Austria plans to demolish the house where Adolf Hitler was born to prevent it becoming a pilgrimage site for neo-Nazis, the Interior Ministry announced on October 17.
The future of the former guesthouse of the building in Braunau am Inn, a town on the border with Germany where Adolf Hitler was born on April 20, 1889, has been widely debated, with opinion torn between razing it or changing its use.
The argument was further complicated after its owner refused to sell.
Austria’s Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka said a committee of experts had decided that the house should be demolished, reported Austrian newspaper Die Presse.
A new building put in its place will be used for administrative or for charitable purposes, the paper added.
Wolfgang Sobotka told Die Presse: “The Hitler house will be torn down. The foundations can remain but a new building will be erected. It will be used by either a charity or the local authorities.”
The house has been the subject of years of legal wrangling between the owner Gerlinde Pommer and the government, which has been renting it since 1972 to prevent any misuse.
The government currently pays about €4,800 ($5,300) a month for the building.
Gerlinde Pommer who is now retired, has repeatedly refused to sell the three-storey building to the government.
For the last five years the house has also stood empty, as Gerlinde Pommer refused to allow renovation work to be done.
The building had previously been used as a center for people with disabilities.
An interior ministry spokesman told AFP a legal amendment proposed earlier this year which would allow them to seize the property was still “under way”, meaning parliament has yet to approve the demolition.
However, the decision will likely upset some in the community, some who wanted it to become a refugee centre, others a museum dedicated to Austria’s liberation from Nazi rule.
A number of cultural organizations previously opposed the building’s demolition because it is part of the historic city center and therefore under heritage protection.
Adolf Hitler was born in a rented room on the top floor of the building.
During Nazi rule, the house was transformed into a shrine to Adolf Hitler as the town drew in a wave of tourists.
As the Nazis began to lose control in 1944, it was shut up.
Yet despite the efforts of successive governments to stop it drawing neo-Nazis sympathizers to Braunau am Inn, locals say it still does.