Austria approves plan to turn Hitler's birthplace into a police station

The Austrian building where Adolf Hitler was born in 1889 will finally be turned into a police station after a yearslong back-and-forth over the ownership and use of the building.

Authorities presented the winning architectural plan Tuesday that will “neutralize” the Braunau am Inn home and make it unattractive as a pilgrimage site for people seeking to glorify the Nazi dictator.

“It is the most appropriate use (for the building). Why? The police are the protector of fundamental rights and freedoms,” Interior Minister Karl Nehammer said during a news conference announcing the winning design by architect firm Marte.Marte. “Police officers in training see themselves as partners of citizens and as those who protect freedom, the right to assembly and freedom of speech.”

This Sept. 27, 2012 file picture shows an exterior view of Adolf Hitler's birth house, front, in Braunau am Inn, Austria. The birth house of Adolf Hitler will become a police station Austrian interior minister Karl Nehammer said, as he presents the redesign of the building at a news conference in Vienna Tuesday, June 2, 2020. 

This Sept. 27, 2012 file picture shows an exterior view of Adolf Hitler's birth house, front, in Braunau am Inn, Austria. The birth house of Adolf Hitler will become a police station Austrian interior minister Karl Nehammer said, as he presents the redesign of the building at a news conference in Vienna Tuesday, June 2, 2020.  (AP)

Its design beat 11 competitors in an interior ministry tender. The refurbish is expected to be complete around the end of 2022 and will cost around $5.6 million.

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There is very little to indicate that the relatively modest three-level building was once home to the boy would become the leader of the Third Reich, trigger World War II, and carry out the Holocaust.

An engraved rock on the pavement says “Fascism never again” without mentioning Hitler by name.

Austria’s interior ministry began renting the building in 1972 to various charitable organizations to prevent its misuse. It stood empty after a care center for adults with disabilities moved out in 2011.

In 2017, Austria’s highest court ruled that the government was within its rights to expropriate the building after its owners refused to sell it. A suggestion it might be demolished was shelved, and the government announced in November that police would use the building.

“The neutralization of this whole location was ultimately at the heart of this result,” Interior Ministry official Hermann Feiner said.

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Unlike Germany, Austria has long denied any responsibility for Nazism, portraying itself instead as its first victim due to Hitler’s annexation of his homeland in 1938. However, at the time, many Austrians enthusiastically supported the move.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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