Tag Archives: georg von trapp

Chapter 6

Something doesn’t make sense

The news that I wanted to share seemed not worth sharing,
now that the bombshell had been dropped about Rolf and this new movement that was gaining ground in Germany. How could I take my family back to Austria when this type of evil was starting to rear it’s ugly head? How could I even bring it up?

“Father?” Briggita asked,  “What did you and mother want to share with us?” Maria glanced over at me with that “Now what are we going to do?” look. I looked back at her, not sure how to reply. “I received a letter the other day from none other than Rolf. As you know, I have not communicated with him since that last night in the Abbey. In the letter, he said that our old home had fallen into disrepair and that the owners wanted to leave it to us in their will. I also received a phone call from the U.S. Ambassador to Austria asking if I would be returning to Austria as the owners of our old home had willed the home to us after their passing. This confirmed what Rolf had written in his letter. Your mother and I wanted to come to meet with all of you to ask if you would be interested in returning, if not just to visit, our old home in Austria, but what Brigitta and Larz just shared puts a whole different tone on this opportunity. Something is not making sense. It seems too much of a coincidence that Rolf and Mr. Grunwald from the Embassy would contact me almost at the same time.”
Georg von Trapp thinking

Everyone looked at me in disbelief while I explained the events of the last couple of days. “Dad, that is fantastic. We have to go back!” Gretl exclaimed. “How many people just leave you a house? I would love to go back. The issues in Germany are not in Austria……” “Don’t ever say that!” I shouted, “Don’t even think that.” You know what that kind of thinking did to Austria. We never thought that it would come to us, then friends and neighbors jumped on the bandwagon thinking that Anschluss would be a good thing for Austria.
Austrian citizens saluting Hitler
The one thing that history teaches us is that man does not learn by his past mistakes.” Gretl looked back knowing that she had hit a nerve as Kristen shrank back in her seat, hating these conversations that she had hoped would never return. “I think that we should investigate why the U.S. Ambassador is involved as well as let me do some research when I return to work on Monday” Larz said. “Sometimes when something seems too good to be true, many times it is. I’m hoping that these are just coincidences. I would also like to see what Rolf Gruber has been doing all of these years and why he felt the need to write to you knowing that you would have found out about our old home anyway through the normal channels.”

Maria spoke up, “I’m just glad that Liesl isn’t here to experience this, God rest her soul. She would have been heartbroken once again. I for one do not want to expose our children and families to any sort of danger again. Once was enough.”
“I agree Maria,” Georg said, “but something has been calling me back to that night in the Abbey and I can’t quite put my finger on why. In Rolf’s letter, he said that Leisl had contacted him right before we went on stage for the concert and that he wanted to help us escape and now you tell me that Rolf is one of the masterminds of this new movement. Something does not make sense Larz, something is missing.” “I agree with you Georg. There are just too many coincidences. Does anyone else know about this?” Larz asked. “Only your mother and the rest of you here.” I replied. “Let’s keep this to ourselves while I do some investigating. In the meantime, let’s eat dinner. Brigitta has worked hard to fix us one of our favorite Austrian meals.” Larz said with pride. “Maria, let’s have some music. We don’t want your accordian to go to waste!” I said as the younger children came in from playing football in the yard. “Oh no, not accordion music!” one of the grandkids complained. Almost on cue, everyone let out a laugh just in time to break the tension in the room.

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Chapter 5

This can’t be happening

I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to put my thoughts together so that when the family was gathered, I would sound confident and in charge as usual. The problem was that I was not feeling confident and in charge. This was an unexpected call with many questions, and I didn’t have answers at this point. This was going to be more of a discussion with the family to find out how they felt about going back to Austria if only to visit our old home. “Maria, how does this look?” as I modeled my outfit, crisply ironed, complete with my Edelweiss Miesbacher Jacket. traditional men's austrian jacket
“Georg, you look wonderful, a perfect outfit for this evening,” Maria said as she finished buttoning up her Austrian Dirndl dress. As I was admiring how beautiful she still looked in her Dirndl, I replied “Maria, you haven’t changed a bit. You wearing that takes me back to earlier times when the children were so young.” We hadn’t worn these outfits in quite a while.

austrian ladies dress

We used to wear them quite frequently when we met guests at the lodge, but now we rarely brought them out of mothballs. We both felt that tonight was an appropriate time to wear them. Neither of us had spoken much about the letter and phone call, but we must have both been feeling the same way to wear our traditional Austrian outfits to Brigitta’s house.

“Do you think that your mom and dad have a clue as to what we want to speak with them about?” Larz asked Brigitta. “No, and I don’t think that the rest of the family has any clue either.” Brigitta replied.  “I think that we should have talked to them about this earlier Larz. It’s just not right to have kept this from them since you found out, and to tell them at dinner.” “You know why I couldn’t talk to your mother and father about this, especially your father and the way that he feels about this whole thing.” Larz retorted defensively. “I know, I’m just not sure how it is going to all go down tonight. I pray that everyone keeps a level head.” Brigitta said trying to deescalate the conversation. “Well, once it is out in the open, we can at least discuss it. I am going to go downstairs and finish getting dinner ready for the family.” Brigitta said as she left the room.

“Kurt, do you know why Brigitta invited all of us over for dinner?” Kristen asked. “No, I really don’t. She sounded excited and nervous at the same time when she invited us over. I’m sure it’s nothing. They probably have a ski trip planned and want us all to go with them.” Kurt replied, trying to hold back an uneasy feeling about it all. The last thing he wanted to do was to get Kristen nervous about the evening. She was wonderful with the family except when the times that father became irritated over something that struck a nerve. Typically that nerve had to do with any conversation regarding the politics that led up to the second World War.  I had made the mistake of reminding Georg that Adolf Hitler had been born in Linz Austria, something I dared not repeat. “Whatever it is, I’m glad they are feeding us!” I said as my stomach started growling.

Georg grabbed his jacket as he headed for the green Willy.
georg and maria von trapp in willyMaria followed Georg as she found an unknowing employee to carry her accordion for music that she hoped she could enjoy that evening. As they headed to Brigitta’s home, they both said, almost at the same time, “I think we should take the family back to Austria, if nothing else, just to visit our old home.” “Georg, I was hoping that you were going to share that news this evening. I can  barely stand the excitement!” Maria exclaimed.
The trip to Brigitta’s seemed like it took an eternity, even though they only lived 4 miles away. As we finally pulled into the driveway, I noticed that the rest of the family had already arrived. A few of the older kids were out on the front lawn throwing a football. “Hi opa, hi oma. You two look wonderful in those outfits!” Karl said as he threw the ball to Walter. “Danke Schoen Karl. Wie gehts?” I asked knowing that at least he understood a few German phrases. “Danke gut,” Karl replied knowing that I would be proud to hear him respond in my native tongue.

As I entered the house with Maria and her accordion toting “servant” close behind, I noticed that all of my children and their spouses were sitting in the large living room. It appeared that Larz had been busy scrounging around for extra chairs so that everyone could have a seat. Strange, as I figured that everyone would be in the kitchen drinking a nice glass of Gewurztraminer along with Brigitta’s signature Bavaria Blue Cheese Mousse with Gooseberry Chutney. This concerned me a bit as this put a different tenor in the evening.

“Now that father and mother are here, I figured that it would be best to let you know why we invited all of you this evening.” Brigitta began. Curious looks arose from the family with every cilia in their ears on end to finally find out what the big mystery was. Before Brigitta could finish, I jumped in, not wanting to downplay what had happened only a day or two before. “Your mother and I also have news to share as well, but Brigitta, continue.” Larz jumped in and picked up where Brigitta had left off. “As you are all well aware, my connections within international banking allows me to catch wind of anything that might affect the markets. Knowing our ties to Austria, my boss came to see me on Friday. Typically he is pretty upbeat, but this day he had a concerned look on his face as he shut the door to my office. He told me to have a seat and that he had heard from his Austrian counterpart in Vienna that there was a small grassroots movement that was beginning to gain traction within the alpine town of Berchtesgaden in Germany. “What kind of movement Larz?” I asked, almost afraid to hear the answer. “They are calling themselves the NPD or National Democratic Party of Germany.
NPD banner
It sounds nice and civil doesn’t it? My boss told me that they have been described as a neo-Nazi organization. and is referred to as the most significant neo-Nazi party to emerge after 1945.” My heart sank as my mind went back to 1937 and the rumors of what was happening in Germany started to fill the minds of fellow Austrians, thinking that being annexed by Germany was a good thing. “This can’t be happening! Surely both Germany and Austria will not put up with such a felonious group!” I shouted. “There is more.” Brigitta spoke up. “Larz has just found out that this whole movement has supposedly been spearheaded by someone that we know, or at least knew.” “Who is it, Brigitta?” Georg demanded.
His name is ……..Rolf,  Rolf Gruber.”

I sank back in my chair. The dreams that I had been having had now just become a living nightmare.

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Chapter 3

I Do Hope Someday

I had barely hung up the phone with Maria when the phone rang again. I picked up the phone, “Von Trapp here.” I answered in my usual formal tone. “Mr. Von Trapp, this is Henry Grunwald,  U.S. Ambassador to Austria. I’ve been asked to call you on behalf of the Austrian government. I know that you and your family moved to the United States many years ago. Since you left Austria and later sold your home to the “Missionaries of the Precious Blood,” we thought that would be the end of your involvement with Austria, but the missionary society moved into a nearby building, selling the home to a Viennese family, the Torbergs. They did not have any children and decided to leave the property to you and your family in their will.

It was true, what was in Rolf’s letter was confirmed. Just then, Maria walked in with a puzzled look on her face. I held up my hand to let her know that I was on an urgent call. She put her bags down and waited for me to finish the call. “Mr. Von Trapp, the Austrian government wants to know if you will be moving back to Austria. ” I was shocked at the question. Move back to Austria? We had been in the United States for over 50 years. We were settled. Would Maria even consider it? “Mr. Grunwald, I will have to discuss this with my wife and family. This is very sudden. I need to let this sink in.” I replied. “Ok, I will let the Austrian government know that I have spoken with you and that you will get back to them. Have a good day sir.” He hung up, and I just sat there holding the phone. “What is it, Georg? You look as if you have seen a ghost.” Maria said.

Georg holding Rolfs letter - I Do Hope Someday

“You are not going to believe what has happened today.” I handed her Rolf’s letter to let her read it. She opened it and started reading. With only reading the first few lines she seemed to lose strength in her legs and quickly took a seat on the couch to continue reading. “Can you believe this Maria? A letter from Rolf and the explanation that we have been asking questions about for half a century.” As she finished reading the letter, I could see that her eyes were moist from tears that had welled up over the words she had just read. “Georg, is this true? Could this be even possible?” I looked at her with a blank stare. “To top this, I just got off the phone with a Mr. Grunwald, U.S. Ambassador to Austria confirming what you just read. He said that the Austrian government wants to know if we plan on moving back to Austria!” Instead of being shocked, Maria hugged me with tears streaming down her cheeks. “Georg, I hope this is not a cruel joke. This is what I have been hoping and dreaming for since we fled Austria and let the home go to the Mission. I know that you were so upset with what happened during the war that I never even brought it up all these years. Our home is where I met you and the children. I feel as if the mountains have been calling me home for fifty years.” “Yes, I was upset to put it lightly, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t ever think about Austria. We have a business here in Vermont. We have grandchildren, roots here in America. How can we pack up and leave?” I replied. “Oh Georg, can’t we at least go to Austria, settle the will and go visit our home? I would love to take the children back. It’s been so long since they were there. I want to call them and tell them what has just happened.” Maria said excitedly. “NO! I shouted. This is not a nice little family vacation. This opens up deep wounds for all of us. How can I even look at Rolf after what I believed about him all these years? The pain is too great.” as I walked out of the room into my study. Move back to Austria. Was he out of his mind? The memories of a half-century ago flooded my mind as I remember sneaking out of my home that evening long ago. I thought that we would never see our home again.

Liesl - I Do Hope Someday

As I sat there with my thoughts, I gazed upon Liesl’s picture on my desk. Just then I remembered her question to me that evening, “Will we be coming back here?” My answer to her cut me deeply, “Someday Liesl, I do hope someday.” Now that someday had returned, and I had a tough decision to make. Looking at her picture, missing her so much, I spoke to her as if she was in the room. “Liesl, I don’t know if I can do this.” as tears began to well up in my eyes.

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Chapter 1

Daydreams aren’t always pleasant

“Put that down.”
“Not another move or I’ll shoot.”
“You’re only a boy. You don’t belong to them.”
“Stay where you are.”
“Come away with us. Before it’s too late.”
“Not another step. I’ll kill you.”
“You give that to me, Rolf. -Did you hear me?”
“I’ll kill you.”
A Nazi soldier holding a gun.
I moved closer to grab the gun. Bang! The Luger fired right as I was grabbing the barrel. The hot molten lead pierced my chest. It was as if someone had drained all of the energy out of me as I fell to my knees. “Georg! Maria screamed.” She came running from behind the fenced in crypt area.
“I didn’t mean to…..the gun just went off!” Rolf insisted.
Everything was getting darker and darker as I felt the blood running down my chest onto the cemetery floor. How could it end this way? We were so close to escaping the horrors that were descending upon Austria.

“Georg, I’m going into town. Do you need anything?” Maria said as she woke me from my afternoon slumber on the front porch of our Vermont home.  “No, I don’t believe so, thanks” I replied. As Maria left, I slowly came back to the present. This wasn’t the first time that I had this dream. I always woke up right after the feeling of life was leaving my body. I was getting tired of this dream, and now it seemed as though I was having this dream more often. It had been so many years since we left Austria, our home, our country and our way of life that we had known for so many years. We left Austria due to the Anschluss of the two countries and the Nazi occupation of Austria. We had never returned. Don’t ask me why. I had never even applied to become a citizen of our new home, the United States; my heart was still in Austria. Each year that passed, the more I longed to return to Austria if nothing else to see what had become of my beloved homeland since the war was long over. What happened to our home? How about the convent that my wife left? Did either of them survive that awful war? So many questions and very few answers.  It’s the answers that eluded me. I had plenty of questions. Time wasn’t on my side as I found it harder and harder to get around due to arthritis that had taken its toll on my body. I felt as though time was ticking away and my desire to return was becoming more of a recurring thought, just like this bad dream.

My phone rang, waking me from my daydreaming of Austria. “Hi, father,” Brigitta said on the other end of the phone. “We  were wondering if you and mother would be interested in coming over to our place Saturday night.” “I imagine we could. Is there a particular reason that you wanted us to come over?” I asked. “No, not really, John and I have both been discussing something, and we wanted to run it by you and mother.” “You aren’t thinking of moving to that retirement community in Florida that we visited with you last year are you?” I said thinking that was the reason for the invitation. “No, not at all. we want your opinion on something that we were going to do and wanted to see if you and mother would be interested as well.” “Oh well, ok, I will ask your mother when she returns. Love you.” I replied with relief. They had been talking about moving to Florida since both of them had retired earlier that year. They wanted to leave the cold winters of Vermont behind now that their kids were on their own. I couldn’t believe that my children had grandchildren. Where had time gone? I felt very blessed, though we had lost our beloved Liesl 3 years prior. That was a tough time for both Maria and me. I’m not sure that I would have recovered if it had not been the love and support of our other children. Maria and I were very fortunate to have such a close family. For many years we all toured the United States as the Trapp Family Singers until the children wanted to pursue their futures and not live in the shadows of another life that we once enjoyed. Our family lodge in Stowe was still going, although we had left the daily running of this to Kurt who was much younger than Maria and me. He was more than glad to answer the myriad of questions about the family.
A hotel in Austria.

Suddenly, I heard the top of the mailbox slam as the postman delivered his daily stack of junk mail with a few interspersed pieces of fan mail from those that had stayed at our lodge. I got up from the chair on the porch and walked around to where the mailbox was. With the advent of email, I wondered why people still bothered with mailing letters. It was probably due to the same reason that I went to the mailbox each day; a thing of habit. As I leafed through the mail, I tossed the junk mail in the wastebasket inside the doorway that was placed conveniently there for such things. In the middle of the stack of mail, there was an actual piece of mail that looked like a letter. The handwriting on it had a sort of strange writing on it. Some of the letters looked like the writing of friends that we still corresponded with in Austria. My heart leaped as I enjoyed anything from our homeland. I quickly turned the envelope over and tore it open. I unfolded the letter, and the first sentence hit me like a hot poker. I couldn’t read the next sentence or the next word. I fell over into the chair next to the doorway. It was as if my dream had suddenly just forced it’s way out of the recesses of my mind and grabbed me by the throat. How could this be? How could I have this dream only a little while ago and now my assailant was here again, but instead of a Luger, he had wielded a pen. My heart was racing instead of bleeding, but the mental pain was just as real as my dream. I opened the letter again, now that I was sitting down and began to read where my life had almost ended over 50 years ago.

“I never meant to pull the trigger. You have to believe me. I’m sorry Captain Von Trapp. If you will only let me explain why I am writing and why I never contacted you since that night you left Austria………”

Read Chapter 2

 

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