In 2012, Johannes Waidbacher, the mayor of Braunau, Austria, was asked what he thought should be done with a building in his town that just so happens to be the place where Adolph Hitler was born on April 20, 1889. While he claimed that he was “open to many ideas,” Waidbacher ruffled some feathers when he suggested that it should just be turned into a residential dwelling so that people could eventually forget that, you know, one of the world’s most horrible humans to ever live was brought forth upon this realm within those walls. Some people had suggested that the privately-owned building should be turned into a museum or “House of Responsibility,” according to Spiegel Online, but the mayor didn’t think that was the best idea.
“It would certainly be easier to transform the site into apartments,” he said.
… he added: “One should also ask the question in general as to whether a further Holocaust memorial makes sense when there are already so many in the area. We are stigmatized anyway. Hitler spent the first three years of his life here in our city. And it most certainly was not the most formative phase of his life. As such, we in Braunau are not prepared to take responsibility for the outbreak of World War II.” (Via Spiegel Online)
Today, Waidbacher is singing a far different tune, as years of debate over the fate of this building have culminated in a plan to in fact turn this small building into a reminder that Hitler was a spectacularly heinous monster. “It is a difficult subject,” Waidbacher said of a new agreement between the Austrian government and the owner of the building, according to Haaretz, “but the idea in principle of a House of Responsibility is, in itself, not a bad one.” Especially since the place has become quite the tourist spot for neo-Nazis and Hitler’s fans.
The building has long been the subject of controversy, with a plan announced in May to make it a center for immigrants scuttled when politicians continued to argue about the appropriate use for the home. Another previous proposal to convert the building into housing prompted concerns Hitler worshippers would move in.
The Interior Ministry has barred Hitler admirers from occupy space in the building, but the owner has not let local officials mark the site with a plaque warning of the evils of fascism.
A previous proposal to convert the house into a living space sparked fears the building may fill with Hitler worshippers. Suggestions to create an anti-Nazi memorial have also been rejected. (Via Fox News)
Austria’s interior ministry, which has rented the property for a number of years for a variety of uses, will decide whether or not to create the “House of Responsibility” before the end of the year. If for some reason the plan is shot down, I’d like to offer my own suggestion to turn it into a small factory and warehouse that creates Hitler brand buttplugs.