Austria Wants to Seize Hitler's Birth Home

The vacant building, sometimes a Neo-Nazi hot spot, is proving quite a headache
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 11, 2016 1:07 PM CDT
Austria Wants to Seize Hitler's Birth Home
This Sept. 27, 2012 file picture shows Adolf Hitler's birth house in Braunau am Inn, Austria. Officials say they plan to try and expropriate the house where Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler was born in order to keep it from falling into the wrong hands.   (AP Photo / Kerstin Joensson,file)

In an effort to prevent the "increasingly decrepit" building from falling into further disrepair, Austrian officials say they plan to draft a law that would allow them to seize Adolf Hitler's birth home in Braunau, a quaint town of 17,000 on the German border, reports the New York Times. "The aim is to prevent the property from falling into the hands of neo-Nazis" who sometimes make pilgrimages to it, a journalist in Vienna tells NPR. "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 [sympathizers]," interior ministry spokesman Karl-Heinz Grundboeck tells AFP.

The building is owned by an aging and "reclusive" Gerlinde Pommer, reports Newsweek, who is a descendant of the family that has owned it for more than a century. (Hitler was born in the house on April 20, 1889.) But as a local historian told the BBC in 2014, Pommer "does not allow any changing of the house, so you can't rebuild any rooms, you can't build modern bathrooms or put in a lift." Though it has been empty since the last tenant moved out in 2011, the Austrian government still pays nearly $6,000 a month in rent. The building has recently been proposed as the site for a center for adult education, a museum, or even flats, reports the BBC, which notes that one Russian MP has offered to buy the house and blow it up. (Hitler largely ignored his birth home, visiting it just once during his reign.)

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