Austria plans to redesign Hitler’s house, instead of tearing it down

BRAUNAU AM INN, Austria, The three-story house where Adolf Hitler was born 117 years ago may be spared demolition and instead be dramatically redesigned.

The house in Austria where Adolf Hitler was born in 1889 might be dramatically redesigned, to change its appearance and stop it from being a neo-Nazi shrine, Austria’s interior minister said. Originally, Austrian Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka said the building would be torn down. Photo by Thomas Ledl/Wikimedia Commons

Austria’s interior minister originally told the daily Die Presse on Monday the house would be torn down because it had become a neo-Nazi shrine.

But on Tuesday, Wolfgang Sobotka told reporters it will be spared the wrecking ball and will instead be so thoroughly redesigned that it “will not be recognizable.” He said the main goal was to destroy its exterior appearance.Sobotka had said he was following the recommendation of a government-appointed expert commission.

But two members of the commission said the “demolition would amount to negating Austria’s Nazi past.”

“The demolition option had been explicitly mentioned in the proposal and was not approved by us,” said Clemens Jabloner, the former president of Austria’s highest administrative court, in a joint statement with historian Oliver Rathkolb.

Instead, the committee had suggested a “profound architectural redesign.”

The report said the experts were “against leaving an empty space instead of a building.”

“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,” the report said.

The house has been empty since 2011 when the government became involved in a dispute with owner Gerlinde Pommer, whose family has owned it for more than a century. The government pays about $5,300 a month in rent for the building.

Parliament’s home affairs committee submitted a petition Tuesday to seize the building in the national interest, as “no other historical property exists in Austria that holds such a special, global and political meaning.” The owner would receive undetermined compensation.

Hitler was born in a rented room on the top floor on April 20, 1889.

By Allen Cone