Peacebuilding & Hitler’s Birthplace
This place on Salzburger Vorstadt, Braunau am Inn, Austria, will always be the place where Hitler was born. Regardless of the efforts to silence, destroy or camouflage the building’s history, it will always be a place of cultural significance (internationally and nationally).
This normal building had an abnormal role to play in modern history, it’s an uncomfortable and embarrassing part for many, nevertheless, it should be recognised, it should be given a contemporary, positive part to play in society.
The building could offer a useful and productive opportunity to help develop peace and understanding in the future. This building and what it represents offers an important opportunity to develop a platform from which to support and address the entangle emotions of past-war trauma and its trans-generational repercussions in Austria, Germany and beyond. The building could encourage the exhalation of pent-up complicated emotions that unfairly burden the younger generations and continue to condition others. An opportunity to wrestle history from those with a negative political agenda and represent it visibly and with tolerance and integrity.
A truly worthwhile project!
In the Summer 2017, the Austrian government decided to take ownership of the issue. In reaction to calls for the building to be pulled down to prevent it becoming a shrine for neo-Nazis. The court decided that expropriation would help ensure that the building, in Braunau am Inn, did not become a neo-Nazi monument and gave rise to hope, that the building might finally be addressed productively.
Sadly however, in an awkward attend to make-good the situation, it seems the officials have put forward plans to remodel the property's facade and offer it to Lebenshilfe, a charity which supports people with learning difficulties. A noble re-use for any building in Braunau am Inn, unfortunately though, in this case, a flaccid gesture of insecurity when it comes to this particular building and its potential to acknowledge issues of the past, present or future.
“In reality, the ghosts of these places rarely go away – as the town of Braunau will likely find out long after it has converted Hitler’s birthplace into a labour office or a cultural centre (just two of the options proposed by Sobotka)”. (Kate Connolly)
Reclaiming Nazi buildings: what should Austria do with Hitler’s old house? By Kate Connolly
“The question of what to do with Nazi structures has vexed authorities for the past 70 years. The Führerbunker in Berlin, the subterranean chambers where Hitler took his own life, was buried under a Berlin car park by East German authorities. However, while the bunker is no longer visible above ground (its inner chambers are still intact), most people familiar with Berlin would have little trouble locating it”
“Reclaiming prominent structures has often been the most popular way of dealing with them. Prora, the abandoned, concrete Nazi holiday resort that stretches for 2.8 miles along the Baltic coast, was for decades a headache for authorities – too big to destroy, too ugly to use. But, helped by Germany’s booming property market, it has now been turned into a luxury resort of beachside apartments. No one questions the morality of holidaymakers enjoying them exactly as the Nazis had intended, although the idea is, for some, sinister”.