The redesign of Adolf Hitler’s birth house will go ahead as planned, starting on October 2, Austria‘s interior ministry said Monday, after a documentary aired new claims about the late Nazi dictator’s wishes for it.
Following years of legal wrangling, the government decided to turn the house in the northern Austrian town of Braunau, where Hitler was born in 1889, into a police station with a human rights training centre.
In a bid to prevent the building on the border with Germany from becoming a neo-Nazi shrine, the government took control of the dilapidated building in 2016.
The expropriation ended a bitter saga between the state and the former owner.
“The construction (to convert the house) is scheduled to start on 2 October 2023,” an interior ministry spokesman confirmed to AFP.
“Everything will go ahead as planned,” he added.
But Austrian director Guenter Schwaiger, who is due to release a documentary about the house in late August, said the ministry’s plans for the house’s future use will “always be suspected” of being “in line with the dictator’s wishes”.
As evidence Schwaiger cited the discovery of a local newspaper article from 10 May 1939, which states that it was Hitler’s wish to have his birth house converted into offices for the district authorities.
Transforming the house into a police station would amount to the administrative use the dictator had envisaged all along, Schwaiger said at a press conference Monday, calling on the government to rethink its plans.
The controversial redesign of the 800-square-metre (8,600-square-feet) corner house is currently estimated to cost some 20 million euros ($21.76 million) and expected to be completed by 2025.
The police station is to become operational by 2026.
Although Hitler only spent a short time at the property, it has continued to draw Nazi sympathisers from around the world.
Germany annexed Austria in 1938, and although many top henchmen from Hitler downwards were Austrians, historians say the small Alpine country was slow to acknowledge for many years its shared responsibility for the Holocaust and the other crimes of the Nazis before and during World War II..