Vienna, Austria | AFP | Austrian officials unveiled Tuesday plans to “neutralise” Adolf Hitler’s birth house by turning it into a police station, with the building receiving some cosmetic changes in the process.
The yellow corner house in the northern Austrian town of Braunau on the border with Germany, where Hitler was born on April 20 1889, was taken into government control in 2016.
The building’s fate was the subject of a lengthy legal battle with the house’s owner, which only ended last year.
Austrian architecture firm Marte.Marte, run by two brothers, has been chosen from among 12 candidates to carry out the modifications to the property.
The government expects the work to cost some 5 million euros ($5.6 million) and be completed by early 2023.
“A new chapter will be opened for the future from the birth house of a dictator and mass murderer,” Interior Minister Karl Nehammer said at a press conference announcing the plans.
Ministry official Hermann Feiner added that by adjusting the architecture and usage of the building the government aimed to “neutralise the entire premises”.
Although Hitler only spent a short time at the property, it has continued to draw Nazi sympathisers from around the world.
Anti-fascist protesters have also organised rallies outside the building on Hitler’s birthday.
Officials said Tuesday that the 800-square-metre (8,600-square-feet) property — which also has several garages and parking spaces located behind the main building — would get two pointed gables but that much of the original structure would remain intact.
A commemorative plaque outside the building will also be removed and may be exhibited in a museum.
Austria’s highest court ruled last year that Gerlinde Pommer, whose family owned the house for nearly a century, was entitled to some 810,000 euros in compensation, ending a lengthy legal battle.
Pommer had been renting the property to the interior ministry since the 1970s.
The government paid her around 4,800 euros a month and used it as a centre for people with disabilities.
But this arrangement fell apart in 2011 when Pommer refused to carry out essential renovation work and also declined to sell it.
Since then, the building has lain empty.
At one point, the interior ministry was pushing to have it torn down but the plans ran into angry resistance from politicians and historians.
Germany annexed Austria in 1938, and although many top henchmen from Hitler downwards were Austrians, historians say the small Alpine country was slow to acknowledge for many years its shared responsibility for the Holocaust and the other crimes of the Nazis.