Georg Johannes Ludwig von Trapp

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Georg Johannes Ludwig von Trapp

Birthdate: (67)
Birthplace: Zadar, Općina Zadar, Zadar County, Croatia
Death: Died in Stowe, Lamoille County, Vermont, United States
Cause of death: lung cancer
Place of Burial: Stowe, Lamoille County, Vermont, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Commander August Ritter von Trapp and Hedwig von Trapp
Husband of Agathe von Trapp and Maria Augusta von Trapp, Baroness von Trapp
Fiancé of Princess Yvonne
Father of Rupert* Georg Ritter von Trapp; Agathe* Johanna von Trapp; Maria Agatha von Trapp; Werner Ritter von Trapp; Hedwig von Trapp and 5 others
Brother of Hede Rudolfine Saida von Trapp and Werner von Trapp

Managed by: Ric Dickinson
Last Updated:

About Georg Johannes Ludwig von Trapp

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.

Georg von Trapp Born April 4, 1880 Zadar, Austria-Hungary, now in Croatia.Died May 30, 1947 (aged 67) Stowe, Vermont, U.S

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 (pronounced Gay-Orgg) 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.

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. 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.

In 1894, von Trapp followed in his father's footsteps and entered the Austro-Hungarian Navy, entering the naval academy at Rijeka (Fiume). 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. 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: on duty aboard SMU-5 the following:-

   * The French armored cruiser Léon Gambetta at 39.30N, 18.15E on April 21, 1915, 15 miles south of Cape Santa Maria di Leuca
   * The Italian submarine Nereide at 42.23N, 16.16E on August 5, 1915, 250 yards off Pelagosa (Palagruža) Island

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 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, 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.

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. It was she who had christened the U-boat U-6, his first command. Sources conflict on whether the marriage took place in January 1911 or January 1912. (More recent information has marriage as March 1, 1912.)

Agathe's inherited wealth sustained the couple and permitted them to start a family. Their first child, Rupert von Trapp, 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, 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.

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. 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. 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. 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.

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. 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.

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. 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 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. 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 travelled to Norway to begin the trip back to the United States in September 1939.

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. 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.


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.


To The Last Salute

"The true story of Georg Von Trapp--in English for the first time! The Sound of Music is one of the most beloved musicals in America, but if you're a serious military buff, you'll want to read about the real Georg Von Trapp, a wily and inspiring man who commanded one of Austro-Hungary's seven submarines in WW I." (Warfare Catalog, The Military Book Club, Memorial Day 2007, p. 15).

Further Reference

  • To The Last Salute: Memories of an Austrian U-Boat Commander, by Georg Von Trapp, translated and with an introduction by Elizabeth M. Campbell. 224 pages.

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Georg Johannes Ludwig von Trapp's Timeline

April 4, 1880
Zadar, Općina Zadar, Zadar County, Croatia
November 1, 1911
Age 31
Pula, Istria, Croatia
March 12, 1913
Age 32
Pula, Istria, Austria-Hungary
September 28, 1914
Age 34
Zell am See, Salzburg, Austria
December 21, 1915
Age 35
Zell am See, Salzburg, Austria
July 28, 1917
Age 37
Zell am See, Salzburg, Austria
September 7, 1919
Age 39
Zell am See, Salzburg, Austria
February 17, 1921
Age 40
Klosterneuburg, Lower Austria, Austria