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Ein weiterer Artikel aus "off-duty" Oktober 1974

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Adolf Hitler - Who's He ?

Braunau, Austria, tries to forget - By NINO LO BELLO - aus Off Duty / Europe / October 1974

A boy, who made good and a boy, who made bad ....

NEARLY EVERY town has a local boy who made good, but Braunau-am-Inn, on the Austrian-German border has a local boy who made bad.

So bad that the 16,000 folks who live here never breathe Adolf Hitler's name, have erected no plaques in his honor and will give you an "I-don't-know" stare if you ask for the house where he was born.

Braunau am Inn - kein Gedenken an Hitler

In Braunau, there are no streets named after Hitler, nor do Braunau's tourist folders make any mention of him or his birthhouse. Yet every year this tiny township squatting placidly on the River Inn, which separates Upper Austria from Bavaria, draws about 100,000 curious tourists who want to look at the house in which Hitler first saw the light of day. But when they ask for directions, they get no help from the natives, who merely shrug their shoulders and go about their business.

April 20, 1889 - when Hitler was born

Hitler was born at 6:30 p.m. on April 20, 1889 (Easter Eve), atop what was then a beerhall at 15 Salzburger Vorstadt, which is the main avenue leading to the bridge that crosses the river. The building, which has also served as a library and a girls' school, is an 18th-century structure with a yellow-and-brown facade and is owned by the Pummer Family, who have rented the ground floor to a bank.

Hitler lived with his family in the rear part of this house until he was three years old. Then his father, Alois Hitler - who had legally changed his name from Schicklgruber (he was born illegitimate - unehelich) in 1877 - moved up the Austrian civil service ladder and was appointed to a post as a higher customs official in Passau.

Passau is on the German side of the border, but all the work of German-Austrian customs was carried out here, by agreement between the two governments. The next year, Alois Hitler was promoted again and moved to Linz. His family joined him a year later.

Adolf Hitler - a lonely single visit in Braunau - March 12, 1938

The Hitler family moved again several times after Alois Hitler retired from the civil service in 1895 at the age of 58. During the rest of his life, Adolf Hitler returned only once to Braunau. That was on March 12, 1938, after the Germans had taken Austria.

He headed a parade of his troops when they crossed the River Inn bridge. As his entourage reached No. 15 on the main street (which was by then called Adolf Hitler Strasse), his car stopped for a moment, he gave an abrupt Nazi salute and proceeded on to Linz.

The "Adolf Hitler Strasse" no. 15, a Teutonic Mecca

During the years the Nazis were in power, the building at No. 15 was a pan-German "national" shrine. Millions of Hitler's followers made Braunau a Teutonic Mecca, while the Nazi propaganda machine drummed out considerable promotion to make it a boom town.

Even the bed in which Hitler was born was broken up into small splinters that were sold at 20 (Reichs-) marks each.

Braunau had German postage stamps issued in its honor, and for many years the local post office used a special cancellation mark that read: "Braunau, the Führer's Birthplace."

und wenn Du fragst - keiner hatte Hitler gekannt

Although you can find nobody in Braunau who will admit he knew Adolf Hitler as a child, two of his kin do live in self-imposed obscurity in the vicinity. One is his cousin, Anna Schicklgruber, a farm woman who is virtually a hermit, refusing to talk to any strangers about anything whatever.

Hitler's great-nephew, Adolf Schmidt, on the other hand, readily confesses his deep shame. He, too, works on a farm and tells people he has never married "only because I do not want to take the chance of bringing another monster like my great-uncle into this world."

Auch im Braunauer "Volksmuseum" - kein Wort über Hitler

Before it became infamous for giving the world Adolf Hitler, Braunau did have some historical significance, reports Robert Payne in his book "The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler".

Founded in the 13th century, the town was fought over during the Napoleonic wars. Braunau boasted an impressive church - the Stefanskirche with its Gothic vaults - as well as crumbling medieval walls and 17th-century fortifications. But soon it became known only as Hitler's birthplace.

The local folk museum displays Braunau lore, but as is to be expected, makes no mention of Adolf Hitler. Visitors to the museum can see a sewing machine built by a 19th-century Austrian inventor, a portrait of a Braunau pyromaniae woman (hanged 160 years ago for burning down 37 houses) and a crooked bench on which Napoleon sat.

The only Hitler memento - and it is not listed in the guidebook to the museum - is a scale model of old Braunau made out of richly colored pottery. Given to the Fuhrer as a gift in 1938, it was turned over after the war to the museum.
By NINO LO BELLO - aus Off Duty / Europe / October 1974


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