European youth appalled by dilapidated Goli Otok ex-prison buildings

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02.09.2018.

- (PICTURED: This prison was once a living hell where prisoners were tortured and beaten often times by one another, forced by guards, its dubbed the croatian alcatraz and despite being abandoned for 28 years it still holds its haunting history) - Eerie footage shows the remnants of the Croatian abandoned Alcatraz prison where inmates were forced to beat one another, described as a Living Hell. The horrors of Goli Otok still seem to exude from the hollowed-out core that remains just over two miles off the Croatian coast. The have cells crumbled and ceilings collapsed, a mere memory of the brutality inflicted at the prison and political re-education facility dubbed the Croatian Alcatraz. The prison that opened in 1949 for a period of time was home to those who supported Joseph Stalin after Yugoslavia had broken away from the country and their ideals. Over its forty years existence, Amnesty International estimate up to 50,000 prisoners were held for political reeducation and other reports suggest up to 600 died. Prisoner accounts described the place as a living hell, recalling how guards forced them to beat and torture one another, in a bid to obliterate any allegiance to Stalinism or one another. Bob Thissen, 36, from Heerlen, the Netherlands, believes the haunting history can still be felt while walking around the site even to this day, despite being abandoned for 28 years. -, Image: 346413374, License: Rights-managed, Restrictions: BOB THISSEN / CATERS NEWS, Model Release: no, Credit line: Profimedia, Caters News
Profimedia, Caters News

Goli Otok prison camp building

Youth from 12 European countries on Wednesday visited the Adriatic island of Goli Otok, a Northern Adriatic island which was used by the Yugoslav communist regime for the internment of political opponents, and the visitors expressed their astonishment that the buildings which used to be part of the prison complex were left to decay and with the lack of information about the fate of political prisoners.

Their visit was organised within the programme of a summer camp entitled "Venues of victims//Venues of perpetrators."

Goli Otok, which translates as Naked/Barren Island, was used as a hard-labour detention camp for people accused by by the Communist authorities of supporting Soviet leader Joseph Stalin after Yugoslav Communist leader Josip Broz Tito severed ties with the Soviet Union in 1948 or who for whatever reason were declared enemies of the state.

 

The international summer camp for the young Europeans will be held until August 31 in Zagreb, Vukovar, Pula and Rijeka with visits to the Jasenovac WWII memorial centre, Lipa apart from Goli Otok.

The camp is dedicated to facing the past and is organised by the European Youth Education Centre from Weimer, Germany, the Documenta NGO and other partner ogranisations and has attracted about 65 participants.

After inspecting the island a discussion was held about interpretations of the socialist era and the culture of remembering in post-socialist countries, headed by Dr. Monika Kareniuskaite from the Genocide and Resistance Research Center of Lithuania.

Other speakers included Uta Gerlant from the Lindenstrasse Memorial Centre in Potsdam, Germany  and Vesna Teršelić and Dr. Boris Stamenić form the Documenta - Centre for Facing the Past from Zagreb.

Teršelić said that urgent work needed to be prepared for the conservation and permanent preservation of Goli Otok and Grgur islands.

Gerlant explained why Goli Otok is relevant for other European countries, underscoring the issue of universal repression and violence. She added that this visit could be of significance with regard to launching a joint initiative for the preservation of Goli Otok.