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Fresh attempt to seize Hitler's birth house

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Fresh attempt to seize Hitler's birth house
Austria's government submitted Friday a law to seize the house where Hitler was born, in a bid to stop the building becoming a neo-Nazi shrine.
19:01 CEST+02:00
Austria's government submitted Friday a law to seize the house where Hitler was born, in a bid to stop the building becoming a neo-Nazi shrine.

The large corner house in the quaint northern town of Braunau am Inn near the German border where the Nazi dictator was born in 1889 has been owned by the family of a local woman for more than a century.

In 1972 the government signed a lease with the owner and turned it into a centre for people with disabilities, but the arrangement came to an abrupt end five years ago when she refused to grant permission for renovation works.

The government said on April 9 it decided to seize the property, with the building -- which cannot be demolished because it is in the town's historic centre and therefore under heritage protection -- empty since 2011.

"Representatives of the interior ministry have been trying for several years to buy the property, but these attempts failed... Now the only option is to transfer ownership to the Austrian Republic through expropriation," the interior ministry said on Friday.

The building has been empty since 2011, although the owner, Gerlinde Pommer, receives rent from the government to keep it unused.  The building has been in her family for more than a century.  The Austro-German dictator Adolph Hitler was born there on April 20th, 1889.
 
The latest round of legal problems began five years ago, when Pommer refused to allow renovations to the building, in a dispute over its use.  She also turned down offers by the government to buy the house.
 
Prior to the dispute, the house had been used for many years as a centre for people with mental disabilities.  The Interior Ministry has been the main tenant of the building since 1972, subletting it to various charitable organisations. 

The approximately 800 square metre property currently costs the state €4,800 a month. The tenancy agreement states that it may not be used as a museum, or in any historical context, and that the owner must consent to any new tenant.

Pommer, who is shy of talking to the media, will receive "adequate compensation," it said in a statement.

The issue has sparked heated debate among Braunau's 17,000 residents. Some want it to become a refugee centre, others a museum dedicated to Austria's liberation and others demolition.

Outside there is a stone memorial that reads: "For Peace, Freedom and Democracy. Never Again Fascism, Millions of Dead Warn."

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