The Austrian government is set to turn Adolf Hitler’s birthplace into a human rights training facility for police officers. Austrian authorities have tiptoed over what to do with the 17th-century house in Braunau am Inn, near the German border, for several months after the government acquired the house in 2016.
Now, authorities have said the works to turn the home into a training centre incorporating a police station are expected to begin in autumn.
Four years ago, the interior ministry had announced plans to turn the building into a police station, in yet another twist to the debate over what to do with the uncomfortable building.
The estimated cost of the work has since skyrocketed to £17million (€20m). The initial budget for the project was £4.35m (€5m).
Under the latest scheme, building works are expected to be completed by 2025 with the police force moving in by the following year, according to Austrian broadcaster ORF.
Hitler was born in a rented room on the top floor of this building in 1889.
While the genocidal dictator paid little interest to his childhood residence, it was transformed into a shrine to Hitler during the Nazi regime.
As Nazis started losing control in 1944, it was boarded up.
Despite Hitler only living there for a few months, after the war the home returned to attract the attention of neo-Nazis and far-right wing supporters.
Providing an idea of the attraction the home was still exercising on neo-Nazis, Harry Buchmayr, a Social Democrat who lives in Braunau, previously told the Austrian Parliament: “It is not so seldom that neo-Nazis stop in front of the house to be photographed making the Hitler greeting.”
The Austrian government started renting the house from its former owner, Gerlinde Pommer, in the early 1970s in a bid to curb far-right tourism.
Among those who inhabited the building was a charity, which used it as a daycare for people with special needs.
But Mrs Pommer blocked future renovations while also refusing to sell the property.
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Following a long-running legal battle, the Austrian government seized the house from Mrs Pommer in 2016 in return for some £694,000 (€800,000) in compensation.
In that same year, a committee of experts said the house, should be demolished – but this drew fears of an international backlash, accusing Austria of denying its past.
Others argued the home should be used as a house of reconciliation or as the premises for a charity.
A memorial stone already existing in front of the house is to remain in place, with words reading: “For peace, freedom and democracy – never again fascism – remembering the deaths of millions”.
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