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Ex-owner of Hitler's birthplace sues Austria over state seizure

A constitutional court official has confirmed a lawsuit against the Austrian state for the seizure of the dictator's birthplace. The owner is arguing that the expropriation failed to meet 'standard legal requirements.'

Gerlinde Pommer, the former owner of Adolf Hitler's birthplace, launched a legal challenge against the Austrian government for expropriating the building, a court official said on Tuesday.

"We received a claim by the owner. This is about the owner contesting the constitutional validity of the law," said a spokesman for the constitutional court.

In December, Austria's parliament voted in favor of seizing the property in the northern town of Branau in a bid to end a long-standing dispute with the owner.

Pommer had rented the building to the interior ministry since 1972, but the agreement collapsed after the government pushed for much-needed renovations.

In 2011, Pommer rejected a proposal for the renovations and abruptly ended the rental agreement.

Parliament voted in favor of the expropriation to effectively prevent the building from becoming a neo-Nazi shrine.

'Never again'

However, Pommer's lawyer argued that the targeted legislation failed to meet the legal criteria for seizure.

"To put it bluntly, the standard legal requirements for an expropriation are missing," Pommer's lawyer Gerhard Lebitsch told Austrian daily "Kurier."

Hilter was born on April 20, 1889. He was responsible for leading Nazi Germany and perpetrating the Holocaust, which left up to 11 million Jews, Poles, Slavs, Romani and members of other ethnic and social groups dead.

Anti-fascist protesters organize a rally each year on Hitler's birthday next to a memorial stone that reads: "For peace, freedom and democracy. Never again fascism, millions of dead warn."

Watch video 04:40

Future of Hitler's house | Focus on Europe

ls/jm (Reuters, AFP)

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