Austria Turns ‘Baby Hitler’s’ Birthplace into Police Station to Fend off Nazi Admirers
The building where Adolf Hitler was born, and “baby Hitler” spent the first few months of his life, in the small town of Braunau am Inn, Upper Austria, is going to be turned into a police station by Austria’s government as a means of deterring Nazi supporters and neo-Nazi tourism.
The fate of “Hitler’s birthplace” located at 15 Salzburger Vorstadt in Braunau am Inn, a town of 17,000 people in Austria’s province of Upper Austria (Oberoesterreich), has been a thorny issue for the Austrian authorities over the possibility that it might turn into a Nazi cult site or a “pilgrimage site” for Hitler admirers and far right supporters.
After the end of World War II, the birthplace of “baby Hitler” has been used as a library, a care center for disabled people, and a technical school. One of the options for the building at 15 Salzburger Vorstadt in Braunau am Inn, which has been seriously considered by the present-day Austrian authorities, is tearing it down.
Hitler’s birthplace, however, is now going to be transformed into a regional police headquarters, the Austrian government has announced.
“The future use of the building by police will be an unmistakable signal that this building shall never serve to commemorate National Socialism,” Austrian Interior Minister Wolfgang Peschorn said in a statement on Tuesday, as cited by DW.
Nazi supporters have actually been traveling to Braunau am Inn in order to take photos in front of the building where Adolf Hitler was born, according to local witnesses cited by German news agency DPA.
Before the Austria police are able to move into the 17th century building at 15 Salzburger Vorstadt in Braunau am Inn, however, the Austrian government is holding an EU-wide architectural tender to redesign the building and outer facade.
The winner of the contest is expected to be announced in the first half of 2020, Austria’s Interior Ministry has announced.
The decision of the Austrian authorities to turn the first home of “baby Hitler” into a police station has become possible after a prolonged legal battle with the house’s previous owner, Gerlinde Pommer, which ended only in August 2019 with a ruling of the country’s Supreme Court in favor of the government.
In early 2017, the government expropriated the building of Hitler’s birthplace but the previous owner filed a compensation suit.
As per the 2019 Supreme Court ruling, the Austrian government has had to pay Pommer a compensation of EUR 810,000 (app. USD 900,000).
Prior to that a court in the town of Ried found that Pommer was due more in damages, and awarded her a compensation of EUR 1.5 million (app. USD 1.7 million) but the original decision was overturned by the Regional Court of Linz, with Austria’s Supreme Court in Vienna eventually upholding the latter’s ruling.
Adolf Hitler established and ruled Nazi Germany in 1933-1945, leading it into World War II, which killed some 60 million people worldwide, and the Holocaust, which claimed the lives of 6 million Jews and other minorities.
He was born on April 20, 1889, in a rented apartment on the top floor of the 17th century building at 15 Salzburger Vorstadt in Braunau am Inn, the province of Upper Austria, on the border with Germany.
“Baby Hitler’s” family lived there for several weeks as his father had been sent to the town for work. Subsequently, the family moved to a different address in the same town, before moving to Passau in Germany when Hitler was 3 years old.
Hitler visited the building in Braunau am Inn in 1938 on his way to Vienna, after he annexed Austria to Nazi Germany.
After the Nazi’s came to power and Nazi Germany seized Austria in the so called Anschluss, Hitler’s birthplace was turned into what has been described as a fascist cult center.
Austria’s Parliament voted back in 2016 to requisition the property so the country’s government could take measures to preempt its becoming a neo-Nazi pilgrimage site. In the five years prior to the parliament’s decision, the building had stood derelict after then owner Gerlinde Pommer resisted plans to make it wheelchair friendly as a day-care center for disabled people, and then kept rejecting government offers for a voluntary sale.
In 2014, there was an unsuccessful proposal to turn Hitler’s first home into a center for refugees.
Austria’s Interior Minister Wolfgang Peschorn points out that the architectural competition to refashion Hitler’s birth home would “prevent any renewed form of National Socialist activities.”
In front of the building at 15 Salzburger Vorstadt in Austria’s Braunau am Inn, there is the Hitler’s Birthplace Memorial Stone, a memorial to the victims of the Nazis.
The Hitler’s Birthplace Memorial Stone was inaugurated in April 1989, two weeks before the centenary of Hitler’s birth. The stone came from a quarry in the former Mauthausen Concentration Camp near Linz.
The inscription on the memorial stone, known formally as “Memorial Stone against War and Fascism”, and informally as “Mahnstein” (“Memory Stone”), reads (translated from German into English),
For Peace, Freedom
Never Again Fascism.
Millions of Dead Remind [us]”.