After years of bitter legal wrangling, the Austrian government announced plans Monday to demolish the house where Adolf Hitler was born and replace it with a new building in efforts to erase any link to the Nazi dictator's birthplace.
Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka said in an exclusive interview with Austrian newspaper Die Presse the Hitler house in the western town of Braunau will be torn down. He said the new structure “will be used thereafter by either a charity or the local authorities."
Sobotka said he wants to ensure any association with Hitler be eliminated and to prevent Hitler's birthplace from becoming a kind of "pilgrimage [site] and memorial" for neo-Nazis.
The owner had repeatedly refused to sell the building. It is unclear whether she changed her mind or if the government dispossessed her.
Sobotka said “a thorough architectural remodeling is necessary to permanently prevent the recognition and the symbolism of the building.”
Die Presse provided the following information about the house:
- Hitler was born in the house in Braunau, at "Salzburger Vorstadt 15" on April 20, 1889, but the family moved elsewhere in the town a few weeks after his birth.
- In 1938, Hitler’s confidant Martin Bormann bought the building at a high price. The Nazis rehabilitated the house and established a "cultural center" there.
- By the end of World War II, Nazis tried to blow up the building, but Americans entered the town before such plans were materialized.
- In 1952, the original owner’s family bought the house back and a library was set up. Afterwards, a school, a bank and a technical institute rented the rooms until it became a home for the disabled, but they moved to more modern homes in 2011 because the owner did not agree to the necessary accommodation changes of the house.
- In 2012, there were plans to demolish the house. Russian politician Franz Klinzewitsch wanted to buy the building and demolish it, but nothing went through, since the house was under monument protection as a building from the 17th century.
- Negotiations about selling the house to the Austrian Republic had failed. The house is empty and needs a general renovation. The owner nevertheless earns money from it, because the Ministry of the Interior and the town of Braunau pay their monthly rent of 4,700 euros.