Austria’s Ministry of the Interior plans to convert Adolf Hitler’s childhood home into a police station, The Guardian reported. The move is intended to discourage the building from becoming a site for pilgrimage for Hitler’s fans.
Hitler was born in 1889 in Braunau am Inn, a town in what was once part of Austria-Hungary. He lived there with his family for only a few years before they moved to Passau, Germany.
The structure in which the future Nazi dictator was born is now a nondescript, pastel building that in no way stands out from its surroundings in the town. Indeed, the only thing that calls attention to its history is a small stone monument in front.
“For Peace, Freedom and Democracy. Never Again Fascism. Millions of Dead Remind [us],” the inscription reads, according to a translation from German via Google Translate.
Since 1972, the Austrian government has rented the building from its owner after officials decided that placing it in government hands could potentially ward off vandalism or other misuses. Indeed, over the past few decades, it’s been sublet to various charities. Its most recent use was as a care home for adults with developmental disabilities. However, the organization moved out in 2011, and the building has sat empty since.
Starting in 2016, the government took full control of the building, and a subsequent 2017 ruling decreed that the government could expropriate the building after its owner refused to sell it.
Initially, the government planned to demolish it, but those plans were shelved. Instead, the administration solicited architects to come up with a plan for the building, and 11 plans were then put under consideration.
Ultimately, the Interior Ministry decided on a proposal submitted by the architecture firm Marte. The plan intends to convert the building into a police station.
In doing so, officials hope to make the building less attractive so some who might be inclined to turn it into a pilgrimage site to honor the man behind the murder of millions of Jews during the Holocaust.
Karl Nehammer, the interior minister, noted that turning the building into a police station could possibly raise eyebrows.
“Some people might ask, is this the right use for this, putting the police in there?” he asked rhetorically.
He went on to note that turning the building into a police station juxtaposes it with Hitler’s legacy.
“The police are the guardians of basic liberties and freedoms. Police officers in training see themselves as partners of citizens and as those who protect freedom, the right to assembly and freedom of speech,” he said.
The plans for the building’s refurbishment include modernizing it without fundamentally altering its structure or appearance. The renovations are expected to cost about €5 million ($5.58 million).