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Hitler's house in Austria set to become police station

The process of turning a house in Austria where Adolf Hitler was born in 1889 into a police station has begun after years of delays.


Work started Monday Oct. 2, 2023 on turning the house where Adolf Hitler was born in 1889 into a police station. Image AAP

Work has started on turning a house in Austria where Adolf Hitler was born in 1889 into a police station, a project meant to make it unattractive as a site of pilgrimage for people who glorify the Nazi dictator.


The decision on the future of the building in Braunau am Inn, a town on Austria's border with Germany, was made in late 2019. 


Plans call for a police station, the district police headquarters and a security academy branch where police officers will get human rights training.


On Monday, workers put up fencing and started taking measurements for the construction work.


The police are expected to occupy the premises in early 2026.


A years-long back-and-forth over the ownership of the house preceded the overhaul project. 


The question was resolved in 2017 when Austria's highest court ruled that the government was within its rights to expropriate the building after its owner refused to sell it. 


A suggestion it might be demolished was dropped.


The building had been rented by Austria's Interior Ministry since 1972 to prevent its misuse, and was sublet to various charitable organisations. 


It stood empty after a care centre for adults with disabilities moved out in 2011.


A memorial stone with the inscription "for freedom, democracy and liberty. Never again facism. Millions of dead remind us" is to remain in place outside the house.


The Austrian government argues that having the police, as the guardians of civil liberties, move in is the best use for the building. 


But there has been criticism of the plan.


Historian Florian Kotanko complained that "there is a total lack of historical contextualisation".


He argued that the Interior Ministry's intention of removing the building's "recognition factor" by re-modelling it "is impossible to accomplish".


"Demystification should be a key part," he added, arguing in favour of a suggestion that an exhibition on people who saved Jews under Nazi rule should be shown in the building.


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