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Austria changes plans for house where Adolf Hitler was born

An exterior view of Adolf Hitler’s birth house, in Braunau am Inn, Austria, Sept. 27, 2012.

AP

VIENNA -- Austrian government officials have decided to transform the home where Adolf Hitler was born into a base for a charity, not tear down the property as some demanded.

Thursday’s decision comes a day after lawmakers overwhelmingly approved an Interior Ministry bill to dispossess the owner, who had refused to sell the empty building in Braunau am Inn, a town on Austria’s border with Germany.

Provincial governor Josef Puehringer says destroying the structure would have fueled accusations of “tearing down a piece of burdensome history.”

Instead, officials want to remodel the property’s facade to eliminate its draw as a shrine for admirers of the Nazi dictator, who was born in the house in 1889.

Puehringer says the house will be offered to an agency running a workshop for disabled people.

The government this year launched formal legal procedures to dispossess the home’s owner after she had repeatedly refused to sell the building or to allow renovations that would reduce its symbolic impact as Hitler’s birthplace - and its draw for admirers of the Fuhrer.

Vienna’s Jewish community and a government-supported anti-Nazi research center support tearing down the imposing three-story yellow house.

A house in nearby Leonding, where Hitler lived as a teenager, is now used to store coffins for the town cemetery. There, the tombstone marking the grave of Hitler’s parents, another pilgrimage site for neo-Nazis, was removed last year at the request of a descendant.

A school that Hitler attended in Fischlham, also near Braunau, displays a plaque condemning his crimes against humanity.

The underground bunker in Berlin where Hitler committed suicide on April 30, 1945, was demolished and the site left vacant until the East German government built an apartment complex around it in the late 1980s.

The apartments overlook the German capital’s monument to victims of the Holocaust.