Austria wants to seize Adolf Hitler’s birthplace

The town of Braunau am Inn, Austria Photo: wagon16

Austria is planning to seize Adolf Hitler’s birthplace in an attempt to prevent the home becoming a shrine for neo-Nazis.

Hitler was born in Braunau am Inn (pictured above) in 1889 and lived in the property on Salzburger Vorstadt for a matter of weeks, before moving to another street in the same town. At the age of three, his family moved away completely. Nonetheless, the property has gone on to become a local symbol of the Nazi Germany leader’s life.

The home has been owned by Gerlinde Pommer, a local resident, for more than a century, reports the Associated Foreign Press, with the government leasing the property from her in 1972 to turn it into a centre for people with disabilities. In 2011, though, a dispute between Pommer and the government over renovation works saw the lease come to an end, leaving the home to stand empty ever since.

The government’s Interior Ministry has already made an offer to purchase the home outright, but Pommer refused. In the meantime, debate within the country has seen calls for it to be used for a variety of purposes, as well as demolished altogether. The home, however, is part of the city’s historic centre and is therefore under heritage protection.

The property itself is unmarked, with no mention of Hitler, save for a memoiral stone outside that reads: “For Peace, Freedom and Democracy. Never Again Fascism, Millions of Dead Warn.”

Officials are concerned, though, that the property could become a shrine for Nazi sympathisers, and so they are considering a plan to seize the building.

“We are currently examining the creation of a law, which would force a change of ownership and pass the property to the Republic of Austria,” Interior Ministry spokesman Karl-Heinz Grundboeck told the AFP.

“We have come to the conclusion over the past few years that expropriation is the only way to avoid the building being used for the purposes of Nazi [sympathisers].”

The plan would include an offer of compensation from the state to Pommer. There has been no confirmation on what the government would do with the property once seized.