House of Responsibility

The house in which Adolf Hitler was born on April 20th, 1889 has a long history.

According to Franz Martin in his chronicles of houses in Braunau (Salzburg, 1943) it initially consisted of two buildings whose owners can be traced back to the 17th century.
It was an independent dwelling in the suburb with the right to brew and serve beer to customers, then it served as a barn, a stable and a brewery.

From 1826 onwards its address was Vorstadt 219 (meaning suburb), then only in 1890 it was renamed Salzburger Vorstadt 15.

From 1888 onwards the owners of the house were Franz and Helene Dafner who ran an inn there.
Franz Dafner died in 1891. His widow, having married again to Jakob Bachleitner in the same year, continued running the inn until the end of 1911. At the beginning of the year 1912 she sold it to Josef Pommer. He kept on running the inn but under the name ‚Zum Hirschen' ('The Stag'). It is noteworthy that this name was not displayed on the facade.

From 1912 onwards you just went 'to Pommer' therefore, which naturally did not mean an inn named 'The Pommer'. Not to mention the association it has with an inhabitant of the German region Pommerania.
In fact, the name 'Zum Hirschen' did not become popular, because there was another inn in Braunau called 'Zum Goldenen Hirschen' ('The Golden Stag'). As there was a danger of confusing these two names the inn was simply called 'Gasthof des Josef Pommer' ('Josef Pommer's Inn').

In 1938 the house was bought by Martin Bormann, the purchase being commissioned by the NSDAP at a price four times the value of the building. It was renovated and a cultural centre with a public library was set up.

From the spring of 1943 to the autumn of 1944 exhibitions with pictures and sculptures by local artists (artists from Braunau and the surrounding area) were held in the 'Braunauer Galerie im Führer-Geburtshaus' ('Braunau Gallery in the House where the Fuehrer was Born').

Immediately after the liberation of Braunau by American troops on May 2nd, 1945 a German raiding party tried to blow up the house (where Hitler was born) but US soldiers prevented the attack.

On November 1st, 1945 an exhibition intended to show the visitors the horrors of concentration camps in particular was opened 'in the place from which Hitler once entered the world'.
The building - given back to its former owners by a legal agreement and rented by the Federal Government - was the seat of the town library until 1965.

In the following period it served as an alternative accommodation for a bank; later on, some classrooms of the newly founded college for higher technical studies (HTL), a municipal school, were housed there (1970 - 1976).

After the erection of a new building for the HTL a society caring for handicapped adults ('Lebenshilfe') founded a day centre and workshops for the disabled.
After the campaign 'Braunau setzt ein Zeichen' ('Braunau Gives a Signal') - initiated by the local paper 'Braunauer Rundschau' and promoted by Mayor Gerhard Skiba, by the 'Verein für Zeitgeschichte' ('Society for Contemporary History') and all the parties in the council of Braunau - efforts have commenced to carry out the purchase of the house Salzburger Vorstadt 15 by the local government, the federal Government and the province, and if possible with the assistance of the EU.

The town's efforts to manage the purchase have not been successful so far but go on persistently.

Later on, after the 'Lebenshilfe' will have moved to a new building and won't need all of their old home any more, the house shall be established and used as a 'House of Responsibility'.
The 'Verein für Zeitgeschichte' has engaged Dr. Andreas Maislinger, a political scientist from Innsbruck, to draft a plan for the future use of the house where Adolf Hitler was born.

This plan has been submitted to the committee of the 'Verein für Zeitgeschichte' and is being discussed at the moment.

Florian Kotanko
Society for Contemporary History Braunau am Inn  
Austrian Holocaust Memorial Service  
Austrian Social Service  
Austrian Peace Service