The 17th century house in Braunau-am-Inn, Austria, where Adolf Hitler was born, will not be demolished, and will instead continue to be used for a mental health charity as before, the Austrian government has announced.
The building was recently ordered seized after a lengthy dispute with its owner, and earlier it had been decided to tear down the structure completely.
According to a report in the Austrian Krone newspaper, the building will be “rehabilitated” and used for “social purposes,” it was decided after a meeting this week between three Austrian Peoples’ Party (ÖVP) politicians, Josef Pühringer, head of the Upper Austria provincial government, Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka, and the town’s mayor, Johannes Waidbacher.
Instead of being destroyed, the Oberösterreichische Lebenshilfe (Upper Austria Life Help) charity, which provides sheltered employment and help for mentally-impaired people, will once again be granted occupation of the building. Previously, the charity had used the building as a daycare center.
“After a detailed discussion, we decided not to tear it down,” Pühringer told the media after their meeting, adding that the decision had been taken because they felt they would have been too heavily criticized for “tearing down a chapter of weary history.”
A working group consisting of representatives of the Ministry of the Interior, the state of Upper Austria, and the city of Braunau is to be set up in early 2017 and to clarify all legal and organizational questions by the middle of the year.
This approach is in accordance with the recommendations of an expert commission set up by the Ministry of the Interior which had also advised a “far-reaching architectural transformation to remove the building’s recognition value and thus its symbolic power.” It is still unknown if the latter recommendation is going to be acted upon.
Hitler’s connection with the house is tenuous. At the time of his birth, the building was a modest guest house, where his parents rented rooms in connection with his father’s job as a minor customs official at the nearby Austrian–German border. The Hitlers lived in the building only until Adolf was three years old, when his father was transferred to Passau.
The hysteria over anything even remotely to do with Hitler has long plagued the establishment. In 2012, they even went as far as removing the tombstone of his parents in Leonding village, near Linz, about 75 miles away from Braunau.