VIENNA -- The grave of Adolf Hitler's parents has been dismantled because it had become a memorial site for neo-Nazis, a parish priest in the Austrian town of Leonding told the German news agency dpa on Thursday, citing a statement by a relative of the dictator.
"I am concerned that the grave of my forebears has repeatedly been abused for expressions of sympathy," read the statement by an elderly woman distantly related to Hitler who had tended to the grave -- a task that had become harder with age.
"Considering all this, I have decided to give up the usage rights," she had written in the statement quoted by Leonding's Catholic priest Kurt Pittertschatscher.
In November, someone had placed a vase with the symbol for the Third Reich's paramilitary SS unit on the resting site of Alois and Klara Hitler, while a plaque commemorating their son's 120th birthday was found there in 2009.
"It has been known for some time that the grave had been abused as a pilgrimage site by neo-Nazis," said Robert Eiter, a leading anti-Fascist activist who had fought for the destruction of the grave in the town in the province of Upper Austria.
Buses full of far-right sympathizers had visited the site, he said, citing reports by local citizens. Curious tourists had also come to have a look, he added.
His organization contacted the Catholic church, which got in touch with Hitler's relative to talk about this problem.
The large gravestone was taken away and the burial plot can now be used by another family, although the bones of Hitler's parents are to remain in the ground, the priest said.
Last year, the German community of Wunsiedel removed the remains of Hitler's deputy Rudolf Hess, as his resting place had also become a far-right pilgrimage site.
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