Two streets still named for Nazis in Hitler’s Austrian hometown

Mathausen Committee urges Braunau to rename streets honoring Josef Reiter, a party faithful, and Franz Resl, a ‘Nazi fanatical who hated Jews’

An exterior view of Adolf Hitler's birth house, in Braunau am Inn, Austria, September 27, 2012. (Kerstin Joensson/AP)
File: An exterior view of Adolf Hitler's birth house, in Braunau am Inn, Austria, September 27, 2012. (Kerstin Joensson/AP)

VIENNA, Austria — An Austrian association Thursday demanded that Adolf Hitler’s hometown of Braunau rename two streets commemorating Nazis and withdraw honorary citizenship from a composer linked to the dictator, denouncing an “insult to victims.”

“It is difficult to believe that in the birthplace of Hitler, one of his associates is still an honorary citizen,” Willi Mernyi, president of the Austrian Mauthausen Committee, said in a statement.

He was referring to Josef Reiter (1862-1939), an “ardent national socialist closely linked to the Fuhrer” who was also born in Braunau.

Reiter and “another Nazi fanatical who hated Jews,” Franz Resl, have streets named after them, the association says.

“It is an insult to victims that must end immediately,” the association said.

The mayor’s office in Braunau did not immediately respond when contacted by AFP.

File: An architect explains details to journalists about the conversion of Adolf Hitler’s birthplace in Braunau, Austria, November 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

The Mauthausen Committee was a Resistance network that began in the homonymous concentration camp in 1944 and works to maintain the memory of the crimes committed there.

In 2016, the Austrian government bought the house in the small town on the German border where Hitler was born in 1889 and began transforming it into a police station to avoid it becoming a neo-Nazi pilgrimage site.

Austria is regularly criticized for not fully recognizing its history.  Earlier this year, a group of authors tried without success to have five of the country’s nine regional anthems re-written because they were the works of Nazi sympathizers.

“Our anthem is our anthem and we are not going to let someone else change it,” Johanna Mikl-Leitner, the conservative president of Lower Austria, said at the time.

Her region’s anthem was written by a member of the Nazi party who supported Germany’s annexation of Austria in 1938.

In 2022, the city of Linz renamed several streets with problematic names, including one named after Ferdinand Porsche, the founder of the car company, because of his Nazi past.

The country long presented itself as a victim of the Nazis, ignoring the complicity of many Austrians.

It was only from the late 1980s that the country began to examine its responsibility in the Holocaust.

In total, 65,000 Austrian Jews were assassinated and 130,000 were forced into exile.

The FPO extreme-right party, founded by former Nazis, has participated in three post-war governments and is leading in polls ahead of legislative elections to be held in 2024.

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