(JTA) — The Austrian government reportedly is drafting a law that would transfer ownership of Adolf Hitler’s birthplace to the state. The owner of the home in Braunau has refused for at least the last five years to sell the property to the Austrian government, which is working to prevent the site in the German border town from becoming a shrine to the neo-Nazi community. “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 the French news agency AFP last week. “We have come to the conclusion over the past few years that expropriation is the only way to avoid the building being used for the purposes of Nazi” sympathizers, he said.
Braunau resident Gerlinde Pommer’s family has owned the house where Hitler was born on April 20, 1889, for more than a century. The town has tried for decades to purchase the building. The ministry had rented the home for decades and sublet it to charitable organizations. The house, which draws neo-Nazi visitors, especially on the anniversary of Hitler’s birthday, has stood empty for approximately five years after the owner refused to authorize needed renovations. The building is listed as a historical landmark and cannot be razed. Hitler’s name does not appear anywhere near the home. A stone outside the home is inscribed with the words: “Never again Fascism. In memory of millions of dead. For Peace, Freedom and Democracy.”