Globe Briefs April 14

Globe Briefs April 14

Austrian government writing law to seize Hitler’s birthplace

The Austrian government reportedly is drafting a law that would transfer ownership of Adolf Hitler’s birthplace to the state.

The owner of the home in Braunau has refused for at least the last five years to sell the property to the Austrian government, which is working to prevent the site in the German border town from becoming a shrine to the neo-Nazi community.

“We are currently examining the creation of a law, which would force a change of ownership and pass the property to the Republic of Austria,” Interior Ministry spokesman Karl-Heinz Grundboeck told the French news agency AFP last week.

“We have come to the conclusion over the past few years that expropriation is the only way to avoid the building being used for the purposes of Nazi” sympathizers, he said.

Braunau resident Gerlinde Pommer’s family has owned the house where Hitler was born on April 20, 1889, for more than a century. The town has tried for decades to purchase the building.

The ministry had rented the home for decades and sublet it to charitable organizations. The house, which draws neo-Nazi visitors, especially on the anniversary of Hitler’s birthday, has stood empty for approximately five years after the owner refused to authorize needed renovations.

The building is listed as a historical landmark and cannot be razed. Hitler’s name does not appear anywhere near the home.

A stone outside the home is inscribed with the words: “Never again Fascism. In memory of millions of dead. For Peace, Freedom and Democracy.”

AIPAC opposes further sanctions relief for Iran

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee opposes further sanctions relief for Iran, citing its ballistic missile tests and its continued backing for sides fighting in the region.

“If Iran wants additional sanctions relief, it must first change its behavior,” the prominent Israel lobby said in an April 7 statement, which was accompanied by statements from members of Congress from both parties opposing additional sanctions relief.

U.S. administration officials reportedly have considered allowing Iran to engage in offshore dollar trading, which would alleviate sanctions on dealing with the United States that remain in place after the Iran nuclear deal.

President Barack Obama, however, said last week that allowing Iran access to dollars is not necessary. Instead, he has said, U.S. officials will endeavor to make it clear to third parties that a range of transactions are now permissible under the Iran nuclear deal.

The Obama administration is concerned that Iranians have yet to feel the effect of the removal of U.S. sanctions, which could reinforce hard-liners in the regime who opposed the sanctions relief for the nuclear rollback deal reached last year between Iran and six major world powers.

AIPAC, joined by some lawmakers from both parties, say that while Iran has observed the letter of the agreement, it has flouted its spirit by testing ballistic missiles, which violates U.N. Security Council resolutions, and by continuing its backing for insurgencies and counterinsurgencies in the region, as well as terrorist groups that target Israel.

In a rare move last week, the lobby blasted as “weak” the sanctions imposed on Iran by the Obama administration in the wake of the missile tests.

Thanks to viral video, Holocaust survivor gets wish to sing at Detroit Tigers game

An 89-year-old Holocaust survivor will sing the American national anthem at a Detroit Tigers baseball game after her granddaughter circulated a video of her that went viral online.

Amid a flood of requests on her behalf, the Tigers invited Hermina Hirsch to fulfill her bucket list wish by singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at their May 21 game, Fox Sports reported last week.

“At my age, I figure that this would do it,” Hirsch, of Southfield, Michigan, told Detroit’s CBS Local. “I don’t want to die before I sing at a baseball game.”

Hirsch survived multiple concentration camps, including the Auschwitz death camp, and lost her parents, three brothers and other relatives in the Holocaust.

Asked by CBS Local if the prospect of singing before thousands of fans at Detroit’s Comerica Park made her nervous, a smiling Hirsch said, “If I lived through the concentration camp, it couldn’t be that bad.”

Born in 1927 in a town in what was then Czechoslovakia, Hirsch was deported to a ghetto in 1944, and then moved among five concentration camps, including Auschwitz.

“She was liberated from a concentration camp (she doesn’t remember the name) in either Germany or Poland on Jan. 21, 1945,” her granddaughter Andrea Hirsch wrote in an email to CBS Local. “She walked and hitched rides with strangers to get back to where she was born.”

Hirsch married Bernard Hirsch in 1947. The couple moved first to New York and then to Detroit. Hirsch sings the national anthem at weekly Holocaust survivor meetings at the Jewish Community Center of Metropolitan Detroit and also sings in her synagogue choir.

“At first when I told her that her video went viral and there’s so many people that caught wind of her story, she didn’t really understand,” Andrea Hirsch told CBS Detroit. “You know, she didn’t really understand how or why, how something like this could happen through social media. She just couldn’t believe how it progressed. … I didn’t even believe this could happen. We’re so excited.”