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A good vs. bad tear-jerker with a happy ending was the 1965 movie The Sound of Music, adapted from a 1959 Broadway musical of the same name. The lyrics are those of Oscar Hammerstein II and the script is penned by Ernest Lehman.

Richard Rodgers, left, and Oscar Hammerstein in 1956

Richard Rodgers left, and Oscar Hammerstein II in 1956

Hammerstein’s movie became the highest grossing film in the history of filmmaking.  Julie Andrews plays Maria Von Trapp and Christopher Plummer takes the part of Baron Von Trapp. The movie is touted as a true story but like Anne Frank and Swindler’s List, the Sound of Music is embroidered fiction.


At least Hammerstein and Lehman did manage to get the name right. Hallelujah! Maria’s family name was Maria Augusta Kutschera.  As a small child, the waif was taken into care as consequence of her father’s neglect.

As the youngster matured she contributed to her upkeep by carrying out menial tasks. Eventually, the teen made her way to Salzburg where the Benedictine nuns of Nonnberg Abbey took her in.


Upon reaching maturity Fraulein Maria Kutschera was sent to the estate of Baron Von Trapp. The widower, 20 years her senior, interviewed Maria for a job as a tutor for his seven children.  The stopover soon became leg-over and romance blossomed. The couple were married on November 27, 1927, and Maria added two daughters to the family brood.


In 1932 the Von Trapp family fell on hard times through the baron’s financial ineptitude. As Hitler’s NSDAP had not yet been elected in neighbouring Germany bankruptcy was an outcome of baron-buggery rather than Nazi skulduggery.

The fiscally challenged von Trapp family was reduced to singing for their suppers as street entertainers. Hallelujah again, a priest heard their melodic refrains and he invited the family to perform in churches and so the Von Trapp Choir was formed.


In 1938, the choir performed at the celebrated Salzburg Festival which is still today the biggest classical music festival in the world. What you are not told is that the National Socialists originated this annual musical feast.

Contrary to what the movie tells you, at the 1938 festival the Von Trapp family performed in theatres, squares and along the banks of the Salzach River. The von Trapp family was assisted by the Brownshirts and respected despite the toffee-nosed aristocratic refusing to respect the United Reich’s national flag.

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There was much for Austrians to celebrate. On April 10, 1938, the Austrian electorate was invited to vote for or against unity with Hitler’s Reich.  4,443,208 (99.73%) voted in favour of unity with Hitler’s Germany.

Gordon Brook-Shepherd, the eminent British writer, wrote: “Most foreign observers present in Vienna accepted that the polling had been free from any intimidations.”

Why did the von Trapp family leave their homeland?  The Jewish made movie claims the family were exiled by their rejection of National Socialism. Not true: Being a Swiss citizen the job hunting aristocrat found his ambitions thwarted by the new Germans First policy in seeking employment. Thus, the baron was an economic and not a political refugee.


There was no escape over the Alps as the family were hapless at hiking. Had they departed according to the movie’s script they might easily have ended up at the Fuhrer’s mountain retreat at Obersalzberg. The family departed by conventional means.

Fate intervened when one of the sons was introduced to a New York producer (ahem). It was agreed that the Von Trapp Family Choir would try to win over American audiences with their religious music but they were unsuccessful.

Down to just $50, the Von Trapp family added yodelling to their singing repertoire. The brood also adapted American folk songs and by 1941 had achieved some popularity. By the war’s end, the Von Trapp family had become solvent and were able to purchase a 7,000-acre ranch in Stowe, Vermont. There the baron passed away peacefully in 1947. None of the von Trapp family ever saw their homeland again.


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This news story draws on scenes from different productions of The Sound of Music.



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