Indecision over what to do with Hitler’s birthplace

The house in which Adolf Hitler was born still remains standing in the Austrian town of Braunau am Inn, and the town has never come to a decision about what to do with it.

Hitler was born in 1889 in the small town on the Austrian-German border. During the late 1930s, when Hitler was in the prime of his leadership and war broke out, the town and the house he was born in became a pilgrimage site for devout Nazi followers.

When the war ended, American soldiers were defending the area and captured Nazi troops who were heading to the town to demolish the house. But this means the house has been left standing ever since.

Many of Braunau am Inn’s residents would like the town to be known for other things, rather than Hitler’s birthplace. Further, the house remains a constant reminder for the local people about who was born there and the evil he undertook more than 70 years ago.

The three-storey building remains empty and the Austrian government has been struggling to determine what to do with it. The house is privately owned, but the Austrian government rents it. The government has put forward an offer to buy the house or dispossess the current owner if an agreement cannot be made.

Gerlinde Pommer is the current owner, who inherited the house from her family who originally built it. Hitler’s parents had rented one of the apartments in the building in the 1880s.

In the past, the house has been a museum, school and library. For more than 30 years until 2011 it was used by a charity running workshops and assistance for the disabled. But ever since the charity vacated the building the government has not yet found a solution.

One Braunau residents has suggested refugees live in the house. He says that the town doesn’t need the house, so why not put it to good use.

Meanwhile a historian from Innsbruck has suggested making the house the location of an international collaboration for peace. He says that there were no crimes committed at the house, nor was it used by the Nazis, so it should be used for a good cause and the opposite to what fascism stands for, The New York Times reports.

The majority of significant Nazi buildings were demolished at the end of the war, either by the Germans or Allied and Soviet forces. The chancellery buildings in Berlin and the Berghof in the Alps were all destroyed and this is still a popular choice for Hitler’s birth place.

Some German politicians have said that the house should be demolished, or used so that it doesn’t become a pilgrimage site for neo-Nazis.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE