Hitler impersonator arrested in Nazi dictator's home town

VIENNA • Austrian police have arrested an Adolf Hitler lookalike spotted wandering around the Nazi dictator's home town, sporting his infamous moustache and side parting.

The 25-year-old Austrian national was detained on Monday in his flat in the quaint northern town of Braunau am Inn, where the Nazi leader was born on April 20, 1889.

The man was arrested under a 1947 Austrian law that made it illegal to promote Nazi ideology.

Police spokesman David Furtner said: "It was obvious that he glorified Hitler."

The authorities became aware of his existence after photographs emerged on social media of the man posing outside Hitler's birth house, a large yellow corner house in the town's historic centre. Other pictures showed him standing in a Braunau am Inn pub dressed in traditional garb including a loden jacket.

According to local media reports, the copycat introduced himself to patrons as "Harald Hitler" and insisted on being served "Austrian mineral water".

The suspect, who offered no resistance during his arrest, had moved to Braunau am Inn last month, the police said.

The case once again puts the spotlight on Braunau am Inn, a town of 17,000 on the German border that has repeatedly made headlines because of its historical ties to Hitler.

Most recently, it drew attention after the government in December expropriated the dilapidated building where Hitler came into the world.

The move followed years of wrangling with owner Gerlinde Pommer, who had been renting the premises to the Interior Ministry since the 1970s and refused to sell or carry out essential renovation work.

The government said the seizure had been necessary to stop the building from becoming a pilgrimage site for Nazi sympathisers.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 15, 2017, with the headline 'Hitler impersonator arrested in Nazi dictator's home town'. Print Edition | Subscribe