Vienna: The house where Adolf Hitler was born has become the subject of debate after the mayor of the German dictator’s home town suggested turning it into apartments.
Johannes Waidbacher sparked off criticism in Austria after he said he wanted the vacant building in Braunau to become a living space rather than an anti-Nazi memorial.
“We are already stigmatised,” he said, adding: “We, as the town of Braunau, are not ready to assume responsibility for the outbreak of the Second World War.”
Plans to transform the building have prompted fears they could attract tenants with Nazi sympathies.
According to Sky News, the 500-year-old building, which has thick walls, a huge arched doorway and deep-set windows, was most recently used as a workshop for people with learning difficulties, before that tenant moved out last year for more modern quarters.
Fears persist among many in the town that the flats could be filled by admirers of Hitler.
Town council member Harry Buchmayr said most visitors were not normal tourists, but neo-Nazis stopping to pay homage, even though the dictator spent only the first few months of his life in the building.
"I wouldn``t want to live there. I think I would have a bad conscience," a resident, 19-year-old Susanne Duerr, said.
Another town resident, Georg Hoedl, 88, said: "There should be something else inside, something cultural. But apartments - I``m not for that."
Austria’s Interior Ministry spokeswoman Sonja Jell said the ministry remained "particularly sensitive" about the future uses of the building, considering its legacy.
According to the report, its fate will ultimately be decided by the owner, who is known to be opposed to turning it into a Holocaust memorial, meaning there is still a chance it could be converted into apartments.