World News

Austrian lawmakers pass bill to seize house Hitler was born in

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VIENNA (Reuters) - Austria’s lower house of parliament has approved the compulsory purchase of the building Hitler was born in, a step towards changing the site beyond recognition to reduce its appeal as a pilgrimage site for neo-Nazis.

The text approved late on Wednesday did not specify what form the planned overhaul of the building will take, which some deputies who voted against the bill cited as their reason for opposing it.

Opponents included some members of the small, liberal Neos party, according to a statement by parliament, but a count of votes was not immediately available. The bill must now be passed by the upper house, which is expected to be a formality.

Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka has said the government supports a planned “thorough architectural rearrangement” of the house Hitler was born in near the border with Germany in 1889, which could include demolishing the building.

The compulsory purchase of the house in the town in Braunau am Inn should put an end to a long-standing dispute with its owner, a retired woman who has turned down previous offers by the state to acquire the site.

Sobotka has said the three-storey building could be used by the town of Braunau for “charitable or official purposes” after its conversion. The Interior Ministry has been renting the building since 1972 and sublet it to Braunau.

Reporting by Francois Murphy; Editing by Angus MacSwan