Work began Monday to turn the house in Austria where Adolf Hitler was born in 1889 into a police station, a project intended to make it unattractive as a place of pilgrimage for people who glorify the Nazi dictator.
The decision on the future of the building in Braunau am Inn, a city on the border between Austria and Germany, was made at the end of 2019. The plans include a police station, a district police headquarters and a section of the police academy security where police officers will deal with human rights training.
On Monday, workers assembled the fence and began taking measurements for the construction work. It is expected that police will occupy the premises in early 2026.
A years-long back and forth over ownership of the home preceded the renovation project. The matter was resolved in 2017, when Austria’s highest court ruled that the government had the right to expropriate the building after its owner refused to sell it. Suggestions that it might be scrapped have been dropped.
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The building had been rented by the Austrian Ministry of the Interior since 1972 to prevent its misuse and was sublet to various charitable organisations. It remained empty after a care center for adults with disabilities moved in 2011.
A commemorative plaque with the inscription “for freedom, democracy and freedom. No more fascism. Millions of deaths remind us of this” is to stay away from home.
The Austrian government argues that the best use of the building would be the arrival of the police, guardians of civil liberties. But there has been criticism of the plan.
Historian Florian Kotanko complained that “there is a total lack of historical contextualization.” He argued that the Home Office’s intention to remove the “recognition factor” of the building by remodeling it “is impossible to achieve”.
“Demystification should be a key part,” he added, supporting the proposal to hold an exhibition in the building about the people who saved Jews under Nazi rule.