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Owner of house where Hitler was born refuses to sell it

Lawyer disputes government's right to take it

A general view of the house where Adolf Hitler was born.
A general view of the house where Adolf Hitler was born.

The owner of the house where Adolf Hitler was born is fighting the Austrian government's right to take possession of the property, The Associated Press reported. Hearings related to the suit filed with the Constitutional Court began on Thursday.

The lawyer disputing the right said a government bill to take the house is being used "like a club" after the owner, Gerlinde Pommer, refused authorities' purchase offers that were too low.

The lawyer also questioned the timing of Austria's bill, as the government "could have neutralized the site 40-50 years ago."

The government has been renting the home and wants to offer it to an agency that organized workshops for disabled people. Officials said the bill came after the owner refused to renovate the property for the workshops. 

The government is also hoping alterations will make it less of a draw for those who admire the Nazi dictator, the AP reported.

Hitler was born on April 20, 1889, in the house in Braunau am Inn, a town on the German border, the New York Times reported

The Austrian government started renting the building in 1972 and tried to buy it in 1984, the Times reported. Parliament approved a measure that took effect in January, allowing the government to take control of the building. 

After the measure went into effect, Gerhard Lebitsch, Pommer's lawyer, filed a suit with the Constitutional Court to declare the law unconstitutional.