Hitler's birthplace to be destroyed to prevent neo-Nazi pilgrimages

The house in which Adolf Hitler was born is seen in the northern Austrian city of Braunau. © Dominic Ebenbichler
The house where Adolf Hitler was born will likely be demolished, the Austrian government has announced. The move is partly aimed at eliminating the home’s significance for neo-Nazis who visit the site to pay homage to the German Nazi dictator.

The country’s Interior Ministry said the demolition of the house in the western Austrian town of Braunau has been recommended by a government-appointed commission.

“A thorough architectural remodeling is necessary to permanently prevent the recognition and the symbolism of the building,” Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka said on Monday, as quoted by AP.

The demolition would see the construction of a new building with no association to Hitler, and Interior Ministry spokesman Karl-Heinz Grundbock said only the foundation would remain.

A statement from the ministry said the commission had advised against leaving the site empty, which could be interpreted as an attempted “denial of Austrian history.”

Sobotka said he could imagine the site being used to house government or social agency offices.

The demolition will still have to be formalized in legislation and voted on in parliament. However, the passage is likely to be a mere formality, as the center-left Social Democratic Party and center-right People's Party – both of which support the demolition – together command a majority of seats in parliament.

It comes after the government launched formal legal procedures against the home's owner earlier this year to seize the property after she repeatedly refused to sell or allow renovations which would reduce its symbolism for Hitler's admirers. 

The Interior Ministry statement said it plans to finalize the draft law to make the house state property ahead of a vote in parliament by the end of the year.