In the 19th century, the tiny village of Braunau am Inn on the Austrian-German border gave the world the classic Christmas carol Stille Nacht (Silent Night), written by Franz Xaver Gruber for the guitar and sung by mournful German troops in the World War I trenches.
In the 20th century, the village gave us the Schneider brothers. Willi and Rudi enthralled audiences worldwide with their astonishing psychic powers until, in the 1920s, Rudy was caught cheating and quit for the auto mechanic business.
But Braunau made its name at 6:30PM on a balmy 20 April, 1889, when a fussy child was born in an apartment above the Gasthof zum Pommer at Salzburger Vorstadt 15.
By his 29th birthday, Adolf Hitler would rise from vagrant flophouse painter to heavily decorated war hero. By his 44th birthday, he would be appointed the youngest Chancellor in German history at the head of a youth movement that promised to revolutionize the moribund nation. Ten days after his 56th birthday, he would be dead, a failure and a suicide, well on his way to being reviled as the most evil political leader in modern history.
So everything has to start somewhere, and 72 years later, the Branau authorities have finally had enough of Hitler starting here. After endless political haggling and obfuscation—after years of even paying the building owner 4,800 Euros per month to keep the place empty—they now plan to renovate his birthplace out of recognition. No more furtive neo-Nazi pilgrimages for these timid folk.