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Last updated Saturday, 05 March 2022
Original document 19 October 2016.

Why the demolition of 'The Hitler house' in Braunau am Inn is misguided and dangerous.

As some people will know, Adolf Hitler was born on 20 April 1889 in a house in Braunau am Inn, Austria, which is on the border of Germany. Others will also know in 2014 the town rushed to revoke any honorary citizenship Hitler might have had (and as I recall other places followed). The only important facts hitherto is Hitler was born in Braunau am Inn and during the Third Reich the house was a place of extreme importance for the obvious reason their Führer was born there. The question was until the other day what to do with the house; at one point a Russian MP offered to buy and blow it up but until now the fate was undecided. But unless parliament disapproves of how they are taking possession of the house (in which case there will likely be another heated debate if not outright row) the house is set to be demolished. I feel though that this mentality of destroying all things Third Reich is misguided and dangerous; it removes yet another part of history and for a world which supposedly wants to never forget it sure puts in a lot of effort to instead forget. It's also hypocritical since the world condemns Japan for their version of their role in the war.

The way society sees it, if something has any association with Hitler it is clearly and wholly evil and there can be no other possibility (amusing to me is Hitler would often say of things that there are two possibilities and hereto he would be right to suggest this). But that isn't all that relevant; what is relevant is how society responds to the suggestion there is another possibility. The idea as I understand it is he was responsible for the murder of 6 million Jews so therefore there can't be anything but evil in his heart. Of course, the reality isn't that simple: good cannot exist without bad and everyone is born as neither; worse still is the following: the world on a whole was both complicit and acquiescent in the matter.

Also although he certainly knew about it there's not a single document that links him to the authorisation of it. Remember this finally: the more corrupt a regime is the less control any single person has; indeed there were many betrayals in the Third Reich and it is known that even Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler betrayed Hitler even going so far as to (trying to) negotiate surrender without Hitler's approval but at the same time trying to prevent Hitler from finding out: Himmler betrayed Hitler more than once.

I realise even that very suggestion is extremely contentious and I know many will call this anti-Semitic. I won't deny the Nazis hated the Jews but I will deny (for in fact it's a lie) they were alone in the matter (the Jews had been dehumanised for centuries and I dare say they still are [one of the groups dehumanised - of which there are unfortunately more]). Others have also hated the Jews even before the Nazis came to be and do to this day.

The Jews were not the only victims either; in fact far more Soviets were murdered (the estimate is as I recall 27 million) and this doesn't include the many mentally ill, physically handicapped, the Roma and others who were also murdered.

Adolf Eichmann also suggested the number as 5 million but this does not matter; what matters is that some people will say that merely suggesting that Hitler was not purely evil is anti-Semitic. Yet I accept this because there is a very serious problem with attacking those who dare suggest that something is not what the traditional truth says instead of participating in open discussion (and more generally refusing to acknowledge mistakes, imperfections, etc., which ironically enough is a mistake and a sign of imperfection).

Ultimately the idea that a person is only evil and nothing more is nothing but reductionism and this only leads to judgement that misses important things. It also ignores the fact that everyone - yes everyone - could be the worst sadist in different circumstances.

Back to today in Braunau am Inn where the Hitler house is to be demolished.

The fear is the house would be used as a pilgrimaging site for neo-Nazis. But let's remember first and foremost this simple truth: the Nazi Party (along with the associated SA, SS, Gestapo etc.) was declared illegal in 1945 after the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany. If neo-Nazis really were going to do cause major problems wouldn't this already have happened? It's true some do make the journey but would it be as bad if it was a museum or memorial to the victims of the war (or if they prefer only the Holocaust however disrespectful to all the others who also lost their lives in the war that would be)? Yet that's not the worst of it.

Pretty soon those who were alive during World War II will be gone; at that point it will be confined to diaries and books alone which are also prone to deceits, half-truths and lies even to this day. Both the Allies and the Axis Powers abused propaganda not only to deceive their enemies but also the civilians and propaganda regarding the War is still spread to this day (and this is indeed hypocritical). Obersalzberg was destroyed; the Führerbunker was destroyed; Wolf's Lair was at least partially destroyed; and these sites are pretty historically significant sites. There are more sites also destroyed but now the Hitler house is to be destroyed.

But removing a historical site entirely is to remove it from history; to remove it from history is to forget and deny its existence; to deny it is to not learn; to not learn is to increase the chance it reoccurs. Is this what society wants? It seems the answer is unfortunately a resounding 'yes' and this is just another example of history repeating itself. For this I congratulate the committee of 'experts' who suggest the cowardly act of demolishing the house instead of doing the right thing: facing reality and making the best of it.