VIENNA: The tombstone marking the grave of Adolf Hitler's parents, a place of pilgrimage for neo-Nazis, has been removed from an upper Austrian village cemetery at the request of a descendant, and the grave is ready for a new burial, officials said on Friday.

Walter Brunner, mayor of Leonding village, said the stone with the faded black and white portrait photos of Alois and Klara Hitler was taken down on Wednesday. Village priest Kurt Pitterschatscher said the rented grave was available for a new lease.

Austrian graves are usually leased for periods of 10 years. The lease is renewable and can be willed to friends or relatives.

Asked whether he would have trouble persuading people to let their loved ones share a grave with the parents of a man whose name is a universal epitome of evil, Pitterschatscher said, “I really haven't thought about it.”

Pitterschatscher said the stone and black marble marker, topped by a granite cross, was removed without ceremony by a stonemason hired by the relative, described as an elderly female descendant of Alois Hitler's first wife, Anna. What's left at the site is a white gravel square and a tree.

He said he did not know the woman personally and did not identify her by name but cited her request for termination of the grave lease as saying she was too old to care for it and tired of it “being used for manifestations of sympathy” for Hitler.Hitler's roots are in Braunau, near Leonding, which is commonly identified as his hometown after the village that he was born in was incorporated into Braunau in 1938. But he and his family moved to Leonding in 1898 when he was 9 and lived there until Hitler was age 15.

Leonding itself first assumed cult status for his followers after Hitler visited his parents' grave and the nearby family house following the 1938 annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany.

The family's Leonding house now warehouses coffins for the cemetery, and Brunner said in a telephone interview that — unlike the more than 100-year-old grave — it did not draw Hitler fans.

Anti-extremist groups say neo-Nazis, sometimes coming in groups, placed flowers and Nazi symbols on the grave.—AP

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