Julie Andrews Said She Could "Feel The Evil" When Visiting The Real Von Trapp House

Julie Andrews Said She Could "Feel The Evil" When Visiting The Real Von Trapp House

The house was occupied by Nazis and used by Heinrich Himmler as his summer residence until 1945.

Julie Andrews, Kym Karath, and Debbie Turner in The Sound of Music (1965) Source: IMDb

The Sound of Music is one of the most iconic films of its time and even to this day the musical is watched by many. The story chronicles the life of Maria von Trapp and the von Trapp family. Julie Andrews who played the matriarch of the real-life singing family recalled to BuzzFeed News that while they didn't film in the real von Trapp family's actual home when she visited the real place, it was an unsettling experience. "It wasn't until much later that I happened to visit the real villa where they actually lived," she said, recalling how she could "feel the evil that once permeated those walls." "Because after they fled the country, which they had to do, as in the film, [leading Nazi Heinrich] Himmler took over that villa, and the atrocities there were just terrible," she said. 

Portrait of the Baroness Maria Von Trapp (front, centre) singing with her children; (L-R) Johannes, Eleonore, Hedwig, Martina, Maria, Rosemarie and Werner, in London, circa 1950. (Photo by George Konig/Keystone Features/Getty Images)

The actual von Trapp family lived in the house from 1923 until they fled Austria in 1938. A year later, the “Missionaries of the Precious Blood” rented the villa, according to Villa Trapp. After a few months, the Nazis ended up occupying the site. As head of the paramilitary Schutzstaffel, or SS, Himmler was one of the main slaughterers and architects of the Holocaust. He used the Von Trapp house as his summer residence and the building was surrounded by barbed wire and a wall said to be built by conscripted slave labor. The place was surrounded by armed guards and barbed wire. Barracks for the SS were placed into the garden and one can even be seen today, serving to deliver radio messages to Berlin.


Today the house is the only original historic site where the real Von Trapp family lived and the public is allowed to visit the grounds. "What Himmler did here is a heavy weight on the house," Precious Blood Fr. Andreas Hasenburger, the rector of the Kolleg St. Josef, told the National Catholic Reporter. "But we are also proud to live in the von Trapp house, the house of the man who said no to the Führer." Georg von Trapp refused to fly the Nazi flag on his house, according to national archives, reports Cheat Sheet. He also declined a naval command and a request to sing at Hitler’s birthday party.


On a more personal note, the original Von Trapp family was upset at the portrayal of how harshly their father was portrayed in both the stage musical and the film. Captain von Trapp was said to be the softie, while Maria was the taskmaster and disciplinarian unlike on-screen. The family tried to persuade producers to soften Christopher Plummer's character, but couldn't, reports Refinery 29. Johannes von Trapp said in a 1998 New York Times interview, "it's not what my family was about. . . . [We were] about good taste, culture, all these wonderful upper-class standards that people make fun of in movies like Titanic. We're about environmental sensitivity, artistic sensitivity. Sound of Music simplifies everything. I think perhaps reality is at the same time less glamorous but more interesting than the myth."


Speaking of the real-life Maria, he added that she was ''a much more complex person, a more extreme person than Julie Andrews portrayed.''Everything she did was larger, louder, bigger, faster.  She was the sort of person who when she walked into a room, everyone stopped talking and looked at her."


His father died in 1947 of lung cancer at the age of 67 and while he was just 8 years old. ''My memories are of a huge man, very gentle, very kind. He always had high expectations. Even at that age I sensed that. The Sound of Music portrayed him as a martinet, and he really was not that. The whistle he used to summon the children was a convenience.''


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