Europe

Hitler's birthplace seizure backed by Austrian court

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Media captionBethany Bell describes the house where Adolf Hitler was born

Austria's Constitutional Court has ruled that the state was right to expropriate Adolf Hitler's birthplace, which will be remodelled and used by a disabilities charity.

Former owner Gerlinde Pommer had appealed against parliament's vote in December to seize the property.

The court said expropriation would help ensure that the building, in Braunau am Inn, did not become a neo-Nazi shrine.

The authorities plan to transform it, to erase its associations with Hitler.

The Nazi dictator was born in a rented room on the top floor of the building, near the Austro-German border, on 20 April 1889. He lived there for only a few months.

Mrs Pommer - who does not live there - argued that the building could be transformed without it being seized by the state.

Germany's Spiegel website reports that the Austrian government has been paying the elderly, ailing woman about €5,000 (£4,390; $5,700) a month in rent. Under the expropriation law she will get compensation.

There had been calls for the building to be pulled down to prevent it becoming a shrine for neo-Nazis.

Officials want to remodel the property's facade and offer it to Lebenshilfe, a charity which supports people with learning difficulties.

The building was used by the charity as a day centre and workshop for people with special needs.

But it was forced to move out several years ago when Mrs Pommer blocked renovations.

During Nazi rule, the house was transformed into a shrine to Hitler as the town drew in a wave of tourists.

But as the Nazis began to lose control in 1944, it was boarded up.

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