Adolf Hitler’s birthplace

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This post is about a 24km walk from Katzenberg to Braunau am Inn. I walk past the house where Adolf Hitler was born.

I got up shortly after five in the morning, before the first fisherman appeared. Then I sat there for a while, looking at the river.

Inn not Danube

I think I forgot to tell you that we left the Danube at Passau, and that we were walking along the Inn now. For some reason the river looked much bigger than I had imagined it to be. But it made sense. People along the Austrian part of the Danube had been telling me that they looked toward the Inn for signs of a flood. If the Inn was flooded, then the Danube would carry high water as well.

the way to Braunau

It took me a few hours to get to Braunau. On the way there I got surprised by an intense but short thunderstorm. I managed to wait it out under a bus stop, and then, a bit later, I took a long lunch break next to an old, wooden farm house that looked like it had long been abandoned.

And then I was there, in the town whose name only invoked one thought: Hitler.

Hitler’s house

First there was a supermarket with a large parking lot. Then I saw the backside of a large building. It had an interesting protruding balcony of sorts, and for a moment I caught myself thinking: let this not be Hitler’s house, please. It’s too pretty!

But then I walked around the house and noticed the memorial stone in front of it: FOR PEACE, FREEDOM, AND DEMOCRACY. NEVER AGAIN FASCISM. MILLIONS OF DEAD ARE A WARNING. it said.

This was the house where, in 1889, a baby with the name Adolf Hitler had been born.

the reality of now

The building looked vacant but in good condition. Next door was a vintage store shop. I asked the owner if there were ever instances of neo-nazis coming here to lay flowers or candles or in some other dumb way commemorate their idol. She said no, that didn’t happen. Tourists came to gawk at it and take pictures. For the locals it was just a nuisance.

I stood there for a while, looking at the cafรฉ next door, at the pub across the street that was for sale, at the radiator store, and at the flower shop.

The building had long belonged to a private person, but now the state had finally bought it, and they were talking about what to do with it:

  • tear it down?
  • turn it into a museum of totalitarianism?
  • put a police station in it?

Apparently they were leaning towards the latter option.


walk from Katzenberg to Braunau am Inn:

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