Frederick S. Litten

(Freddy Litten)

Cover Notes on the Trapp Family in Austria

Notes on the Trapp Family in Austria

From Maria's grandparents to summer 1939

Norderstedt: Books on Demand, (April) 2023. xi, 319 p. ISBN: 978-3-7528-3507-6.
€ 29,- (fixed price in Germany)

Available at the BoD Shop (free shipping to many European countries possible) and from other online shops (e.g., amazon.com).

brief description

This study examines the real Trapp family in Austria until 1939. Using scores of contemporaneous sources, this fully referenced book introduces Maria (von) Trapp's own, hitherto unknown, family: the Kutscheras, the Reiners (Rainers), and her foster family, the Kramers. (None of them came from Tyrol.) Moreover, the first chapter critically analyzes Maria's tales about her childhood and youth up to her wedding with Georg (von) Trapp in 1927.
The second chapter covers Georg, his family, his activities in war and business, as well as the family choir started in 1934. Several misconceptions, from Georg having been a baron to his alleged anti-fascism, get corrected here, too.
The third chapter overturns the central myth of the Trapp family story: there is no evidence that the Trapps ever received offers from the Nazis, or resisted them; on the contrary, Georg unsuccessfully tried to solicit business in Nazi Germany. Nor were the Trapps in danger of persecution, or "escaped" from Austria.
Filled with details as well as context—and based on a very broad range of sources and literature—these three "notes" present a history of the Trapp family different from and much more reliable than anything available up to now, including the family members' memoirs.
(But please note that this book is not about the adaptations of the family's stories, such as "The Sound of Music", nor does it contain illustrations.)


Table of Contents

Preface v
0 Introduction 1
1 Maria – from her grandparents to her wedding 7
1.1 Maria's ancestors, paternal line 7
1.1.1 Josef Kutschera, Maria's paternal grandfather 7
1.1.2 Anna Rittner, Maria's paternal grandmother 12
1.1.3 Josef, Anna, and family – 1852 to 1867 13
1.1.4 Anna and family – 1869 to 1887 16
1.1.5 Karl Kutschera and Clara, née Reiner – 1887 to 1888 19
1.1.6 Jacques, Anna, and Maria Deininger – 1891 to 1902 23
1.1.7 Karl again – 1903 25
1.2 Maria's ancestors, maternal line 28
1.2.1 Katharina Hatzmann, Maria's maternal grandmother 28
1.2.2 Karl Reiner and his ancestors 30
1.2.3 Katharina Hatzmann – 1870 to 1873 38
1.2.4 Karl Reiner's ancestors, once more 39
1.2.5 Karl and Katharina Reiner and their daughters – 1873 to 1903 44
1.3 Maria – 1905 to 1915 48
1.3.1 Karl Kutschera and Augusta Reiner – 1903 48
1.3.2 Maria Reiner and Franz Mayer – 1904 49
1.3.3 Maria's birth – 1905 50
1.3.4 Digression: Maria and Tyrol 54
1.3.5 Augusta's death and the family – 1905 to 1906 56
1.3.6 The Kramer-Kutschera connection 59
1.3.7 The Kramer family 60
1.3.8 Maria's childhood and the Kramers – 1906 to 1914 64
1.3.9 Maria and her father – 1906 to 1915 68
1.4 Maria – 1916 to 1927 74
1.4.1 "Uncle Franz" and school – 1916 to 1919 74
1.4.2 Farewell to the Kramers and to Karl Kutschera jr. 77
1.4.3 Becoming a teacher – 1919 to 1924 80
1.4.4 And becoming religious again? – 19XX to 1924 86
1.4.5 Coming to Salzburg and Nonnberg Abbey school – 1924 to 1925 91
1.4.6 From Nonnberg to the Trapps – 1926 to 1927 97
1.5 Maria – the streamlined version 105
2 The Trapp family until early 1938 119
2.1 Family 119
2.2 War 127
2.3 Citizenship and titles 132
2.4 Business and finance 137
2.5 Music 145
2.6 Father Franz Wasner 154
2.7 Politics and patriotism 157
2.8 Summary: The Trapps until early 1938 165
3 The Trapps and Austria/Germany in 1938/1939 175
3.1 March to September 1938 – Maria's recollections 176
3.2 March to October 1938 – other family recollections 181
3.3 Analysis 187
3.3.1 The "flag incident" 187
3.3.2 The visit to Munich 188
3.3.3 The Vienna "invitation" to Rupert 190
3.3.4 The German Navy's "invitation" to Georg 194
3.3.5 Singing for Hitler? – The Trapps and Germany 198
3.3.6 Leaving "Austria" in 1938 211
3.4 Digression: The Villa Trapp – 1938 to 1948 219
3.5 1939: USA – "Austria" – USA 223
3.6 Synthesis 232
4 Afterword 239
References 241

Errata and supplemental information:
p. 87, line 4: the reference "[BL:250]" should read "[B40:250]".
p. 120, line 10: According to the birth register entries of her three children [M176; M177; M178], Emilie Friederike Hedwig Wepler, Georg's mother, came from Eisenach, in the Grand Duchy of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach. However, just as has often been claimed–including in my book–she was born in Schloss Wildeck near Obersuhl (located in Hesse-Cassel a.k.a. the Electorate of Hesse, not in the Grand Duchy of Hesse) as Emilie Friedericke[!] Hedwig Wepler. For confirmation see (Evangelische Kirche von Kurhessen-Waldeck): Tauf-Buch für die Gemeinde Obersuhl nebst Wildeck, Blumenstein, Libenz, Almushof und Schildhof [baptism register for the parish of Obersuhl, including Wildeck, Blumenstein, Libenz, Almushof and Schildhof], vol. 2, 1850-1869, p. 71, 1855, nr. 343. While Hedwig's father worked in Erfurt at the time of her birth, the family later lived in Eisenach, which likely explains the claim in the birth register entries of her children.
p. 240, middle of second paragraph should read: "In this context Georg and Maria were, sad to say, like rather ordinary Austrians, [...]".

Notice (10 January 2024):
Church register entries on Maria and her paternal family, listed for the first time in my book, have been used by someone in early January 2024 to make changes to the English Wikipedia article on Maria von Trapp, without my book being mentioned. However, that article and other Wikipedia articles (regardless of language) concerning the historical Trapps and the adaptations of their stories still contain quite a lot of erroneous, or dubious, information. (A minor example: Although reference is made to the birth and baptism register in the English Wikipedia text on Maria, she was baptized as Maria Auguste, not Maria Augusta, as claimed in the text and in the info box.)

28.1.2024