Vermont, no children. In 2008 she visited the ancestral home.|
|Werner||December 21, 1915||October 11, 2007 (aged 91)||He married Erika Klambauer in 1948 and had four sons and two daughters, including Elisabeth von Trapp.|
|Hedwig||July 28, 1917||September 14, 1972 (aged 55)||She worked as a teacher, lived in Austria and died of asthma, no children.|
|Johanna||September 7, 1919||November 25, 1994 (aged 75)||She married Ernst Florian Winter in 1948 and had three sons, one died, and four daughters. She lived in Vienna and died there.|
|Martina||February 17, 1921||February 25, 1951 (aged 30)||In 1949, she married Jean Dupiere (died before 1998). She died of complications during childbirth and had a stillborn daughter.|
|Rosmarie||Maria Kutschera|| February 8, 1928 or 1929||Rosmarie worked as a singer and missionary in Papua New Guinea. She most recently lived in Pittsburgh, and had no children.|
|Eleonore|| May 14, 1931 ||She married Hugh David Campbell in 1954 and has seven daughters. She lives with her family in Waitsfield, Vermont.|
|Johannes|| January 17, 1939 ||Married 1969 to Lynne Peterson and has one son, Sam von Trapp, and one daughter, Kristina von Trapp-Frame. Johannes manages the family resort in Stowe, Vermont, with his son Sam.|
- ^ Regarding personal names: Ritter is a title, translated approximately as Knight, not a first or middle name. There is no equivalent female form.
- ^ a b c "Trapp Family". Encyclopædia Britannica. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/603412/Trapp-family. Retrieved 2011-01-09. "Maria Augusta Kutschera (b. Jan. 26, 1905, Vienna—d. March 28, 1987, Morrisville, Vt., U.S.), the best-known member of the family, wrote The Story of the Trapp Family Singers (1949). She recounted her experience as an orphan and novitiate in a Benedictine convent in Salzburg. As a governess, she won the hearts of the seven children of a widower, Freiherr (Baron) Georg von Trapp, a World War I submarine commander, and of the baron himself. She was married to Trapp in 1927, and they had three children. In the mid-1930s the family began singing German and liturgical music under the tutelage of the Reverend Franz Wasner, who continued as their director. In 1937 they made their first European tour as professional singers—the Trapp Family Choir. With Father Wasner, the family fled in 1938 from Nazi-dominated Austria to Italy (Switzerland in the play) and emigrated to the United States. ..."
- ^ a b c d e "Tribute to Baron von Trapp Joined by Country He Fled". New York Times. July 14, 1997. http://www.nytimes.com/1997/07/14/us/tribute-to-baron-von-trapp-joined-by-country-he-fled.html. Retrieved 2011-01-08. "The ceremonies ended today in a morning Mass, at which the cadets stood watch during a performance of Franz Schubert's German Mass, then laid a wreath at the grave of Baron and Baroness von Trapp, who were portrayed by Christopher Plummer and Julie Andrews in the 1965 film The Sound of Music. ... The six surviving children are Eleonore Campbell, Rosmarie Trapp and Maria F., Werner, Johannes and Agathe von Trapp, all of whom live in the United States."
- ^ a b c d e f g h i von Trapp, Georg. To the Last Salute: Memories of an Austrian U-Boat Commander. ISBN 0-8032-4667-6. http://books.google.com/books?id=dOHuFPfh4uwC&pg=PR14&lpg=PR14&dq=January+10,+1911+von+trapp. "Not long after that Agathe, the oldest daughter, came down with scarlet fever. Her siblings also contracted the disease, and their mother nursed them. ... They were married on January 10, 1911, and lived in the Trapp villa in Pola, Austria. Their first child, Rupert Georg von Trapp, was born November 1, 1911, ..."
- ^ a b c d e f Gearin, Joan. "The Real Story of the von Trapp Family". National Archives and Records Administration. http://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2005/winter/von-trapps.html. Retrieved 2009-01-05. "Maria Kutschera and Georg von Trapp married in 1927. They had three children together: Rosmarie, 1929– ; Eleonore, 1931– ; and Johannes, 1939–."
- ^ Sources conflict on whether the marriage took place in January of 1911 or January of 1912.
- ^ a b Social Security Death Index as "Rupert Vontrapp" 1 November 1911 – 22 February 1992; 05672 (Stowe, Lamoille, VT); 127-14-1082; Social Security issued in New York
- ^ a b "Susan Hoyt, Teacher, Sets July Wedding". New York Times. March 23, 1980. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F60817FC395C11728DDDAA0A94DB405B8084F1D3. Retrieved 2007-07-21. "The engagement of Susan Thatcher Hoyt to Bernhard Rupert von Trapp has been announced by her mother, Mrs. G. Chamberlin Hoyt of Short Hills, New Jersey. Mr. von Trapp is a son of Mr. and Mrs. Werner von Trapp of Waitsfield, Vermont and Salzburg, Austria. A July wedding is planned."
- ^ a b c "Petition for Naturalization". National Archives and Records Administration. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:MariaVonTrapp.jpg. Retrieved 2009-01-05.
- ^ a b c d e f g h i Kerr, Peter (March 29, 1987). "Maria von Trapp, whose life was 'Sound of Music', is Dead". New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B0DEED91738F93AA15750C0A961948260. Retrieved 2007-07-21. "Maria Augusta von Trapp, the guiding force behind a family of singers who won world renown when their story was portrayed in the play and film The Sound of Music, died of heart failure yesterday in Morrisville, Vermont, three days after undergoing surgery. She was 82 years old and had lived in Stowe, Vermont, for more than 40 years. ... She is survived by a son, Johannes, of Stowe; two daughters, Eleonore Campbell of Waitsfield, Vermont, and Rosmarie Trapp of Pittsburgh; two stepsons, Rupert, of Stowe and Werner, of Waitsfield; three stepdaughters, Agathe von Trapp of Glyndon, Maryland, Maria Franziska von Trapp of Papua New Guinea and Johanna von Trapp of San Diego and by 29 grandchildren."
- ^ "Family Choir". Time magazine. December 19, 1938. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,772134,00.html. Retrieved 2011-01-07. "When Soprano Lotte Lehmann heard them, she suggested concerts. When Austrian Chancellor Kurt von Schuschnigg heard them over the radio, he invited them to sing in Vienna. Soon the von Trapps were touring the whole map of Europe."
- ^ a b "Family Life in Vermont". Time magazine. July 18, 1949. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,794845,00.htm. Retrieved 2011-01-07. "In 1938, the Trapps arrived in the U.S. with $4 in their pocket and a concert contract in hand. Father Wasner came along as the family chaplain, by special dispensation of his bishop. 'How I hated this country at first,' Mrs. Trapp says. "Oblong envelopes and mayonnaise on pears!' But the family was soon making $1,000 a concert, and she thought better of the country. "It's so big,' she exclaims, "and I love to make long-distance calls!" All the Trapps are now U.S. citizens, have dropped their titles and the 'von.'"
- ^ "Tribute to Baron von Trapp Joined by Country He Fled". New York Times. July 14, 1997. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E05E7DE1438F937A25754C0A961958260. Retrieved 2009-01-05. "In 1942, the Baron and his wife bought a farm in Stowe and built the lodge, which burned in 1980 and was rebuilt. Some family members have continued to run the lodge as an inn and ski resort."
- ^ In The Story of the Trapp Family Singers, Maria points out that there was a high incidence of lung cancer among World War I U-Boat crews due to the diesel and gasoline fumes and poor ventilation, and that his death could be considered service-related. Maria also acknowledges in her book, published in 1949, that, like most men of the period, the Captain was a heavy smoker.
- ^ a b Social Security Death Index as "Janice T. Vontrapp" 26 June 1920; 21 December 1994 (V) 05672 (Stowe, Lamoille, VT); 05672 (Stowe, Lamoille, VT) 169-14-4569; Social Security issued in Pennsylvania
- ^ "So long, farewell: Von Trapp daughter dies, aged 97". New York Times. 30 December 2010. http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2010/dec/30/von-trapp-daughter-dies. Retrieved 2011-01-09. "Agathe von Trapp, whose film counterpart was 16-going-on-17 Liesl, who had her heart broken by Rolf, the post boy turned Hitler Youth member, died from heart failure at a hospice in the Baltimore suburb of Towson, her friend Mary Louise Kane said yesterday."
- ^ "Superman and ‘Sound of Music’". The Baltimore Examiner. http://www.examiner.com/a-222656~M__Hirsh_Goldberg__Superman_and__Sound_of_Music___A_cautionary_tale.html. Retrieved 2009-01-06. "She is Agathe von Trapp, the eldest daughter in the famed Trapp Family Singers, whose performances in concerts in 30 countries inspired the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic The Sound of Music. I met her several years ago when she was writing her autobiography, Agathe von Trapp: Memories Before & After The Sound of Music. ... I found Agathe, 93, to be a delightful person — soft-spoken with a warm, engaging smile. Born in Austria, she and her family left that country shortly after the Nazis invaded. Her father, a captain in the Austrian navy, rejected the Nazis and found Hitler, whom he had once seen in a Munich restaurant, to be vulgar and crude in private, said Agathe. The family eventually came to the United States, settled in Vermont and performed throughout the country. After her father died and the family ceased performing, Agathe moved to Baltimore, where she helped operate a private kindergarten for 35 years"
- ^ Electronic mail from Carla Campbell von Trapp Hunter from August 2010
- ^ VON TRAPP, JOHANNES. "The von Trapp Family Biography". http://www.trappfamily.com/story/biography.
- ^ Peterkin, Tom (26 July 2008). "Maria Franziska von Trapp returns to home that inspired The Sound of Music". The Telegraph (London). http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/celebritynews/2460543/Maria-von-Trapp-returns-to-home-that-inspired-The-Sound-of-Music.html. Retrieved 2008-12-26. "Seventy years after fleeing the Nazis, a 93-year-old woman whose family was immortalised in "The Sound of Music" has returned to Austria to visit her former home."
- ^ a b c "Trapp Family Biography". Trapp Family Lodge. http://www.trappfamily.com/familystory/history.php?tid=156. Retrieved 2009-01-21.
- ^ "Werner von Trapp, a Son in ‘Sound of Music’ Family, Dies at 91". Associated Press in New York Times. October 15, 2007. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/15/arts/music/15trapp.html?n=Top/Reference/Times%20Topics/Subjects/D/Deaths%20(Obituaries). Retrieved 2009-01-05. "Werner von Trapp, a member of the family made famous by the stage musical and the 1965 movie 'The Sound of Music,' died Thursday at his home in Waitsfield, Vt. He was 91."
- ^ "Granddaughter of 'Sound of Music' duo to perform". The Topeka Capital-Journal. April 24, 2008. http://www.cjonline.com/stories/042408/lei_271644771.shtml. Retrieved 2008-12-26. "Her father, Werner, who was portrayed in the musical as the stoic Kurt, purchased a dairy farm about 35 miles south of the von Trapp family's New World homestead after he left the Trapp Family Singers. ... Werner von Trapp died Oct. 11, 2007, at age 91."
- ^ Clifford, Stephanie (December 24, 2008). "Von Trapps Reunited, Without the Singing". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/25/business/25vontrapp.html?_r=1&em. Retrieved 2008-12-26. "Still, Johannes von Trapp, the 10th and youngest child, remembers growing up relatively anonymously in a quiet, strict home. ... By 1969, he had graduated from Dartmouth, completed a master’s degree from the Yale school of forestry and was planning on an academic career in natural resources. He returned to Stowe to put the inn’s finances in order, and ended up running the place. He tried to leave, moving to a ranch in British Columbia in 1977 and staying a few years, then moving to a ranch in Montana. But the professional management in Stowe kept quitting. 'Now I’m stuck here,' he said."