This story is going to need a little buildup before it starts going, so please bear with me. It will all become clear, eventually.
OK, so it wasn't ALL true, but it was mostly all true. Rodgers & Hammerstein had, it turned out, dramatized the departure from Austria and in reality it was no where near as exciting.
I was devastated by the realization that Hollywood had come very close to accurately portraying this story. If you can't trust Hollywood, of all institutions, to lie to you, who can you trust?
Those of you who have had enough of this story can stop right here. Those who want the details of this heartwarming and improbable story should read on.
You know what happens next.
Somehow the well known German soprano, Lotte Lehmann, had heard the family sing and suggested that they should start performing. The Austrian Chancellor heard them on radio and invited them to come to Vienna and give a performance. They were able to get a booking manager and agent and toured parts of Europe, the United States and Canada.
There was something unusually lovable and appealing about the modest, serious singers of this little family aggregation as they formed a close semicircle about their self-effacing director for their initial offering, the handsome Mme. von Trapp in simple black, and the youthful sisters garbed in black and white Austrian folk costumes enlivened with red ribbons. It was only natural to expect work of exceeding refinement from them, and one was not disappointed in this.To conclude the story, the National Socialists offered von Trapp a commission in the German Navy, but he declined. The way the Austro-Hungarian empire was broken up, the region that von Trapp was born in was now a part of Italy and thus he had Italian citizenship. The movie has them dramatically hiking out of Austria through the mountains, but in real life they took a train like normal people. Eventually they settled in Vermont and started a lodge which is still in business. Their descendents live in this country, so far as I know.
In conclusion, I think that this anecdote clearly demonstrates the importance of the study of the history of submarines, and its value in understanding American musical theatre.
Pictures of Captain Georg, Maria and one of his submarines.
The lodge that Georg and Maria started when they came to this country is still in business, see http://www.trappfamily.com/story
For more on the history of submarines in the navy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, see
Captain Ritter von Trapp wrote a short book on some of his experiences as a captain of a submarine. A Google Books preview is at