Hitler’s birthplace becomes police station to deter far-right tourism

Jill Petzinger
Jill Petzinger, Germany Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
A stone outside the house in which Adolf Hitler was born in Braunau am Inn, with the inscription 'For peace, freedom and democracy, never again fascism, millions of dead are a warning'. Photo: Dominic Ebenbichler/Reuters

The police will move into the house where Adolf Hitler was born in Austria to stop it from becoming a pilgrimage site for neo-Nazis.

Converting the house into a regional police station “will be an unmistakable signal that this building shall never serve to commemorate national socialism,” Austrian interior minister Wolfgang Peschorn said.

Hitler was born in the building in the town of Braunau am Inn in 1889, but the family moved to Passau in Germany when he was just one-year-old.

Over the years, the house had been put to various uses, including as a library and a centre for physically disabled people, but has stood empty for the last eight years.

However, Austria has struggled to decide on an appropriate use for the building to avoid it becoming a place of homage for neo-Nazis and other extremists, who come to visit the birthplace of the brutal dictator who became the leader of Germany in 1933.

Hitler started the Second World War in 1939, where more than 50 million would die, including more than six million Jews, who perished in the Holocaust.

In 2016, the Austrian government expropriated the house from its former owner, Gerlinde Pommer, who had inherited it in 1977, which started a long legal battle. An Austrian court ruled at the beginning of this year that the state must pay the owner €1.5m (£1.29m) for the property.

The interior ministry said it will run an EU-wide architecture competition to decide who gets to redesign the building, with the results expected in the first half of next year.

Germany has struggled with what to do with the many former Third Reich buildings and sites that dot the country, both to respect the victims of the Third Reich as well as to ensure they do not become destinations for far-right extremists.

Many of them have been turned into memorial sites to those murdered by Hitler, or put to other uses, such as the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, which is now the home of Herta football club.