The Austrian government has been faced with a dilemma regarding what to do with the house where Adolf Hitler was born. In April 1889, Hitler was born in Braunau am Inn and with a recent resurgence in the numbers of Neo-Nazis activists and sympathizers in the country, the Austrian government fears the property will become a shrine of sorts.
Hitler was actually born in the then Austro-Hungarian Empire. His father was a minor official in the empire’s government. His childhood and teenage years were spent in rural Austria. His home life was far from happy. Hitler only moved to Germany, after failing to become an artist in Vienna. His family remained in Austria and some of his relatives continued to live in the old Hitler home, during and after the war.
The current owner of the house, Gerlinde Pommer, has refused the Government permission to undertake renovations at the property. The Government leased the property as far back as 1972 and used it as a centre of disabled people but it has been empty since 2011 when the Government and the owner had a dispute over the required renovations.
The Government is extremely concerned about the future of the property and is in the process of enacting a law that will ensure the title of the house passes to the government, with compensation to the current owner. This is an indication of the concern that they have that they house will become a Neo-Nazi site of pilgrimage.
Karl-Heinz Grundboeck, a spokesman for the interior ministry, told the AFP news agency, “We are currently examining the creation of a law, which would force a change of ownership and pass the property to the Republic of Austria. 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 [sympathisers].”
The government is traditionally reluctant to take over private property. However, it is an indication of the current state of the Neo-Nazi movement in the country and throughout Europe. They are keen to ensure that they are doing all they can to prevent the growth of extremism in the country and also for security reasons. If Hitler’s old home did become a shrine, it could become the site of Neo-Nazi demonstrations and these could easily become violent.
The spokesman made no mention of what will be done with the property once ownership passes to the state.