Members of the press were left reeling Thursday after the United States Marine Corps band played the song "Edelweiss" from the "Sound of Music" as reporters were being led into the White House for a presidential briefing on the Mueller report.
The band, which plays at the White House for special events was, apparently, running through a classic movie themes medley, and played "Edelweiss" as part of a retrospective that included "The Sound of Music" — the theme song from the musical — "Over the Rainbow" from "The Wizard of Oz," and "When You Wish Upon A Star" from Disney's "Cinderella."
But it was "Edelweiss" that got attention.
“Edelweiss” was being played as we walked into the @WhiteHouse— Nikki Schwab (@NikkiSchwab) April 18, 2019
Schwab, who is a Washington, D.C., reporter for the New York Post, pointed out that the song was being played as part of a repertoire, and that it's not clear the White House has any control over what the Marine Corps Band plays as background music.
I’m not sure how much the administration dictates what the (Marine Corp?) band plays. “The Sound of Music” was also played, which is part of the same musical as “Edelweiss.”— Nikki Schwab (@NikkiSchwab) April 18, 2019
But Maggie Haberman, the White House reporter for The New York Times, apparently saw an ulterior motive. "Does...anyone at that White House understand the significance of that song?" she tweeted.
Does...anyone at that White House understand the significance of that song? https://t.co/IK9h8fOwNj— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) April 18, 2019
It appears that Haberman is convinced the White House is subtly suggesting that the White House is simply overrun with Nazis, and that "Edelweiss" is somehow identified with Nazi Germany. What a connection!
There's just one problem: the song doesn't have much significance at all — and certainly not to the Nazi party. It was written by Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein III, exclusively for the 1959 musical, "The Sound of Music," and it was composed specifically to showcase the talents of Theodore Bikel, who played the show's male lead, Captain Georg von Trapp.
And Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote it specifically for Theodore Bikel, who originated the role of Captain von Trapp on stage. Bikel was an Austrian Jew whose family fled Austria in 1938.— Dan McLaughlin (@baseballcrank) April 18, 2019
In the stage version, "Edelweiss" is played only once by Captain von Trapp as a "resistance" type song about how he will miss the beauty of his homeland when it is annexed by the Nazis ahead of World War II. In the movie version of the musical, the song is played twice — once as a folk song by Captain von Trapp, and a second time by the full cast, led by Captain von Trapp, as a protest against Nazi officials.
A version of the song, again sung as a resistance anthem, is used as the theme for the Amazon series, "The Man in the High Castle," a science fiction show where the characters move through alternate history timelines, including a main timeline where the Nazis won World War II and control much of the United States. In that show, too, it's used as a resistance anthem, and the woman singing the theme is clearly in terror.
Haberman's followers were divided between being utterly convinced that "Edelweiss" is a Nazi song, and being amazed that she'd never seen "The Sound of Music."
Do tell, Maggie pic.twitter.com/IZqneXpwl6— Eddie Zipperer (@EddieZipperer) April 18, 2019
Haberman did not let on exactly what she believed the "significance" of the song was, but seemed to defend her classification in a conversation with Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief, Ben Shapiro.
I’m sure Trump hand picked it so everyone would quickly make the Nazi connection. Nefarious! https://t.co/f88fJbwFIw— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) April 18, 2019
So you're going with no, then. https://t.co/Zxi2V4bxDg— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) April 18, 2019
What are you going with?— Steve Krakauer (@SteveKrak) April 18, 2019
Reporting.— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) April 18, 2019