Austria has announced that a human rights training center with a police station will be established in the birthplace of Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler in Braunau am Inn, the British newspaper The Guardian wrote on its website.
Located near the German border, the elegant XVII. century building was purchased in 2016 by the Austrian government with a forced purchase order following a long legal battle. Hitler was born on the top floor of the house in a rented room in 1889. The building would be converted into a training center that would also house a police station. The costs of this are expected to be around twenty million euros. The works will begin in the fall, the local authorities informed.
The decision – which was preceded by a consultation with a committee of experts – was received with mixed feelings in Austria. The committee ruled out demolishing the building, as well as turning it into a memorial house. According to a recent poll, the majority of Austrians were against establishing a police station in the building. According to 53 percent of the respondents, a museum dealing with the topics of National Socialism, anti-fascism, tolerance and peace should be created in the building. 20 percent supported the demolition of the house, and only 6 percent were in favor of the authorities taking the building into use.
Demolition was ruled out on the grounds that it would cause a negative international reaction and would be interpreted as Austria denying its Nazi past. Authorities also feared that if the building became a public meeting place, it would risk becoming a pilgrimage site for the far right. The house has been vacant since 2011. Its last owner was evicted by court order after the authorities failed to reach an agreement with him. He later received more than 800,000 euros in compensation.
The renovated building is scheduled to open in 2026. The memorial stone in front of the house – which reads “For peace, freedom and democracy – no more fascism – in memory of the deaths of millions” – will remain in place. Although Hitler only lived in the building for a few months, it became a place of pilgrimage during the Nazi era and attracted many tourists to the city. It was boarded up after the war. Successive governments have made significant efforts to prevent the house from becoming a far-right tourist attraction.