Adolf Hitler's childhood home to be torn down, Austria announces

'A thorough architectural remodeling is necessary to permanently prevent the recognition and the symbolism of the building' 

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The house where Adolf Hitler was born in 1889 is to be torn down and replaced with a new building, the Austrian government has said. 

Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka said on Monday that "a thorough architectural remodeling is necessary to permanently prevent the recognition and the symbolism of the building." 

Ministry spokesman Karl-Heinz Grundboeck said this means the house, in the western town of Braunau, will replaced with a new structure. 

Fears have been raised that the site could become a place of pilgrimage of Neo-Nazis and Mr Sobotka said the move will ensure any association with Hitler will be eliminated at the site. 

The announcement ends a long running dispute between the government and the house’s owner, whose family have owned the property for over a century. 

Following Austria’s “Anschluss” with Germany in 1938, the Nazi regime bought the house, and it was returned to the owner's family after the war in 1952, Deutsche Welle reported earlier this year.

The Austrian government signed a lease with the owner in 1972 to turn the building into a centre for the disabled, but the lease was ended in 2011, reportedly over the owner's reservations about renovations to the building.

It has remained empty since this time and has been visited by Nazi sympathisers in the past.

The owner has repeatedly refused to sell the building and it remains unclear whether she has now changed her mind or if the government acted on plans to dispossess her.

Mr Sobotka told Austrian newspaper Die Presse that “the foundations can remain but a new building will be erected.”

He said it will “be used by either a charity or local authorities”.

The fate of the house has sparked debate among Braunau's 17,000 residents. Some have urged authorities to turn the building into a refugee centre, while others believe it should become a museum dedicated to Austria's liberation from Nazi rule, The Local reports. 

 A number of cultural organisations previously opposed the building's demolition because it is part of the historic city centre and under heritage protection.

Additional reporting by Associated Press