April 9, 2016 / 5:43 PM / a year ago

Austria plans to seize house where Hitler was born

A stone outside the house in which Adolf Hitler was born, with the inscription 'For peace, freedom and democracy, never again fascism, millions of dead are a warning' in Braunau am Inn, Austria, is seen in this September 24, 2012 file photo.Dominic Ebenbichler/Files

ZURICH (Reuters) - After years trying to buy the property from its private owner, the Austrian government wants to seize the house where Adolf Hitler was born to prevent it falling into neo-Nazi hands.

"Given the unique nature of the building, its historic significance and the public interest, we've decided to begin discussions seeking to lay the legal groundwork for the seizure," interior ministry spokesman Karl-Heinz Grundboeck said.

The decision was made after years of discussions and fruitless attempts to buy the property, he said, adding that the owner would be compensated for losing ownership.

Hitler was born in the house in Brunau am Inn on April 20, 1889. It was made the subject of an historic preservation order by Germany's National Socialist regime in 1938 after being purchased by the Nazi government.

After being returned to the Pommer family in 1952, the house passed into Gerlinde Pommer's hands in 1977.

The Austrian state has rented the property since 1972 and used it as a daycare center for people with disabilities but it has stood empty since 2011 after Pommer refused to allow work to be undertaken to improve accessibility.

Reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi; Editing by Greg Mahlich

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