Hitler house to be a home for disabled charity - BBC

Austrian MPs voted to expropriate the home where Adolf Hitler was born (above).
Austrian MPs voted to expropriate the home where Adolf Hitler was born (above).PHOTO: AFP

Adolf Hitler's birthplace will be used as the base for a disability charity, after a law was passed in Austria allowing the house to be seized.

The house will be offered to Lebenshilfe, a charity which supports people with learning difficulties, said a BBC report.

Austria's Parliament passed a law on Wednesday (Dec 14) allowing it to seize the house following years of controversy.

Owner Gerlinde Pommer had repeatedly refused to sell the dilapidated, yellow, corner house in Braunau am Inn, or allow renovations.

Since 2011, she had been locked in a dispute with federal authorities over the 8,600 sq ft property, refusing a string of offers from the government to purchase it.

There had been calls for it to be pulled down to prevent it becoming a shrine for neo-Nazis.

But on Thursday (Dec 15), Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka - who had previously said he wanted to see it demolished - Braunau mayor Johannes Waidbacher and provincial governor Josef Puehringer met and decided to keep the building, said the BBC.

In a statement, the three said keeping it standing would be "a life-affirming message" and "a clear symbol against the crimes committed by Hitler".

Mr Puehringer added that destroying the structure where the Nazi dictator was born in 1889 would have fuelled accusations of "tearing down a piece of burdensome history".

Instead, officials want to remodel the property's facade to eliminate its draw, and are offering it to charity Lebenshilfe.

The building had previously been used by the charity as a day centre and workshop for people with special needs.

But they were forced to move out several years ago when Mrs Pommer blocked renovations.

The former inn remained empty for many years, while the government paid Mrs Pommer a generous rent in an attempt to prevent the three-storey building being used as a site for neo-Nazi tourism.

Hitler was born in a rented room on the top floor of the building, near the Austro-German border, on 20 April, 1889.

During Nazi rule, the house was transformed into a shrine to Hitler as the town drew in a wave of tourists.

But as the Nazis began to lose control in 1944, it was shut up.

Locals say it still attracts neo-Nazi sympathisers to Braunau am Inn, despite the efforts of local authorities to prevent this.

Mrs Pommer will now be given compensation, says the BBC.