House of Responsibility

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Gerhard Skiba, Andreas Maislinger and Gedenkdiener in front of Adolf Hitler's birthhouse remembering Austria's Righteous Among The Nations.

The House of Responsibility (HRB) in Braunau am Inn is the idea of establishing an international meeting place and a place of learning in the birth house of Adolf Hitler. People from all countries, backgrounds, religions and cultures should meet in order to discuss, learn and develop projects revolving around the concept of responsibility relating to the dimensions of past, present and future. The main demography shall be young people. The idea for a House of Responsibility originates from the founder of the Gedenkdienst and chairman of the Austrian Service Abroad Dr. Andreas Maislinger.

Conceptual background[edit]

The conceptual challenge surrounding the birthplace of Adolf Hitler roots in the fact that the place is neither a “perpetrator’s site”, such as the Obersalzberg, the Brown House or the Reichsparteitagsgelände; nor is it a “victim’s site”, such as Auschwitz, Mauthausen or Hartheim, since Adolf Hitler was merely born in that house and lived there for only two months as an infant. Nothing relating to the Holocaust was ever consciously decided or done in that house.

Nevertheless, the birthplace of Adolf Hitler is a place of symbolic meaning, a symbol of the birth of the Holocaust, for some a symbol for the birth of evil. The challenge posed is how to commemorate a place that merely is a symbol.

The House of Responsibility is about the creation of another symbol, of a counter-symbol with the opposite meaning of what the birth of Adolf Hitler signifies. The House of Responsibility intends and envisions to turn the symbol of the birth of the Holocaust into a symbol of responsibility, learning, peace and creativity while concurrently turning the city of Braunau am Inn into a city representing the same values.[1] [2]

The House of Responsibility would be based on the infrastructure and community of the Austrian Service Abroad and its worldwide partner organizations.

Origins: Braunau sets a sign[edit]

After the FPÖ (Austrian Freedom Party) took part in the government under Jörg Haider in early 2000, the "Braunauer Rundschau" (Braunau review) started to collect signatures under the slogan "Braunau setzt ein Zeichen" (Braunau sets a sign).[3][4] Andreas Maislinger, an Austrian historian and founder of the Gedenkdienst and Braunau Contemporary History Days, reacted on the call and suggested setting up a House of Responsibility in the house where Adolf Hitler was born.[5]

Past – Present – Future[edit]

The "Braunau review" presented the idea of Andreas Maislinger on May 4, 2000:

Concept HRB


Volunteers from all countries, Austrian Zivildieners and former Austrian Servants Abroad should work and live together in the house. Because of this there should take place a constant exchange of ideas. The 'House of Responsibility' should be something completely new, split into three stories, where the 'unwanted inheritance' and the refurbishment of the background of the NS should take place on the first floor. The second floor will be devoted to the present, and concrete help for people will be offered for example through the Austrian Social Service and also by human rights – and third-world projects. On the third floor ideas for a more peaceful future should be worked out.

Philosophical basis for this project is the book 'Das Prinzip Verantwortung' (The concept responsibility) written by Hans Jonas in 1979.


The project couldn't be realized in the following years but the idea of taking responsibility remained.[6] In 2005 the owner of a house close to where Hitler was born offered his house for the project. In 2002 members of the Gedenkdienst remembered the Austrian Righteous Among the Nations in front of Hitler's birth house.[7] In October 2009 mayor Gerhard Skiba argued for the first time in support of a 'House of Peace' or 'House of Responsibility' in Hitler's Birthhouse in Austria's Newspaper Kurier.[8]

In the first half of 2014 the HRB gained increasing support by the public and by acknowledged international organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League in New York, the Auschwitz Jewish Center in Oswiecim, the European Roma Rights Center and the John Rabe and International Safety Zone Memorial Hall in Nanjing.[9]

On June 2 2020 the Austrian Minister of Interior announced plans for the Austrian police to move into the birthplace of Adolf Hitler. [10] The Austrian Service Abroad opposes this decision and lobbies against it.

Supporting individuals[edit]

"It is not an appropriate idea to turn the birth house of Adolf Hitler into a police station. It should be a dynamic center where people of divergent views come together to meet and learn about democracy and anti-semitism. A House of Responsibility would be very important and valuable from the viewpoint of the Simon Wiesenthal Center." Rabbi Abraham Cooper

Erika Rosenberg
Emil Brix, Erhard Busek, Valie Export, Franz Fischler, Alfred Gusenbauer, Ludwig Laher, Ferdinand Trauttmansdorff, Martha Bißmann,[11] Mina Ahadi[12]
Alberto Dines
Pan Guang
Michel Cullin, Beate Klarsfeld
Aleida Assmann[13] Markus Ferber, Stefan Klein
György Dalos, Paul Lendvai
Ben Segenreich, Moshe Zimmermann
New Zealand
Chris Harris [14]
Wladyslaw Bartoszewski
Ilya Altman
South Africa
Tali Nates [15]
Gerald Nagler
Beat Wyss
Borys Sabarko
United Kingdom
Ladislaus Löb
United States
Abraham Foxman, Branko Lustig, Jack Kliger [16]

Supporting organizations / institutions[edit]

Poland Auschwitz Jewish Center [17]
Anti-Defamation League
Past / Future / Art
European Roma Rights Center

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Turning the birthplace of Adolf Hitler into a House of Responsibility a proposed idea
  2. ^ What will happen to the Hitler-Haus
  3. ^ Austrian Town of Hitler's Birth Aims to Transform 'the Burden' Archived 2011-05-31 at the Wayback Machine, Paul Watson, Los Angeles Times (January 13, 2001)
  4. ^ Impossible to Deny Archived 2011-06-09 at the Wayback Machine (Frankfurter Rundschau Online, February 10, 2001)
  5. ^ History as responsibility - House of Responsibility Archived 2004-08-11 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Hitler's Birthplace Still Struggles With Burden of History Archived 2011-06-09 at the Wayback Machine (Deutsche Welle, September 14, 2006)
  7. ^ Braunau's mayor Gerhard Skiba, AHMS-founder Andreas Maislinger and young Austrians commemorated the Austrian Righteous Archived 2008-11-23 at the Wayback Machine (
  8. ^ What Will Hitler’s House of Birth Become? (Georg Markus) Archived 2011-09-27 at the Wayback Machine, October 11, 2009
  9. ^ Posting of the official Facebook-Site of HRB about the support of the John Rabe and Internationals Safety Zone Memorial Hall in Nanjing
  10. ^ "To 'neutralize' Hitler's birthplace, Austria will turn it into a police station".
  11. ^ "Facebook". Retrieved 2020-12-10.
  12. ^ "Facebook". Retrieved 2020-12-10.
  13. ^ Aleida Assmann support declaration for the House of Responsibility
  14. ^ CEO of Holocaust Museum of New Zealand
  15. ^ Tali Nates, Founder and Executive Director Johannesburg Holocaust & Genocide Centre
  16. ^ Jack Kliger, CEO of Museum of Jewish Heritage New York
  17. ^ Auschwitz Jewish Center supports House of Responsibility

External links[edit]