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The homes of Adolf Hitler


Adolf Hitler


South Bend Tribune

South Bend, Indiana, September 27, 2000

House where Hitler grew up haunts residents of Austrian town

Dilapidated structure is being renovated as coffin warehouse

Associated Press Writer


FOR decades, few people outside Leonding knew the Nazi dictator spent his boyhood in this picture-pretty town near the west Austrian city of Linz. In a country that is still struggling to own up to its past, Leonding would have preferred to keep its Hitler connection out of the public eye.

LEONDING, Austria -- Word is spreading: Hitler lived here.

Hitler's house

Construction workers are busy May 29 at the house where Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler lived between 1898 and 1904 in Leonding, Austria. AP Photo/RUDI BRANDSTAETTER.

But this year, the house where Hitler lived for six years until age 15 was becoming a safety hazard and a decision had to be made: to renovate it or tear it down? That, in turn, spawned a painful dispute.

Some in the town of 22,000 wanted the empty house designated as a memorial to infamy, while others demanded it be razed -- both ideas too radical for Mayor Herbert Sperl, a self-described man of consensus.

Instead, he got the town council to approve a plan to renovate the house, leave it unidentified and use it to warehouse coffins for the nearby cemetery.

"Rededicating it for this function is one way of making sure Hitler isn't being glorified," he says.

Although renovation work already has begun, others remain opposed.

They point out that other buildings -- Hitler's birthplace in Braunau to the west and a school he attended in Fischlham to the south, display memorials or plaques condemning his crimes against humanity. And most Austrians today acknowledge that their country was not only a victim but a perpetrator during the Nazi era.


David Irving

David Irving comments:

I VISITED this tiny house in Leonding late in 1981 when re-researching Hitler's War. Students from the nearby University of Linz, where I had spoken the night before, took me on a guided tour. The unmarked and anonymous house was at that time used as an office for gravediggers -- the cemetery where Hitler's parent's lie is just across the road. The parents' gravestone is a simple stone slab, ordained however in the Austrian style with a photograph of the two incumbents; the tomb was covered with fresh flowers, and votive candles guttered all around it, a sign that these two, the Customs official Alois and his patient, cancer-ridden wife Klara, were held in somewhat greater esteem than was their famous son -- at least in the eyes of the public media.

"I suggested that we should make it a monument, a memorial to the millions of Jews killed in the Holocaust," says Dr. Claudia Mueller-Wechselberger, a 42-year-old physician at the local hospital. "Turning the house into something it never was won't change history.

"It's time people here stopped turning away and started facing facts -- Hitler lived here, among us."

In March [2002] she wrote to the regional newspaper, the Oberoesterreichische Nachrichten, complaining that the estimated $300,000 cost of renovation would be better spent turning the building into a memorial.

Reaction was quick -- and in some cases scary. People accused her of casting their community in a negative light by publicizing its links to Hitler.

"I started getting anonymous calls, nasty cursing," she says. "Some of them asked if I had children."

A town councilwoman stopped greeting her. So did neighbors, and "One of them said that if I ever write another letter to the paper, I should make sure I don't list my address again," Mueller-Wechselberger said.

Hitler was born in Braunau, an Austrian town on the German border, and lived there until the age of 3.

As Germany's fuehrer, or leader, he paid triumphant visits to Braunau, Leonding and other boyhood haunts after Nazi Germany absorbed Austria in 1938.

Although Braunau's "Hitler House" has long been used as a workshop for the mentally disabled, it remains a place of pilgrimage for admirers and a venue for anti-Nazi demonstrators.

Hitler's shadow is bound to go on looming over Leonding.

In the cemetery beside the house, his mother, Klara, lies in a grave by her husband, Alois, surrounded by burned-out stumps of votive candles that attest to frequent visitors.


Related item on this website

Gerhard Rohringer grew up in Linz and visited Hitler's parental home often
The Berghof. Hitler's Mountain home, in the Bavarian Alps, profiled by Homes & Gardens, Nov 1938

© Focal Point 2002  e-mail:  write to David Irving