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Austria’s difficult legacy… “The police in Hitler’s birthplace are a false symbolism” – News

Austria’s difficult legacy… “The police in Hitler’s birthplace are a false symbolism” – News


The police are supposed to move to the birthplace of Adolf Hitler. A new documentary criticizes this approach.

For decades there has been debate in Austria about what to do with the birthplace of Adolf Hitler. In 2016, the then Minister of Interior announced its demolition. The house was then confiscated to prevent it falling into the wrong hands.


The documentary “Who’s Afraid of Braunau?” Revisits the eventful and present-day history of Hitler’s birthplace.

Keystone/Kirsten Johnson

Shortly afterwards, the demolition decision was canceled and renovation was planned with the aim of allowing people with cognitive disabilities to move in. Last May, another shift occurred: It’s not the disabled, it’s the police that must act.

Committee: The cult of worship must be broken

The interdisciplinary commission that discussed the future of Hitler’s House decided: “The cult and mythology surrounding the person of Adolf Hitler by right-wing extremists – some of whom travel to Braunau to Hitler’s birthplace specifically for this purpose – must be finalized.” broken. The best way to achieve this goal is to involve the police.

We must open the doors to our past, especially our offender past. That’s why this house needs to be open.

But the new documentary “Who’s Afraid of Braunau?” raises suspicions. “Without comparing the police today with the police under National Socialism, they are a bad symbol,” says director Günter Schweiger. “Because of the past and the police’s involvement in the crimes of the National Socialists.”

How to deal with the building?

In addition, this means that the house will be closed to residents. “That’s exactly what we shouldn’t do. We should open the doors to our past, especially our offender past. That’s why this house should be open.”

Birthplace of Adolf Hitler

Open the box
Close the box

17th century: The house at Salzburger Vorstadt No. 15 in Braunau am Inn was built as an inn.

1889: Alois and Klara Hitler move in as short-term tenants. They move again six months after the birth of their son Adolf.

1938: After Austria was “annexed” to the German Reich, Hitler’s close friend Martin Bormann acquired the building for the Nazi Party. Transforming it into a cultural and tourism center.

1943: Opening as the “Birthplace of the Guide”

May 1945: American soldiers prevent the house from being blown up and use it to mount an exhibition about Nazi atrocities.

1954: After ten years of Braunau city administration, the house was sold to the hotel’s former owners and the city used it as the city library, a bank branch, and a school, among other things.

1972: The Republic of Austria became the main tenant of the house and, since 1977, has made it available to the “Lebenshilfe”, an association that supports people with disabilities.

2011: Since the owner refuses a hassle-free transfer, the “Lebenshilfe” moves elsewhere.

2016: In order to prevent the house from falling into the wrong hands, the Republic of Austria confiscated the building and placed it in state ownership. At the same time, a committee is convened to determine the correct handling of the house. A public and sometimes very emotional debate ensues about the possibility of demolition, remodeling and subsequent use.

May 2023: The Ministry of Interior provides information about renewal. This should be completed in 2025. The police station and district police command are scheduled to move in 2026.

Schweiger’s film shows the problems at home without pointing fingers. It describes how the residents of Braunau had been trying to fit into Hitler’s unpopular home for decades.

The Nazis once changed the facade of the house. Now this will be changed again as part of a €20 million refurbishment. For director Schweiger, this is absurd: “The idea behind this is to erase every memory of Adolf Hitler in this house. People try to change the facade and think this is a way to come to terms with history. But changing the façade and not what is behind it is what has been happening in Austria for a very long time.”

Blackboard with writing.


In the house, the graffiti reminds us of the building’s background.


Schweiger’s documentary also reveals that with the arrival of the police, Adolf Hitler’s will was fulfilled, so to speak. Braunau historian Florian Kotanko found a newspaper article from 1939 in which Hitler explicitly wanted state employees to work in the house where he was born. It literally says: “It is his desire to convert them into offices for district administration.”

This is also why, according to a new poll by the Braunau initiative “Diskurs Hitlerhaus,” only six percent of all people surveyed in Austria support the police moving to Hitler’s birthplace.

Therefore, Günter Schweiger is convinced that the police will never act. “If such a large majority opposes it, we must urgently consider whether this decision is the right decision for the future.”