Owner of Hitler’s Childhood Home Fights Seizure by Austrian Government

Her lawyer argues that there are no grounds for expropriation.

Hitler's childhood home in Braunau am Inn, Austria. Photo courtesy Johannes Simon/Getty Images.
Hitler's childhood home in Braunau am Inn, Austria. Photo courtesy Johannes Simon/Getty Images.

The owner of the apartment building where Adolf Hitler spent the first three years of his life is suing the Austrian government to contest the expropriation of the property, which she owned for decades before it was seized this month.

From 1972 to 2011, Gerlinde Pommer rented the building in Branau-am-Inn, a small town on the Austrian-German border, to the Austrian interior ministry. In 2011, the government proposed a renovation plan, which Pommer rejected, ending the rental contract.

In response, the Austrian parliament voted to expropriate the building, reverting it to full state ownership, in December 2016. Now, Pommer has filed a legal complaint against the seizure, a representative from the constitutional court confirmed on Monday. The filing argues that the law which allowed the seizure of the property is not constitutional.

“To put it bluntly, the standard legal requirements for an expropriation are missing,” said Pommer’s lawyer, Gerhard Lebitsch, to the Kurier, translated by Deutsche Welle.

The memorial stone outside Hitler's birth house in Branau am Inn, Austria. Photo courtesy Johannes Simon/Getty Images.

A memorial stone outside Hitler’s birth house in Branau am Inn, Austria. Photo courtesy Johannes Simon/Getty Images.

Lebitsch explained to the Viennese newspaper that more than just the house is implicated in the property seizure; the building occupies 500 of the 1600 square meter site, while the rest contains a garage and parking spaces. He also noted that the government has not indicated a concrete future plan for the building.

Since 2011, there have been talks of turning the house into a museum, or demolishing it altogether. In the hands of the state, either could happen, but Pommer continues to fight for ownership.

The yellow-painted apartment building is known worldwide for being the birthplace of Hitler, and continues to attract both Neo-Nazi pilgrimages and anti-Fascist protesters. Outside lies a memorial stone with words which translate as: “For peace, freedom, and democracy. Never again fascism, millions of dead warn.”


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