Austrians get creative

| October 3, 2023

Have to tip my hat to the Austrians – Austria is a lovely country, pretty girls, good beer, solid German-style food. Unfortunately, though, it was also the birthplace of Adolph Hitler, who certainly needs no introduction, back in 1889. Not their fault, Hitler Sr. was a civil servant who happened to live there at the time.

The decision on the future of the building in Braunau am Inn, a town on Austria’s border with Germany, was made in late 2019. Plans call for a police station, the district police headquarters and a security academy branch where police officers will get human rights training.

A years-long back-and-forth over the ownership of the house preceded the overhaul project. The question was resolved in 2017 when Austria’s highest court ruled that the government was within its rights to expropriate the building after its owner refused to sell it.

The building had been rented by Austria’s Interior Ministry since 1972 to prevent its misuse, and was sublet to various charitable organizations. It stood empty after a care center for adults with disabilities moved out in 2011.


I’ve heard for years about Nazi sympathizers visiting WWII sites – remember when the “Arbeit Macht Frei” arch was stolen at Auschwitz? I do have to admit, though, that in this case Austria seems to have come up with an elegant solution. You would think somebody on a list of potential terrorists like the some of the neo-Nazis might be a little reluctant to place a police station high of the places to visit?

Category: WWII

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When I was stationed in Germany back around the end of the Cold War I lived in former SS barracks. The only time I ran across a Nazi was one one surrendered to me while we were in formation outside the barracks. He had dementia and didn’t realize the war ended years ago. That is kind of how I see all Nazis these days. Dementia.


I was never stationed in Germany, though my dad served with Berlin Brigade in the early ’60s and my brother in the late ’80s when the Wall came down. I went to Freiburg when I was 16, though, hosted by a Romanian family, and got the joy of being chased by a gang of skinheads.

But I agree, dementia if you want to give them credit, but sometimes–especially in the case of younger neo-Nazis–it’s just pure unadulterated hatred.


I was stationed in Germany in the mid-’60s. Still a lot of reminders of the war around. Saw one guy digging a ditch wearing a “Gott Mit Uns” Wehrmacht belt. Had a brief conversation in a bar with a former SS guy; he informed me that we could win in Vietnam easily if only we had a few SS divisions. Like most of the other former soldiers I talked with he only served on the Eastern front.


Stationed there ’97- ’00. Went there a bunch before, have been back once since. Not many folk or much left from WW2, but some. The former Degussa chemical factory in Hanau we’d bombed in the war had a slave labor enclosure next to it (or what looked like one– same J-shaped concrete fence posts strung by rusting barbed wire, same birch trees planted in a regular pattern like at Auschwitz-Birkenau). Germans didn’t want us digging while doing Army stuff there. (Gee, one guess, right?) Actually, it was contaminated with chemicals and possible explody bits under a safe layer of topsoil. (They’d filled Wunderwaffen missilery with storable hypergolic propellants and we’d repeatedly obliterate the production line.) What looked like a prisoner enclosure– by the same crew who built Auschwitz III, yes– was an ammunition holding area (AHA) for finished product, made to look like it did so we wouldn’t bomb the factory. Our guys, with the Norden bombsight and dropping from lower altitudes, still bombed but scrupulously avoided the AHA. (It was still serviceable, used to store stuff and quite creepy in 2000.) Don’t let Germans say “we didn’t know”; they did.


To think that Nazi sympathizers, Holocaust deniers, and similar types are still a thing in the mid-2020s is amazing. I used to be the “bad guy”, portraying a Waffen-SS Schutze (Private), and still have the uniform hanging in the closet. It brought me a little closer to history 20 years ago, but I harbored no illusion that, while the average Soldat was fighting for his country, especially later in the war as the Germans’ luck ran out, the regime itself needed to be toppled.

Speaking of shrines and memorials, after the Waffen-SS vet was applauded in Canada, Mark Felton (British historian with an outstanding YouTube channel) was motivated to share some taxpayer-funded Ukrainian SS memorials in Canada and Great Britain. Different times, to be sure, but while it’s “Russia, Russia, Russia!” today, some 80 years ago Russia (well, the Soviet Union) was our ally, while Germany was our bitter enemy. How the narrative has flipped. Maybe Patton was onto something about getting the Germans on our team to destroy the Soviet threat to Western Civilization.

Austria will always be known for the failed artist-turned-Corporal it produced, as well as the Archduke whose assassination directly led to the First World War, and indirectly to the Second (with Special Guest Host Adolf). That said, they have a lot of history and have been intertwined (for better or worse) with Germany for centuries.

USMC Steve

The Austrians, by and large, were bigger and more ardent Nazis than the Germans were, at least right up until the Soviet hordes showed up and started tearing up the place.


Austrians liked being German more than they’ll admit.


WRT Austrians vs. Germans, a couple of points: First off, Germany wasn’t even a nation until 1871 while Austria (as the Austro-Hungarian Empire) was around for quite a bit longer, so even though in MODERN history, Austria tends to be a wallflower standing in the back while Germany does the heavy lifting, prior to 1871 it was the other way around.

Second, when I was in Germany our “Head start” instructor (German language courses for newly assigned GIs and dependents) was a former Luftwaffe Stuka pilot. He HATED the Austrians because during his 5 years in a Soviet POW camp after the war, the Austrians were given special treatment in exchange for renouncing their ties with Germany.

But the teacher, Herr Decker, always pointed out that these same Austrians who supposedly “rejected” Germany were more than happy to wear the ribbons and decorations awarded to them by the Luftwaffe when it benefited them.


Austria, treated as a German-conquered country by at least the Western Allies, was not denazified like Germany was. Many Austrians not directly held for war crime nastiness simply “skated” after the war and the same restrictions/prohibitions on things nazi in Germany don’t exist there.

Also, hunting for war souvenirs, gold, people who may’ve done stuff years ago, etc. out there wasn’t felt sensible up through the ’80s. Cranky, secretive old dudes and hunting, boating, etc. “accidents”… you do the Math.


And who can forget Kurt Waldheim, a good Austrian who conveniently forgot/denied his service in the Wehrmacht and rose to be Secretary General of the UN.


Oh, yes, more of that where he came from.


Just ignore those Ukrainian units.

And the Canadian parliament.


People seem to forget that Ukraine was an integral part of Russia for a couple of hundred years, much longer than those treasonous confederate states had been part of the US. Leonid Brezhnev and Leon Trotsky, for example, were Ukrainian.


“I got better…”

Commissioner Wretched

Dr. Felton’s videos on YouTube are a must if you’re any kind of a WWII history buff. The man is just good at what he does.


Does Jake hate Austrian Nazis as much as he hates Illinois Nazis? Will this site become a magnet for protests ala Atlanta’s “Cop City”? It is odd that the birthplace of a person who created a police state is slated to become a state owned police building.


Germans (and I presume Austrians) don’t waste perfectly good buildings. In Nurmberg the Kongresshalle, a truly impressive building meant to be the HQ of the Nazi party, is still in use. My wife had relatives who lived in a building, which is still in use, built before indoor plumbing was invented. To use the toilet you need to climb a flight of stairs inside the bathroom. It was truly weird sitting on that throne looking down at the rest of the bathroom. In that same town there were (probably still are) buildings made with “wattle and daub”.


Wasting perfectly good buildings was the job of the eighth air force.

Commissioner Wretched

“It is odd that the birthplace of a person who created a police state is slated to become a state owned police building.”

Irony. Ironic, isn’t it?  😊 


I’m glad that they’re not tearing the building.

It is important to keep history alive, no matter how uncomfortable, so as to have the ability to contextualize it.
I formulated that theory at Fort Benning, Georgia.

Also, the N-words are kommen! The N-words are kommen! (see below)


German also does not have a native polite word for “person of sub-Saharan African ancestry” so they barrowed Das Negro from English since WW2. Jewish folk there came up Schwartze (Black) for those reasons much earlier.


Guess what the word for color black is in Spanish?


Pretty much.


Hitler was also a vegetarian, loved dogs and did not smoke.

Are those bad too?


I’ll take those beers…. and that Frau, please and thank you.