Austrian Government Will Seize Hitler’s Birthplace to Discourage Neo-Nazi Pilgrimages

The Austrian government wants to conduct an "architectural rearrangement" of the site.

It’s official: the lower house of Austria’s parliament has authorized the compulsory purchase of Adolf Hitler’s birthplace, reports Reuters. The upper house is expected to approve the bill, which aims to resign the building in order to discourage neo-Nazis from making pilgrimages to the site.

Born on April 20, 1889 in the town of Braunau am Inn, near the German border, Hitler spent the first few years of his life at the three-story apartment building at Salzburger Vorstadt 15. A memorial stone on the sidewalk marks the site, and neo-Nazis are known to gather there, particularly on the anniversary of Hitler’s birth.

The government has been renting the building since 1972—the property has been vacant since 2011—but the current owner has reject previous efforts from the state to acquire it. Under the new bill, she will no longer have a choice.

Hitler's birthplace in Braunau am Inn. Courtesy of Michael Kranewitter, Wikimedia Commons.

Hitler’s birthplace in Braunau am Inn. Courtesy of Michael Kranewitter, Wikimedia Commons.

It’s unclear what exactly will be done to the structure, but interior minister Wolfgang Sobotka said it could be used for “charitable or official purposes” after a “thorough architectural rearrangement,” according to Reuters. This could involve a dramatic redesign, or the building could even be razed and completely rebuilt. Architects were invited in October to submit their proposals for the site’s transformation to a competition run by the government.

The debate over what to do with the property has been raging for years. In 2014, there was a plan to convert it into a museum denouncing the evils of Nazism. Others have advocated for a solution that would depoliticize the controversial site through its demolition and replacement with luxury residences.

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