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Hitler birth house in Austria to become police station

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Vienna (AFP)

The house where Adolf Hitler was born will be turned into a police station, Austria's interior ministry announced Tuesday, after years of legal wrangling as the government looks to prevent the building from becoming a neo-Nazi shrine.

The yellow corner house in the northern town of Braunau on the border with Germany, where Hitler was born on April 20, 1889, was taken into government control in 2016.

But the destiny of the building was subject to a lengthy legal battle with the family of Gerlinde Pommer, which owned the house for nearly a century.

That only ended this year when the country's highest court ruled on the compensation Pommer would receive.

The interior ministry will now invite submissions from architects to have the building house the town's police force.

"The house's future usage by the police should set a clear signal that this building will never be a place to commemorate Nazism," Interior Minister Wolfgang Peschorn said in a press release.

The EU-wide architecture competition will be launched this month with a jury of experts, including a representative of the town, expected to make a decision on the best design in the first half of next year.

Austria's highest court ruled earlier this year that Pommer was entitled to some 810,000 euros ($900,000) in compensation, less than she had sought but still more than she had been originally offered.

Pommer had been renting the 800-square-metre (8,600-square-feet) property -- which also has several garages and parking spaces located behind the main building -- to the interior ministry since the 1970s.

The government paid her around 4,800 euros a month and used it as a centre for people with disabilities.

But this arrangement fell apart in 2011 when Pommer refused to carry out essential renovation work and also declined to sell it.

Since then, the building has lain empty.

At one point, the interior ministry was pushing to have it torn down but the plans ran into angry resistance from politicians and historians.

Although Hitler only spent a short time at the property, it continues to draw Nazi sympathisers from around the world.

Every year on Hitler's birthday, anti-fascist protesters organise a rally outside the building.

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