Austria Plans to Seize Control of Hitler's Birthplace

The building in Braunau am Inn has been standing empty since 2011 due to an extended legal battle between its owner Gerlinde Pommer and the state.

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Austria announced Saturday that it plans to seize the birthplace of Adolf Hitler from its private owner in a bid to end a bitter legal battle and stop the house from becoming a shrine for the Nazi leader, AFP reported.

"We are currently examining the creation of a law, which would force a change of ownership and pass the property to the Republic of Austria," interior ministry spokesman Karl-Heinz Grundboeck told AFP. "We have come to the conclusion over the past few years that expropriation is the only way to avoid the building being used [by neo-Nazis]."

The building in Braunau am Inn is owned by Gerlinde Pommer, and has been standing empty since 2011 due to a legal dispute between the owner and the government the French news agency said. Pommer's family has owned the building for over a century. Since the early 1970s, the government has been leasing it from its owner and ran a center for people with disabilities there. But in 2011, when the government moved to renovate the building, Pommer refused. She also refused the government's offer to purchase the building.

The issue has sparked much interest among the town's residents, with suggestions varying from turning it into a refuge center, a museum to outright demolishing it, AFP said.