Lepoglava prison was formed in 1854 in a monastery formerly owned by the Pauline Fathers, which was transformed by the authorities into a penitentiary (this order would wait until 2001 for a part of its property there to be returned to the bishopric). The prison was subsequently used by Austro-Hungary, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, the Independent State of Croatia and Communist Yugoslavia, before its current role as the main penitentiary in the Republic of Croatia.
During the twentieth century, the prison was a home for numerous "unwanted" groups[clarification needed] and political prisoners. This occurred during the Kingdom of Yugoslavia (1918–1941), when Communists and revolutionaries were incarcerated, along with such notables as Josip Broz Tito, Moša Pijade, Rodoljub Čolaković, and Milovan Đilas.
The Independent State of Croatia (1941–45) held dissidents at the prison, including Ante Vokić who attempted a coup in 1944. The prison was used to incarcerate and liquidate[clarification needed] over two thousand anti-fascists. Following World War II, notable prisoners included suspected Axis collaborationists such as Aloysius Stepinac and Ivo Tartaglia. On 5 July 1948, three prisoners were killed by prison authorities after a failed escape attempt. After the Croatian Spring, prisoners included Šime Đodan, Dražen Budiša, Vlado Gotovac, Marko Veselica, Dobroslav Paraga and Franjo Tuđman. A memorial to the victims was erected in 2005.
- History of the Penitentiary Archived 2007-06-13 at the Wayback Machine.; accessed 4 March 2014.
- Djilas: "Memoir of a Revolutionary"[permanent dead link], osa.ceu.hu; accessed 4 March 2014.
- "Blagoslovljeno spomen-obilježje političkim uznicima". Glas Koncila (in Croatian). 17 July 2005. Retrieved 12 January 2016.