Hitler's Birth Home In Austria Will Become A Police Station

Nov 20, 2019

The home where Adolf Hitler was born will be turned into a police station, Austrian officials announced Wednesday, putting an end to a years-long debate over what to do with it.

The yellow, three-story building sits on a street in Braunau am Inn, a small medieval town on the northern border with Germany. A memorial stone sits outside with the inscription "For peace, freedom and democracy. Never again fascism. Millions dead are a warning."

The decision to convert the building into a police station was meant as a deterrent to those who would make it a neo-Nazi shrine.

"The future use of the house by the police should set an unmistakable sign that this building is permanently removed from memory of Nazism," Austrian Minister of the Interior Wolfgang Peschorn said in a statement.

Hitler was born on the building's second floor in 1889. During World War II, it was as an art gallery and library, a local historian told NPR. Later, the site was variously used as a bank, a school and a center for people with special needs.

Police will begin occupying the building in 2020, following a renovation.

The Austrian government told NPR in August that it would hold a competition to redesign the building. Interior Ministry spokesperson Gerald Hesztera said at the time that there wold be "an open competition for architects to see what they propose for the so-called Hitler house."

Architects from across the European Union are eligible to participate.

A memorial stone outside Adolf Hitler's birthplace reading 'For peace, freedom and democracy. Never again fascism. Millions dead are a warning.'
Kerstin Joensson / AP

"The proposals in the competition are intended to implement the recommendation of the interdisciplinary commission and, in the future, to integrate the building architecturally into the existing ensemble of the suburb in Braunau," a Ministry of the Interior statement said.

For years, the Austrian government rented the property from Gerlinde Pommer, whose family had owned the building for generations. In 2012, Pommer refused federal requests to make renovations, sparking Austrian efforts to take ownership of the building.

The country's government seized the building in 2017, prompting Pommer to file a complaint that eventually landed before Austria's highest court. The Supreme Court of Justice in Vienna ruled earlier this year that Pommer should receive 812,00 euros ($898,000) in compensation.

Paolo Zialcita is an intern on NPR's Newsdesk.

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