Adolf Hitler’s Home Causing Controversy in Austria, Dispute Over Demolition Aimed To Curb Nazi Enthusiasts and Sympathizers

Controversy has erupted Tuesday over a plan by Austria to demolish the home where Adolf Hitler was born. Experts opposed shared their opposition to the plan only a day following the announcement of the decision.

A lengthy legal battle has ensued with the current owner of the home, and on Monday Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka stated that the listed property in the northern town of Braunau will be “torn down” to avoid it becoming a shrine to neo-Nazis. He also added that a building on the site will be used by a charity or by local authorities and shared that the decision was made based on recommendations from a committee of experts.

However, it’s been reported that a number of the panel of 13 members denied that the push to bulldoze the corner house where Hitler was born on April 20, 1889, was agreed upon.

Clemens Jabloner, the ex-president of Austria’s highest administrative court, released a joint statement with historian Oliver Rathkolb.

“The demolition option had been explicitly mentioned in the (government’s) proposal and was not approved by us…A demolition would amount to negating Austria’s Nazi past. “

The committee had suggested a “profound architectural redesign” instead, as the pair shared. In responding to the criticism raised, Sobotka said Tuesday that the main goal is to destroy any and all “resemblance” to the house that is known “especially its outer appearance.” Although the process may not involve a total demolition, it is an option, he told journalists.

The commission’s report shows that experts had, in fact, been “against leaving an empty space instead of a building.”

The Associated French Press relays additional details within the report.

“A complete transformation or removal of the building is in principle suited to erase the place’s ideological connotation and dissolve the emotional ties with Hitler. But… a historical contextualisation remains necessary.”

As the publication relays, the home which sits at 15 Salzburger Vorstadt Street, has been a “thorn in Austria’s side for decades,” despite Hitler only having spent the first few weeks of his life in the home. The home has drawn attention of “Nazi sympathizers from around the world since Hitler’s rise and fall.

Each year on Hitler’s birthday, a rally is organized by anti-fascist protesters outside the building next to a memorial stone that reads. “For Peace, Freedom and Democracy, Never Again Fascism, Millions of Dead Warn.” The property in the historic centre of town has been empty since 2011, at which point government became caught up in a dispute with the owner, Gerlinde Pommer.

Pommer’s family has owned the home for more than a century aside from a brief period during Nazi control. Austrian government signed a lease with Pommer back in 1972 and turned the home into a center for people with disabilities, yet this arrangement ended abruptly five years ago, when Pommer would not authorize her permission for the premises to undergo much-needed renovations.

The owner, who has become famed for her elusiveness and simply for owning the property that once was home to the notorious fascist, has also rejected a purchase offer by the government which has made for an even more tense situation for the interior ministry. In July, a legislation amendment was approved by government to seize the house from Pommer who still continues to make a profit of 4,800 euros, which amounts to around $5,300, in rent each month. On Tuesday, a debate in parliament is to take place over the expropriation bill, which does include compensation for Pommer. If a settlement isn’t reached, it could enter into force by year’s end.

Likely a difficult property to give up, the 800-square-meter home to Hitler has clearly been a hot topic for the Austrian government and residents of the region.

[Feature Image by Hulton Archive/Getty Images]