Hitler's childhood home to be converted into human rights training center

The Austrian government wanted to repurpose the building so it would not attract far-right tourists, according to a statement by Austria's Interior Ministry.

  (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Adolf Hitler's birthplace will soon be the home of a human rights training center for police officers, Austria’s Interior Ministry announced Wednesday.

Plans for the facility, along with a new police station, have been in the works since 2019. His birthplace in a building in Braunau am Inn, Austria was converted because an interdisciplinary expert commission was concerned with the property's “mythical appeal to extremist circles,” according to a statement made by the ministry.

Historian Oliver Rathkolb, a professor at the Institute of Contemporary History at the University of Vienna, spoke of giving the building a new purpose while facing the tragic past of the nation at a press briefing. “We have to face our past and give this historically burdened place a life-affirming perspective,” he stated.

Born in an apartment building in April 1889, Hitler and his family remained in the home until his family departed when he was three years old. The building was owned by the family of local Gerlinde Pommer, whose family owned the building before the figure's birth before the Interior Ministry started to rent the site from her in 1972.

Giving an old building new life

The building became a shrine to Hitler during Nazi rule, despite him only living in the space for a short time as a baby. Nazi enthusiasts flocked to the home in major tourism waves throughout his rule. When the Nazis began to fall, the house was boarded up in 1944.

The Austrian government began renting the space from Pommer specifically to curb far-right tourism.

Throughout the years, the space has served as the home to different charitable organizations. The organizations sublet through the owning family, but it has remained vacant since 2011 when a disability center using the space chose to vacate.

The property was nearly demolished in 2016.

After the site became the property of the Austrian government, officials became concerned that neo-Nazis and other Hitler sympathizers might have seen the site as special for other extremist activities. After deciding to transform the space into a police station in 2019, ministry officials decided the space could serve an even bigger purpose.

“It will be an office for the largest human rights organization in Austria – the police – and it will also be a center for training in this fundamentally important topic,” according to a statement by commission member Hermann Feiner, the former head of construction and real estate projects at the Ministry of the Interior.

The project is expected to cost €20 million, converting to $21.5 million. This clocks in at just under NIS 80 million, at NIS 79,962,800. The project is expected to be completed in 2025.