Austrian architects to transform Hitler’s birthplace into a police station

Austrian architects to transform Hitler's birthplace into a police station

Written by Oscar Holland, CNN

Austria has come up with plans to transform Adolf Hitler’s birthplace into a police station, after years of debate and legal disputes on the controversial site.

The three-story building at Braunau am Inn near the German border will undergo a substantial renovation that authorities hope will prevent it from becoming a pilgrimage site for Nazi sympathizers.

Hitler was born in a department of the building on April 20, 1889, while his father worked as a customs official in the city. The family left Braunau am Inn, which was part of Austria-Hungary, when Hitler was three years old.

Plans to turn the site into a police station were first announced last November, when the Austrian Interior Ministry launched an EU-wide design competition for its renovation. At that time, officials he told CNN in a statement that the move could help deter “National Socialist activity.”

The building in which Adolf Hitler was born, photographed in 2015. Credit: Joe Klamar / AFP / Getty Images

The winning proposal, from the Austrian firm Marte.Marte Architects, was sleepless at a press conference on Tuesday. Digital models show an extended gable roof, with the current yellow facade replaced by a white one, according to neighboring buildings.

According to a government press release, Interior Minister Karl Nehammer said at Tuesday’s press conference that the city had become “the antithesis of everything (Hitler) stood for.”

“You can recognize a country’s democratic culture by dealing with its history, and it has taken Austria a long time to face its own history,” he says. quoted as saying during the announcement “Today we are opening a new chapter to deal with our historical responsibility,” he added.

Ongoing debate

The building’s fate has long been a contentious issue in the city, where many want to demolish the painful reminder of the brief time that Hitler spent there.

In 2012, the Mayor of Braunau am Inn, Johannes Waidbacher, told the Austrian newspaper Der Standard that the town was already “stigmatized”. The three years that the Nazi dictator spent there “were certainly not the most formative” of his life, Waidbacher said, adding: “We, as the city of Braunau, are not prepared to take responsibility for … the Second War. World (break out). “
Others have lobbied for the site to be transformed into a community center, called “Responsibility House, “where young people from all over the world could meet and learn about the past.

For decades, the controversial building belonged to Gerlinde Pommer, whose family owned the property before Hitler’s birth. The Austrian Home Office began renting the site to him in 1972, subletting to various charities. But the building has remained empty since the last occupant, a disability center, vacated in 2011.

Four years ago the government Announced that the structure would be demolished. He then undertook to acquire it by force from Pommer, and the Interior Ministry invoked a “special legal authorization” to expropriate the property.

Following were legal disputes over seizure and compensation, during which plans to tear down the building were shelved.

The exterior of the building is shown on digital models by Austrian architecture firm Marte.Marte, which won a competition to renovate the site.

The exterior of the building is shown on digital models by Austrian architecture firm Marte.Marte, which won a competition to renovate the site. Credit: Mars Mars

After securing the site, the Austrian government remained concerned that it might attract neo-Nazis and others sympathetic to Hitler’s ideology. Announcing the decision to transform it into a police station last year, Austria’s then Interior Minister Wolfgang Peschorn said that “the future use of the house by the police will be an unequivocal sign that this building will never serve to commemorate National Socialism. ” “

Currently, the only physical reminder of the building’s past is a commemorative stone commemorating victims of fascism during World War II. Installed in 1989shortly before the centenary of Hitler’s birth, the stone says: “For peace, freedom and democracy. Fascism never again. In memory of the millions of dead.”

Renovation work on the building is expected to be completed in early 2023, and cost around € 5 million ($ 5.6 million).

Other buildings associated with the Hitler government have been reused in the post-war era. The alpine retreat of the Nazi dictator, Eagle’s Nest, is now a restaurant and tourist destination, while the site of its headquarters for the Polish bunker, Wolf’s Lair, now contains a hotel.
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Cary Douglas

About the Author: Cary Douglas

Wayne Ma is a reporter who covers everything from oil trading to China's biggest conglomerates and technology companies. Originally from Chicago, he is a graduate of New York University's business and economic reporting program.

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