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Hitler’s birthplace to turn into a police station

Posted November. 21, 2019 07:32,   

Updated November. 21, 2019 07:32


The building where Nazi leader Adolf Hitler was born in Austria will be turned into a police station after 130 years of dispute amid rising concerns that it is becoming a shrine to far-right extremists.

BBC and other news outlets said on Tuesday that the Austrian government has decided to turn Hitler’s former house in Braunau am Inn into a police station. Against this backdrop, It is also expected to launch an EU-wide architecture competition this month to decide the design.

The fate of the property has been the subject of a dispute in Europe. Hitler was born on April 20, 1889 in a 17th-century apartment. His family stayed at this house before moving to a different town three years later. Hitler returned briefly in 1938, on his way to Vienna, after he annexed Austria to Nazi Germany.

As these words spread, the far-right extremists including neo-Nazis started flocking to the property, prompting the Austrian government to stop the neo-Nazi tourism by taking the ownership of the building.

The Austrian government had rented the property since the 1970s, turning the space into a center for people with special needs in 2011, but this public-private partnership ended when Gerlinde Pommer who owned the house for nearly a century declined all government renovation requests and offers to sell the property. In the end, the Austrian government took possession of the house in 2016 by enacting a law that allowed it to make a compulsory purchase for a price of 810,000 euros.

There has been fierce debate over the fate of the building even after it was taken into government control. Some have called for it to be demolished to condemn Nazi’s atrocities, while others argued it should be used for charity work or as a house of reconciliation. However, Austria has come to an agreement to transform it into a police station. “It would be an unmistakable signal that the property did not commemorate Nazism” said Austria’s Interior Minister Wolfgang Peschorn.

Youn-Jong Kim zozo@donga.com