Speed Reads

History

The Austrian government is grappling with how to prevent Hitler's birthplace from becoming a neo-Nazi shrine

The three-story building where Adolf Hitler was born in 1889 will be seized by the Austrian government in an attempt to keep it from becoming a pilgrimage site for neo-Nazis.

Austria's parliament passed a law allowing the seizure after a long battle between the government and the building's owner, Gerlinde Pommer. For years, the Austrian government gave Pommer money so she wouldn't rent any rooms to outsiders, the BBC reports. She let a charity set up shop in the building, in the town of Braunau am Inn, but when she refused to allow renovations, the charity had to leave. Pommer will receive some form of compensation from the government, which now must decide what to do with the former guesthouse.

When the Nazis were in power, the building was turned into a shrine to Hitler, attracting thousands of tourists. It was shut down in 1944, but locals say neo-Nazi sympathizers are still attracted to the site. Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka and others argue it should be bulldozed, but some historians and cultural organizations say the government should not deny the country's Nazi past, and keep it as is.