In the climactic scene of “The Sound of Music,” the von Trapps flee Salzburg, Austria, under the cover of night and hike across the surrounding mountains to safety in Switzerland. Had they scaled the Alps in real life, however, the von Trapps would have crossed into Nazi Germany, not neutral Switzerland, which was approximately 200 miles away.
“Don’t they know geography in Hollywood? Salzburg does not border on Switzerland!” complained Maria von Trapp after seeing the film. “In Hollywood, you make your own geography,” came the reply from the film’s director, Robert Wise, according to author Tom Santopietro’s new book, “The Sound of Music Story.”
In actuality, the eldest von Trapp child was not 16-going-on-17-year-old Liesl, but Rupert, who was born in 1911 and a practicing physician by the time the family fled Austria in 1938. Liesl wasn’t even Liesl. In the film, all the names of the von Trapp children were changed
When they fled the Nazi regime in Austria, the von Trapps traveled to America. Their entry into the United States and their subsequent applications for citizenship are documented in the holdings of the National Archives and Records Administration.