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Georg von Trapp
Born April 4, 1880(1880-04-04)
Zadar, Austria-Hungary
Died May 30, 1947 (aged 67)
Stowe, Vermont
Nationality Austrian
Spouse(s) Agathe Whitehead (1891-1922) m. 1911-1922
Maria Augusta Kutschera (1905-1987) m. 1927-1947
Children Rupert von Trapp (1911-1992)
Agathe von Trapp (1913)
Maria Franziska von Trapp (1914)
Werner von Trapp (1915-2007)
Hedwig von Trapp (1917-1972)
Johanna von Trapp (1919-1994)
Martina von Trapp (1921-1951)
Rosemarie von Trapp (1929)
Eleonore von Trapp (1931)
Johannes von Trapp (1939)

Korvettenkapitän Georg Ludwig Ritter von Trapp (April 4, 1880 – May 30, 1947) was an Austro-Hungarian Navy officer. His exploits at sea during the World War I earned him numerous decorations, including the prestigious Military Order of Maria Theresa.

Later, von Trapp headed the singing family portrayed in the heavily-fictionalized musical The Sound of Music.

Contents

Birth and naval career

Georg Ludwig Ritter von Trapp was born in Zadar, Dalmatia, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, now 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 Ludwig was four. His mother was Hedwig Wepler.[1] Von Trapp's older sister was the Austrian artist Hede von Trapp. He also had a brother, Werner von Trapp, who died in World War I in 1915.[1]

In 1894, von Trapp followed his father's career into the Austro-Hungarian Navy, entering the naval academy at Rijeka (Fiume).[1] 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.

Von Trapp 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.[2] He commanded U-6 until 1913.

On April 22, 1915, von Trapp took command of U-5 and conducted nine combat patrols. While in command of the U-5 he sank:

  • The French armored cruiser Léon Gambetta at 39.30N, 18.15E on April 21, 1915, 15 miles south of Cape Santa Maria di Leuca

He captured:

  • 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 the 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 the 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 34.44N, 19.16E at 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, 1 cargo vessel captured, the French armored cruiser Léon Gambetta (12,600 tons) and the Italian submarine Nereide (225 tons). 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.

First marriage

Von Trapp was first married to Agathe Whitehead, who was a niece of Lord Midleton and a grand-daughter of Robert Whitehead, the inventor of the torpedo.[1] It was she who had christened the U-boat U-6, his first command.[1] Sources conflict on whether the marriage took place in January 1911 or January 1912.[1][2]

Agathe's inherited wealth sustained the couple and permitted them to start a family. Their first child, Rupert von Trapp[3], was born on 1 November 1911 at Pola. The marriage produced six more children: Agathe von Trapp, born at Pola; Maria Franziska von Trapp, Werner von Trapp[4], Hedwig von Trapp, and Johanna von Trapp, all born at Zell am See at the family home, the Erlhof 47°18′46.88″N 12°48′59.53″E / 47.3130222°N 12.8165361°E / 47.3130222; 12.8165361; and Martina von Trapp, born at Klosterneuburg at the family home, the Martinsschlössel. 48°18′48.04″N 16°19′10.47″E / 48.3133444°N 16.319575°E / 48.3133444; 16.319575

On September 3, 1922, Agathe Whitehead died of scarlet fever contracted from her daughter Agathe von Trapp.[1]

The family purchased a villa in Aigen, a suburb of Salzburg, and moved in 1924.[1] 47°47′19.59″N 13°4′53.00″E / 47.788775°N 13.08139°E / 47.788775; 13.08139

About 1926 Maria Franziska von Trapp was recovering from an illness and was unable to attend school, and Von Trapp hired Maria Augusta Kutschera, from the nearby Nonnberg Abbey, as a tutor.

Second marriage

Maria Augusta, 22, and Georg, 47, married on November 26, 1927.[1][5] The birth date of their first child, Rosemarie von Trapp, may have been January 8, 1928, just 1 month and 13 days after the wedding, because the date appears on Maria von Trapp's declaration of intention for naturalization in 1944, and four years later on her petition for naturalization.[5] However, in her 1972 autobiography, "Maria", she includes a photo of herself on her wedding day and there is no visual evidence of a pregnancy. The picture does not, however, include the captain, and there is nothing that indicates when it was taken. In Georg's biography he uses the year 1929 for the birth without any further explanation.[1] In Maria's 1949 book, "The Story of the Trapp Family Singers", she describes informing her stepchildren of her first pregnancy in the summer, but by the time she wrote the book, more than 20 years had passed, the captain was dead, and Maria was attempting to market the family story for profit. The declaration of intention and the petition for naturalization were executed under oath. The declaration was signed in 1944. As Maria relates in her 1949 book, around that time, she got into trouble with the War Production Board, and she may have had an especial incentive to be truthful when submitting papers to the federal government under oath, and less of an incentive to do so when supplying pictures or writing stories.

Georg and Maria would later have two more children: Eleonore von Trapp, born May 14, 1931 in Salzburg; and Johannes von Trapp, born January 17, 1939 in Philadelphia, bringing the total number of Georg's children to ten.[2][6]

Later life

In 1935, Georg's money, inherited from his first wife, Agathe, 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, Auguste Caroline Lammer (1885–1937), in the banking business, Georg withdrew most of his money from London and deposited it in an Austrian bank. The Austrian bank thereafter failed, which wiped out most of the family's fortune.[2] As Maria further indicates in her book, Georg was thoroughly demoralized and depressed at this turn of events, but was unable to engage in other gainful activities, and believed 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 arranged for singing engagements, 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, came to live with them. About the same age as Maria, he became the musical director of the group.

The movie depiction of the family's flight from Austria differs from reality in many respects. First, von Trapp was in no danger of being ordered to join Hitler's navy after the Anschluss. He had taken Italian citizenship after 1918, and so was protected from any such orders; he would have had to volunteer. In any case, World War I veterans who were Austrian citizens were not called to join Hitler's forces until 1939 and 1940, long after the Anschluss.[7] The von Trapps were indeed opposed to the Anschluss, in particular because of Nazi persecution of Catholics, but did not depart suddenly or under pain of separation. In fact, as the website http://www.villa-trapp.com makes clear, after leaving, the von Trapps rented out their house.

The family left Austria for Italy by train, returning to Georg's home village, not to Switzerland on foot as depicted in The Sound of Music. They sailed to the United States in 1938 for their first concert tour, then went back to Europe to tour Scandinavia in 1939. During this time, they actually 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.[8]

After living for a short time in Merion, Pennsylvania, where their last child Johannes was born, the family settled in Stowe, Vermont in 1941. They purchased a 660-acre farm in 1942 and converted it into the Trapp Family Lodge.[9] They built a home which they named Cor Unum (One Heart).

In January 1947, Major General Harry J. Collins turned to the 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.

Georg Ritter von Trapp died of lung cancer on May 30, 1947 in Stowe, Vermont.[10]

Legacy

Johannes von Trapp succeeded Maria as manager of the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, which remains among Vermont's most popular tourist attractions and is one of the major concert sites of the Vermont Mozart Festival. The von Trapp family estate in Salzburg, Austria had planned to open as a hotel in 2008, with the opening attended by Maria Franziska von Trapp. However, these plans were blocked by Salzburg city officials following complaints from local residents.[11]

Children

Name Mother Birth Death Notes
Rupert von Trapp Agathe Whitehead 1 November 1911[1] 22 February 1992 (aged 80)[3] 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.[6] He was a physician.[2][12]
Agathe von Trapp Agathe Whitehead 12 March 1913 (1913-03-12) (age 97) She works as a singer and an artist, and lives in Baltimore, Maryland. She has no children.[6][13]
Maria Franziska von Trapp Agathe Whitehead 28 August 1914 (1914-08-28) (age 95) She works as a singer and missionary in Papua New Guinea, now lives in Vermont, no children. In 2008 she visited the ancestral home.[6][14]
Werner von Trapp Agathe Whitehead 21 December 1915 11 October 2007 (aged 91)[12][15][16] He married Erika Klambauer in 1948 and had four sons and two daughters, including Elisabeth von Trapp.[4][6][17]
Hedwig von Trapp Agathe Whitehead 28 July 1917 14 September 1972 (aged 55)[15] She worked as a teacher, lived in Austria and died of asthma, no children.
Johanna von Trapp Agathe Whitehead 7 September 1919 25 November 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.[6]
Martina von Trapp Agathe Whitehead 17 February 1921 25 February 1951 (aged 30)[15] She married Jean Dupiere (who died before 1998) in 1949. She died of complications during childbirth and had a stillborn daughter.
Rosemarie von Trapp Maria Augusta Kutschera 8 February 1929 (1929-02-08) (age 81) Rosemarie worked as a singer and missionary in Papua, New Guinea. She most recently lived in Pittsburgh, and had no children.[6]
Eleonore von Trapp Maria Augusta Kutschera 14 May 1931 (1931-05-14) (age 78)[5] She married Hugh David Campbell in 1954 and has seven daughters. She lives with her family in Waitsfield, Vermont.[6]
Johannes von Trapp Maria Augusta Kutschera 17 January 1939 (1939-01-17) (age 71)[5] Married 1969 to Lynne Peterson and has one son, Sam von Trapp and one daughter. Johannes manages the family resort in Stowe, Vermont with his son Sam.[6][18]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k von Trapp, Georg. To the Last Salute: Memories of an Austrian U-Boat Commander. ISBN 0803246676. http://books.google.com/books?id=dOHuFPfh4uwC&pg=PR14&lpg=PR14&dq=January+10,+1911+von+trapp&source=bl&ots=56IPxINzk2&sig=lIYbGd7QFM8yjVvXWdVLdN2i72Q&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=5&ct=result. "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, ..." 
  2. ^ a b c d e 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, 1928– ; Eleonore, 1931– ; and Johannes, 1939–." 
  3. ^ 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
  4. ^ 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." 
  5. ^ a b c d "Petition for Naturalization". National Archives and Records Administration. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:MariaVonTrapp.jpg. Retrieved 2009-01-05. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Maria von Trapp, whose life was 'Sound of Music', is Dead". New York Times. March 29, 1987. 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." 
  7. ^ Sondhaus, Lawrence. The Naval Policy of Austria-Hungary 1867-1918. West Lafayette: Purdue University Press, 1994, pp. 366-67.
  8. ^ Idem.
  9. ^ "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." 
  10. ^ 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 the Captain was a heavy smoker.
  11. ^ "So long, farewell von Trapp hotel". BBC. December 3, 2008. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7763944.stm. Retrieved 2008-12-26. "The Austrian city of Salzburg has blocked plans to turn the former home of the von Trapp family, immortalised in The Sound of Music, into a hotel." 
  12. ^ a b Social Security Death Index as "Janice T. Vontrapp" 26 Jun 1920; 21 Dec 1994 (V) 05672 (Stowe, Lamoille, VT); 05672 (Stowe, Lamoille, VT) 169-14-4569; Social Security issued in Pennsylvania
  13. ^ "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" 
  14. ^ "Maria Franziska von Trapp returns to home that inspired The Sound of Music". The Telegraph. 26 July 2008. 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." 
  15. ^ a b c "Trapp Family Biography". Trapp Family Lodge. http://www.trappfamily.com/familystory/history.php?tid=156. Retrieved 2009-01-21. 
  16. ^ "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." 
  17. ^ "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." 
  18. ^ "Von Trapps Reunited, Without the Singing". New York Times. December 24, 2008. 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." 

External links

Further reading

  • Willam Anderson, David Wade, The World of the Trapp Family, 1998
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