1905-1987: The real Maria von Trapp


The real Maria Von Trapp with Julie Andrews



You may be puzzled by the amount of children that appear in the photos; this was because there were actually ten von Trapp children not seven, which was portrayed in the Hollywood film ‘The Sound of Music’. Baron Georg von Trapp had seven children with his first wife who died in 1922 and later, three children with his second wife Maria.

Another discrepancy from the film that is highlighted by these photos is the date at which Maria and the Baron first met – the wedding photo you see was taken in 1927. Eleven years before the Nazis annexed Austria not, as depicted on screen, just before the Nazis took control of the country.


Although the large family’s departure from Austria was less dramatic than the Hollywood film would suggest, their journey is no less commendable. Not only did Georg von Trapp refuse to fly the Nazi flag from the family’s house and declined a naval command, he also refused a request for his family to sing at Hitler’s birthday party in 1938, the risk of reprisal was the spark that led them to leave Austria. After their departure they became refugees paying for their passage between European countries by utilising their singing abilities for paying audiences. 

Maria Von Trapp's declaration of intent

As the Declaration of Intention shows, the family finally settled in Vermont where they bought a farm. From 1950 onwards guests were invited to stay in what became known as The Trapp Family Lodge. The Alpine-style lodge is still owned and run by members of the von Trapp family with screenings of The Sound of Music for all Lodge guests every Thursday.


Trapp Family Lodge

BBC documentary – Climbed Every Mountain: The Real Story Behind the Sound of Music.


  • The Story of the Trapp Family Singers, Maria Augusta Trapp (1949)
  • Maria: My Own Story, Maria Augusta Trapp (1974)
  • Memories Before and After The Sound of Music, Agathe von Trapp (2003)

About The Author

Avatar of Sophia
Assistant Curator

Sophia joined the Retronaut team as a researcher in 2014. After graduating from Liverpool in 2013 with a BA in Ancient History, she moved to London and now works at Bletchley Park as a volunteer archivist. From test shots of Lauren Bacall to space suits for dogs, working for Retronaut means that Sophia can keep exploring the moments where history, culture and photography collide.

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