Croatia: Make Goli Otok Memorial To Victims Of Communist Crimes!

Goli Otok/Barren Island Communist Yugoslavia prison for political prisoners

Goli Otok/Barren Island
Communist Yugoslavia prison
for political prisoners


On 31 July 2014 the Croatian government announced its so-called “Projects 100” – an action of the State Office for State Property Management (DUUDI) which aims to put into functionality the state property, or use them as an engine of development of local units and raise significant funds, opinions and ideas to the public. The public is invited to express an interest, to submit opinions, suggestions etc by 15 September 2014; contact email address:

All interested parties can submit proposals, which will be reviewed and public tenders for the lease, rental, sale, etc.., will follow.

Czech villa on island of Vis

Czech villa on island of Vis

This action is about 100 prime state owned properties and 20 million square meters of undeveloped to developed construction sites and buildings. Properties are located in all counties, and most often involves the former military property. (PDF Table of properties on offer)

The State Department has in its press release named some of the most attractive properties from the list and these include villas in Lovran, Opatija, Dubrovnik and Plitvice, former political school of Tito in Kumrovec, military base Muzil in Pula, Hotel Iz from Zadar, the Czech villa on the island of Vis. Extracting and Duilovo in Split, Kovcanje in Mali Losinj, Sisak Steel Mill, Goli Island (Communist held prison island), residential buildings in Zagreb, data center Deanovec and Vjesnik media building in Zagreb.


Duilovo in Split, Croatia

Duilovo in Split, Croatia

The aim is to put into place functionality of the real estate assets of Croatian sea and this can be in the service of economic growth and should be the engine of development of local and regional government, and it is also an opportunity for innovators and entrepreneurs, investors, county, municipality, for those with the vision and idea, “said DUUDI Office.

Muzil in Pula, Croatia

Muzil in Pula, Croatia

One property from this list that captures my attention is Goli Otok (Naked/Barren Island) – indeed it captures the attention of many. Naked Island was a high security, top secret prison island during communist Yugoslavia where political prisoners (those who did not agree with communism) in their tens of thousands were sent, without trial or any due process of justice or right to a defence, from 1949 until 1988! It was a place where the worst breaches of human rights the world had ever seen were perpetrated. It was a place of harsh hard-labour, torture and death that persisted during Tito’s reign in Yugoslavia and after his death in 1980.

Goli Otok has no place on the government’s list of “Projects 100” – it should be made into a memorial place for communist crimes, just as Jasenovac is a memorial for the crimes of the Holocaust!


Villa Cingrija in Dubrovnik, Croatia

Villa Cingrija in Dubrovnik, Croatia

Indeed the Association Goli Otok “Ante Zemljar” has recently written a letter to the Croatian government expressing similar suggestions. “We hold that the only correct path is for the government of Croatia to put forth a law that would declare Goli Otok a memorial area, that a specific form of tourism be developed for it, which would be based on the development of democracy, on human rights teachings and on the development of the culture of remembrance…” the letter says.

Indeed, today, the memory of Goli Otok remains deeply embedded in minds of the generations which grew up in communist Yugoslavia. Profound distress at the very thought of its existence during the times of communism lingers like a plague, like a bitter-angry piercing taste that needs neutralisation; needs appropriate closure and that closure can only be realised by ways that include the making Goli Otok into a memorial deserved by all the victims of communist crimes, wherever they occurred.

The coming month will tell as to whether the Croatian people, associations, businesses… come up with ideas that will see a viable and lucrative revival of the listed properties on the “Action Projects 100” Croatian government initiative. Certainly, many have come to atrocious state of disrepair and abandonment, which only feed despair and depression. It’s a pity though that corruption in public departments (local and state) still reigns “mighty” and one could easily see many a good idea fall into the gutters. Regardless of that, though, I do trust ideas and suggestions will pour in abundantly, for if they do not, one can easily visualise the government selling off these properties on the cheap to selected buyers just as it has done for most of the corruptly privatized concerns in the past two decades. As to Goli Otok a Petition to the Parliament regarding turning it into a memorial place of communist crimes as well as a submission to that effect to DUUDI would be welcomed by the masses, I’m sure! Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)


Here are photos of some other prime real estate on offer in “Projects 100”

Villa Lovor Lovran, Croatia

Villa Lovor Lovran, Croatia


Villa Izvor, Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

Villa Izvor, Plitvice Lakes, Croatia


Villa Toplice Lovran, Croatia

Villa Toplice Lovran, Croatia


Political School from Tito's Yugoslavia in Kumrovec, Croatia

Political School from Tito’s Yugoslavia in Kumrovec, Croatia




  1. Serbs portray themselves as the major Balkan victims of the Second World War, but conceal the Chetnik collaboration with Nazi fascists, including systematic genocide that they had committed against several peoples, including the Bosniaks and Jews. Although Serbian historians contend that the persecution of the Jews of Serbia was entirely the responsibility of Germans and began only with the German occupation, this is self- serving fiction. Fully six months before the Nazi invasion of Yugoslavia, Serbia had issued legislation restricting Jewish participation in the economy and university enrolment. 94 percent of Serbia’s 16,000 Jews were exterminated, with the considerable cooperation of the Serbian government, the Serbian Orthodox Church, the Serbian State Guard, the Serbian police and the Serbian public. 120000 Bosniaks killed by Serbs during second world war. By February 1943 the Western Allies condemned the Serb Chetniks as Nazi collaborators.

    • A known fact about WWII Serbia, Muhamed,that Serbs know how to camouflage – no Holocaust memorial place in Serbia and yet it was one of the first European countries to declare “Judenfrei” (Jew-Free) by May 1942 and by then had exterminated 94% of Serbia’s Jews under the government of Milan Nedic who collaborated with Nazi Germany and brought the Jews to their peril. While other countries of the region have long ago acknowledged this terrible past, Serbia bathes in fantasy and denial. Nothing new there – sad, though

    • Muhamed,
      On a similar note…
      I don’t know if you are a Bosniak, but just for information, the largest slaughter of Bosnian Muslims in the 20th Century was not Srebrenica. It was Bleiburg and the Death Marches that followed. When Tito’s partisans slaughtered those fleeing Croats and Bosniaks (including the elderly, women, children…) this was the largest slaughter in the region. More than in Srebrenica in the 1990s. More than killings in the 1990s war overall. Something to remember and repeat and teach in schools over there and abroad. If people do not know their history, it is repeated.

      • Yes I am a Bosniak
        What happend in Bleiburg was the movement of fleeing forces towards Austria those Croats and Bosniaks who believed in the indepedent state of Croatia had lost the war with the Yogoslav communists and was now being chased thousands of Croat and Muslim civilians joined them which in return made the communists believe those civilians was being supporters and they killed many. What many people don’t know is that many Muslims joined Ustaša in self-defence after the Serbs commited genocide aganist Muslims. The Ustaša in Bosnia was a self-defence group that saved many un-armed Muslims from genocide.

      • There was/is no shame in having been as Ustasha, Muhamed, for most were decent people wanting independence. It’s those who committed crimes that gave them all a bad name.

      • Ina I know but because of war crimes commited by some Ustasha the name has been dirty since 1945….. but figthing for indepedence and dignity is not a crime….. I know old people in my family who still celebrates 10th April and remembers the time when they got equality and pogress

      • Know what you mean, Muhamed 🙂

      • Muhamed
        Ina is right. No shame in it at all. The Chetniks and Partisans wiped out Bosniaks and Croats in eastern Bosnia BEFORE the Second World War. Our own Catholic nuns the Martyrs of the Drina River were some of the most famous Croatians slaughtered in eastern Bosnia as well. You know your history. Good for you. Sadly Yugoslavs and their sympathizers have lied since 1945. Yugoslav diplomats, so-called historians and others have been making up history for decades. I liken it to how the Soviets lied about the Katyn Forest massacres of Poles. The truth will come out eventually. The Partisans/Communists and Chetniks killed more Croats and Bosniaks than the Ustashe or Domobrani ever did. (See the work of Michael McAdams to name a few.) Sadly all you hear now is nonsense about Handjari etc. These groups formed because under the First Yugoslavia and the so-called Serb King and his gendarmes non-Serbs suffered tremendous persecution. Sadly the regimes in the region still refuse to accept the truth and continue with Communist lies and propaganda.

  2. Ina,

    Try to get information from the department about the process for the sale. I sent in an information request by email a week ago and have received no response yet.

    RED FLAG: Another oddity is the distribution of properties that are being sold. Croatia has a socialist SDP government. The two counties in Croatia are are the most red, even separatist according to the Istrian Democratic party, are Istarska (major city Pula) and Primorsko-Goranska (major city Rijeka) counties.

    Of the total of almost 20 million square meters being placed up for sale, in these two counties (out of 21) about 10.6 million square meters – 54.5% – are being offered for sale. Are the “reds” going to sell the properties for cheap to their friends???

    Istarska = 3.9 million m2
    Primorsko-Goranska = 6.7 million m2

    • I suspect lots will occur “under the table” as I suggested at the end of my post, Zeljko. In Istria and everywhere the “former” Reds are getting bolder and bolder – one can’t even get an interview for a job unless one has the “right” political party membership – just as it was in communist Yugoslavia. The more there is public debate on this the better are the chances of moving forward and leaving the communist ways behind…

  3. Wilkinson says:

    Oh for crying out loud! It’s so friggin typical of this government to open such an important public call for submissions right in the middle of the summer holidays season when most people in Croatia are on the beaches or somewhere else…and close it just as the season draws to an end and people start regular lives…how terrible!

    • Good point, Wilkinson. Seems the government doesn’t really want too many submissions or expressions of interest from citizens…but. let’s wait and see

    • Have you ever seen a 45 days RFP process anywhere in the civilized world for such a large property sale?

      Out of curiosity – what is the process?
      Will it be a public auction where all bids are visible?
      I hope there is some transparency.

      • The way that I understand it, Zeljko, is that until 15 September ideas, views, submissions of interest for particular projects are received, then the government is assessing these after which a choice is made and then public tender advertised …I am not sure whether the government plans to add ideas of its own, projects etc…all in all quite badly done as it has no Guidelines for ideas/projects, which should be part of such a project. There’s a link to the Form for expression of interest/ideas etc and it very basic: Name, address, contact and “ideas” – a Word document.

  4. A very interesting read – I served with NATO in 1996 in Sarajevo at IFOR/SFOR HQ – I spent several days resting in Split and interestingly rested up in Duilovo for 2 nights prior to flying home. I think the plan to utilise the properties to develop business is excellent. But I agree totally that Goli Otok would be best served as a memorial – an excellent blog post – good luck Scott

  5. A very interesting post. I hope that Goli Otok becomes a memorial park. 🙂

  6. Goli Otok and any other prison camp, as there were many in the region, should be memorial sites. I can travel to Robben Island in South Africa to see where political prisoners like Mandela and thousands of others were enslaved. I can travel to Auschwitz to see where a holocaust was carried out. I can travel to the House of Terror in Budapest where I can see walls covered with the faces of the innocents crushed by the evils of Communism.
    Why not teach locals and tourists in Croatia/BiH about the horrors that took place in places like Goli Otok ? What are the authorities afraid of ?
    Many books have been written about Goli Otok: see Zoretic’s ‘Goli Otok, Hell in the Adriatic’:
    But nothing can replace seeing the place in person.
    Ten years ago I travelled to former Serb-run concentration camps from the 1990s wars, in places like Knin and others near Banja Luka, where we obviously traveled in secret. In Knin, the camp was in the former Dom Zdravlja (medical) building. I even saw the cell where a friend of mine had been kept and beaten mercilessly. The horror is palpable. I encourage anyone to go to see these places. Many are marked with plaques from the organizations that deal with prisoners of Serb run camps like the: HDLSKL Hrvatsko Drustvo Logorasa Koncentracijskih logora. People need to see the reality of war and what disturbed people did, not in the name of religion, but in the name of a perverse ideology called Communism that was/is intent on crushing man’s dignity and erasing his soul.
    What the world never hears about, the world assumes never happened.

  7. …the Croats should consider whether girly-man Josipovic, Milanovic, Stipe Mesic, Vesna Pusic, Pupovac et al. should be put in Goli Otok for as long as they have held office in Croatia! Or better yet, if you have seen the movie “Midnight Express” (1980), about an American (mistaken identity) who ends up in a Turkish prison!

  8. Reblogged this on idealisticrebel and commented:
    Communism seems to never be

  9. Stunning sites to be remembered … memorial sites. Thank you for another history lesson !

  10. Reblogged this on Dak's Bays.


  1. […] else then because his own father/family are said to have headed the Goli Otok (Naked Island) torture and false imprisonment camp Yugoslav communists held for decades to shut out innocent people who did not agree with communism, is nowhere to be seen. His […]

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