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Goli otok (pronounced [ɡôliː ǒtok]; literal translation: barren island, Italian: Isola Calva) is a barren, uninhabited island located in the northern Adriatic Sea just off the coast of Primorje-Gorski Kotar County, Croatia. With an area of approximately 4 square kilometers (1.54 square miles), the island is perhaps best known for its now-abandoned political prison in use when Croatia was part of Yugoslavia.
Goli otok prison
Despite having long been an occasional grazing ground for local shepherds' flocks, the barren island was apparently never permanently settled other than during the 20th century. Throughout World War I, Austria-Hungary sent Russian prisoners of war from Eastern Front to Goli otok.
In 1949, the entire island was officially made into a high-security, top secret prison and labor camp run by the authorities of Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, together with the nearby Sveti Grgur island, which held a similar camp for female prisoners. Until 1956, throughout the Informbiro period, it was used to incarcerate political prisoners. These included known and alleged Stalinists, but also other Communist Party of Yugoslavia members or even nonparty citizens accused of exhibiting sympathy or leanings towards the Soviet Union. Many anticommunist (Serbian, Croatian, Macedonian, Albanian and other nationalists etc.) were also incarcerated on Goli otok. Non-political prisoners were also sent to the island to serve out simple criminal sentences and some of them were sentenced to death. The total number of prisoners and massacred victims is unknown but Vladimir Dedijer estimates 32,000 male prisoners in Goli otok only; other historians estimates 4,000 killed.
The prison inmates were forced to labor (in a stone quarry, pottery and joinery), without regard to the weather conditions: in the summer the temperature would rise as high as 35 to 40 °C (95 to 104 °F), while in the winter they were subjected to the chilling bora wind and freezing temperatures. Inmates were also regularly beaten and humiliated either by guards or, predominantly, by other inmates. Guards did not kill any inmate but they did not prevent inmates from killing each other either.
After Yugoslavia normalized relations with the Soviet Union, Goli otok prison passed to the provincial jurisdiction of the Socialist Republic of Croatia (as opposed to the Yugoslav federal authorities). Regardless, the prison remained a taboo topic in Yugoslavia. Antonije Isaković wrote the novel Tren (Moment) about the prison in 1979, waiting until after Josip Broz's death in 1980 to release it. The book became an instant bestseller.
The prison was shut down in 1988 and completely abandoned in 1989. Since then it has been left to ruin. Today it is frequented by the occasional tourist on a boat trip and populated by shepherds from Rab. Former Croatian prisoners are organized into the Association of Former Political Prisoners of Goli otok. In Serbia, they are organized into the Society of Goli otok.
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- Adem Demaçi ‒ Kosovar-Albanian politician and author
- Alija Izetbegović ‒ former president of Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Amdi Bajram ‒ Macedonian Roma politician
- Dijon Jevremov ‒ persecuted Christian
- Dobroslav Paraga ‒ Croatian politician
- Dragoljub Mićunović ‒ Serbian partisan, sociologist, and politician
- Dragoslav Mihailović ‒ Serbian writer
- Panko Brashnarov ‒ Bulgarian and Macedonian politician
- Petre Piruze ‒ Macedonian partisan
- Šaban Bajramović ‒ Serbian Roma musician
- Teki Dervishi ‒ Albanian writer
- Tine Logar ‒ Slovenian linguist
- Venko Markovski ‒ Bulgarian and Macedonian writer
- Vladimir Poležinoski ‒ Macedonian partisan
- Vlado Dapčević ‒ Montenegrin partisan
- Vlado Dijak ‒ Bosnian writer
- Vlasta Velisavljević ‒ Serbian actor
Goli otok in literature
- 1968: Kad su cvetale tikve ‒ fictional novel by Dragoslav Mihailović about 1950s political purges against Stalinists
- 1981: Noč do jutra ‒ fictional novel by Slovenian author, Branko Hofman
- 1984: Umiranje na obroke ‒ autobiographical book by Slovenian author, Igor Torkar, about Goli otok prison conditions
- 1984: Goli Otok: The Island of Death ‒ non-fiction book by Croatian author, Venko Markovski, detailing a history of Goli otok prison
- 1990: Martin Muma ‒ autobiographical book by Croatian poet/author, Ligio Zanini, about his imprisonment in Goli otok prison
- 1991: Čas, ki ga ni ‒ autobiographical book by Slovenian author, Radovan Hrast, about his imprisonment in Goli otok prison
- 1995: Sabbath's Theater ‒ fictional novel by author, Philip Roth
- 1997: Goli Otok: Italiani nel Gulag di Tito ‒ fictional novel by Italian-Croatian author, Giacomo Scotti
- 1997: Tito's Hawaii ‒ fictional novel by Yugoslavian-born author, Rade Panic
- 1997: Bando,sagni glavu ‒ autobiographical book by Goli otok prison survivor, Vilim Lončarić
- 2002: Brioni ‒ political essay by Slovenian author, Drago Jančar
- 2008: Blindly (The Margellos World Republic of Letters) ‒ fictional novel by Italian author, Claudio Magris
- 2004: Prigionieri del silenzio ‒ fictional novel by author, Giampaolo Pansa
- 2007: Island of the World ‒ fictional novel by author, Michael D. O'Brien, about one prisoner's time in Goli otok prison and his eventual escape
Goli otok in film/television
- 2007: Goli Otok ‒ documentary film directed by Darko Bavoljak
- 2009: Die Geschichte der Gefängnisinsel Goli otok ‒ German-language documentary film with 8 former prisoners; produced/directed by Reinhard Grabher
- 2013: Lost Survivors ‒ Travel Channel reality TV survival series episode entitled "Prison Island"
- Donja Klada » Goli otok
- Višestruki ubojica s Golog otoka opet ubio - Jutarnji.hr
- read in Novi prilozi za biografiju Josipa Broza Tita 1984 last edition
- Goli otok - zloglasna Titova kaznionica | Priča dana | DW.DE | 14.07.2009
- Daniel J. Goulding, Liberated cinema: the Yugoslav experience, 1945-2001, Indiana University Press, 2002. (p. 159)
- Goli otok website Quote: "This picture of a room for musicians was taken in 1990, in other words directly after Golis relinquishment."
- Slobodna Dalmacija
- Spomen žrtvama Golog otoka na Adi | Glas javnosti
- Tito's Hawaii by Rade Panic
- Darko Bavoljak
- Goli otok Documentary in the Works
- "Travel Channel's Lost Survivors episode, "Prison Island" partly filmed on Croati's Goli otok island". travelchannel.com. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Goli otok.|
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