Austria to use Hitler’s birthplace for police human rights training

Austria has announced it will use the house where Adolf Hitler was born to provide human rights training to police officers, in what authorities hope will be the final chapter in a lengthy saga over what to do with the building.

The elegant 17th-century house in Braunau am Inn, near the German border, was bought by the government in 2016 under a compulsory purchase order after a long-running legal battle.

Hitler was born in a rented room on the top floor of the house in 1889.

Development to turn it into a training centre incorporating a police station, expected to cost about €20m, will begin in the autumn, according to authorities.

Demolition was ruled out on the grounds that the act would be viewed negatively internationally and interpreted as Austria denying its Nazi past. Fears have always existed that if it became a public meeting point, the house was in danger of attracting far-right enthusiasts.

The house has stood empty since 2011, when the last owner was forced to leave under a court order after authorities had failed to reach an agreement with her. She later received a compensation payment of more than €800,000.

The house is due to open as a police station and training centre in 2026. A memorial stone in front of the house, engraved with the words “For peace, freedom and democracy – never again fascism – remembering the deaths of millions” is to remain in place, after a decision by the local town council, which goes against the recommendations of the expert commission.

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