Austria votes to seize Adolf Hitler's birthplace

Adolf Hitler Nazi
Adolf Hitler (file)

After years of bitter disputes, Austria's parliament passed a law on Wednesday night (local time) to seize the house Adolf Hitler was born in.

The Nazi leader was born in the building in Braunau, near the border with Germany, on April 20, 1889. During his rule the house became a shrine, and it continues to draw neo-Nazi tourists.

The government had been renting it from the current owner, Gerlinde Pommer, to prevent it being used for fascist purposes. Instead, it was used by a local charity as a centre for people with disabilities.

But when the building became dilapidated Ms Pommer refused to sell it, or allow it to be renovated.

The charity was forced to move out, the building became empty, and years of legal wrangling ensured.

The government's expropriation has fuelled a debate on the future of the building.

The Interior Ministry wants to tear the property down. But historians don't, an expert committee saying in October "a demolition would amount to negating Austria's Nazi past".