Austrian officials have a novel idea for preventing Hitler’s old house from becoming a pilgrimage destination for neo-Nazis: turn the building into a police station.
The house where the notorious Nazi Party leader was born in 1889, in the Austrian border town of Braunau am Inn, has been under government control since 2016. But now they can turn it into something else, after a lengthy legal battle with the owner over compensation ended this year.
“The house’s future usage by the police should set a clear signal that this building will never be a place to commemorate Nazism,” Austria’s interior minister, Wolfgang Peschorn, said in a press release Tuesday.
Austria ended up paying the previous owner nearly $900,000 for the house where Hitler was born. Though the German chancellor spent very little time there, it's still drawn regular visits from modern-day Nazis.
"The handling of Adolf Hitler's birthplace in Braunau am Inn has been a challenge for the Second Republic for more than 70 years, especially in connection with the history of the Third Reich in Austria," the Interior Ministry said in a statement, via CNN.
The fate of the property has been in dispute for years. For a time, it was a center that helped disabled people, but that stopped when the owner refused to make the building more accessible. A plan to turn the building into a refugee center never came to fruition. By 2016 — when the building finally under government control — there were plans to demolish Hitler’s former home. But that didn’t happen as well. All told, the building has been empty for around eight years.
Even the new plan to convert the building into a police station could take some time. The Interior Ministry plans to have an EU-wide architectural competition to redesign the house. A winner won’t be announced until next year.
Cover: 18 July 2018, Austria, Braunau am Inn: Adolf Hitler's birthplace. Photo by: Lino Mirgeler/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images