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Hitler’s birthplace will be redesigned

Barbara Eldredge
A general view of the house where Adolf Hitler spent his early childhood
Johannes Simon | Getty Images

How do you keep Adolf Hitler's birthplace from becoming a neo-Nazi pilgrimage spot without erasing Austria's dark past? Officials have been struggling for years over what to do with the yellow, three-story building in Braunau am Inn, Austria, where the eventual Nazi dictator and driving force behind the genocide of millions of people was born in 1889.

Earlier this month, Austrian officials announced a decision to tear down the building, only to quickly change their minds and make plans to renovate the structure beyond recognition.

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"After years of indecision about what to do with the Hitler house, Austrians thought they had a decision," reporter Kerry Skyring told NPR. "But today, the minister says the plan is to give it an architectural makeover that would render it unrecognizable from its current form."

This new approach was developed after a government-appointed commission suggested that destroying the house could give the impression that the government was trying to erase Austria's past. The building is highly controversial, with some community members calling for it to be turned into a refugee center, or a museum "dedicated to liberation from Nazi rule," the BBC reports.

Since the 1970s, the government had been paying about $5,600 a month to use the building as a center for people with special needs, an arrangement that ended five years ago when the building's owner rebuffed government attempts to purchase and renovate the yellow, three-story structure. Now, it seems, the government will have to seize the property somehow. According to the BBC, a legal amendment proposed earlier this year, though still "under way," would allow them to do just that.