As Seen in “The Sound of Music,” Did the Von Trapps Escape the Nazis by Hiking Over the Mountains?


In The Sound of Music (1965), the Von Trapp family famously escapes the Nazis at the Salzburg festival and, with a little automotive sabotage assistance from Maria’s friends at the Abbey, successfully escape over the Swiss alps to freedom. In reality, they just walked a few blocks from their home to a train station and boarded a train. Their family and friends were all informed they were leaving beforehand, and the departure was well-planned. Their real escape doesn’t hold quite the same cinematic impact as the family trodding over the mountains, suitcases in hand.

Traveling with their musical conductor, Rev. Franz Wasner, and secretary, Martha Zochbauer, they went by train to Italy in June, later to London, and by September were on a ship to New York to begin a concert tour in Pennsylvania.

Salzburg is only a few miles from the Austrian-German border, a great distance from the Swiss border - much farther than anyone could walk. Plus, if they had actually traversed the mountains depicted in the film, they would have ended up in Obersalzberg, the mountain retreat of a fellow called Hitler.