Austria attempts to seize Adolf Hitler’s birth house

Government wants to prevent the building becoming a neo-Nazi site of pilgrimage

 A stone outside the house in which Adolf Hitler was born,  in  Braunau on the Inn, Austria. Photograph: Dominic Ebenbichler/Reuters

A stone outside the house in which Adolf Hitler was born, in Braunau on the Inn, Austria. Photograph: Dominic Ebenbichler/Reuters

 

Austria’s government moved on Tuesday to seize the house where Adolf Hitler was born to prevent it becoming a site of pilgrimage for neo-Nazis, as the country’s interior minister said he wanted to tear the building down.

Hitler’s family lived in the house in Braunau on the Inn for only three years around the time of his birth on April 20th, 1889, but the fate of the three-storey building has long been the subject of controversy.

A spokesman for the interior ministry said the government had agreed a law to take ownership of the house after the building’s landlord had refused to sell it to the state. The bill would now go before parliament.

“The decision is necessary because the republic would like to prevent this house from becoming a ‘cult site’ for neo-Nazis in any way, which it has been repeatedly in the past, when people gathered there to shout slogans,” interior minister Wolfgang Sobotka told reporters before the cabinet meeting.

“It is my vision to tear down the house,” he said.

A commission consisting of 12 members from the fields of politics, administration, academia and civic society will ultimately decide the fate of the building.

A retired local woman owns the property, which Austria’s interior ministry has been renting since 1972 and has sublet to Braunau.

The ministry pays about €4,800 a month in rent.

House’s history

The building used to house workshops for disabled people, but has been empty since 2011, because the owner repeatedly rejected ideas on the future use of the house and purchase offers from the state.

Once the law has passed parliament, the owner has no right to appeal the decision or negotiate her compensation.

Nazi Germany annexed Austria in 1938.

Debate still smoulders over whether Austrians were willing accomplices or the first victims of a dictatorship that reduced much of Europe to ruins and cost tens of millions of lives.

Reuters