By Jonathan Zalman

The saga over what to do with the building where Adolf Hitler was born continues, as the Austrian government tries to seize ownership of the property

hitler-birth-placeOn April 20, 1889, Adolf Hitler was born on the top floor of an apartment building in Braunau am Inn, Austria, about a three-hour drive west of Vienna. Today, the structure has become a bit of a public relations nightmare for the Austrian government, which can’t seem to make up its mind about what to do with the building it fears will become a cult shrine of sort to neo-Nazis.

In fact, for years, the Austrian government has has been paying rent on the building to a local woman who has refused to sell the building. The government has taken action to be able to seize ownership of the building but, according to the BBC, it still pays Gerlinde Pommer over $5,000 every month in order to make sure the building doesn’t fall into the wrong hands, which is a fine thing to do. (In 1933, the town refused to name him an honorary citizen.) The government has been doing this since 1972.

The building has been empty for five years. In the past it’s been used mostly for good, housing a library and school, pub, and workshops for disabled people, among other businesses. Still, with seemingly every month the building stands, new wrinkles in this story have emerged over the question of what to do with the building on a permanent basis: raze it, as Austrian Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka desires, or repurpose it? This is surely not something to take lightly.

On Monday, the Austrian government said it had made the decision to demolish the building. On Tuesday, however, it reportedly changed its tune, according to NPR:

“After years of indecision about what to do with the Hitler house, Austrians thought they had a decision,” reporter Kerry Skyring tells our Newscast unit. The interior minister had said the building would be demolished, leaving only the foundation.

“But today, the minister says the plan is to give it an architectural makeover that would render it unrecognizable from its current form,” Skyring says. He adds that “the new plan comes after members of a government-appointed commission on the future of the house suggested that erasing the house would give the impression Austria was trying to erase its past.”