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Hitler’s birth house will become a police station to keep neo-Nazis away

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Austria has started work to turn the yellow-brick house where Adolf Hitler was born into a police station, in a long-running attempt to prevent the building from becoming a pilgrimage site for neo-Nazis.

After decades of back and forth on the ownership and fate of the dictator’s birthplace in Braunau am Inn, near Austria’s border with Germany, the Austrian government expropriated the building in 2017. The Ministry of the Interior then announced plans to turn it into a law enforcement hub, including a human rights training center for police officers.

Photos and video showed workers putting up fencing on Monday and preparing for the construction work, which is expected to last some two years. Police are due to move into the building in 2026.

Activists and critics have welcomed the move to transform the site but opposed plans to turn it into a police station. Some have called for the building’s demolition, while others suggest it should become a memorial or exhibition space.

The memorial stone outside the property is expected to remain, with the inscription: “For freedom, democracy and liberty. Never again fascism. Millions of dead are a warning.”

Since the end of World War II, Austria has sought to distance the inconspicuous building, where Hitler was born in 1889, from his legacy.

When the government announced plans for the remodel in 2019, Austria’s then-interior minister, Wolfgang Peschorn, said the decision “should send an unmistakable signal that the role of this building as a memorial to the Nazis has been permanently revoked.”

German museum makes time slot for non-White visitors — and gets right-wing backlash

Austrian officials previously said the redesign would help stem concerns that the house could become a “cult site,” as it has drawn visitors in the past who glorified Hitler. During Nazi rule, the party reportedly used it as a cultural center.

But it has remained the subject of debate over how to confront the past.

Austria ponders the fate of the house where Hitler was born

Erich Marschall, who took part in an initiative opposing the police station plan, told Reuters that authorities should have consulted more with Braunau residents about the property’s future use.

Filmmaker Günter Schwaiger, who has released a documentary about Hitler’s birthplace, told Deutsche Welle that “a conversion to a police station is completely the wrong signal,” describing it as “a slap in the face of the victims.”

The government rented the house from its longtime owner for decades after World War II. It was used more recently by an organization supporting disabled people, until 2011, when the owner’s refusal to make renovations to the property left it abandoned.

The country’s constitutional court backed a government decision in 2017 to seize the house, and authorities later invited architects to present plans for the makeover. The coronavirus pandemic delayed the redesign, which has been estimated to cost about $20 million.





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