Goli Otok 1956-1988

Goli Otok 1956-1988

One should distinguish between the Goli Otok camp, established with the aim of “political re-education” of Cominformists, and the latter Goli Otok prison. The initial camp was directly managed by the federal UDBA, while the latter prison was under the jurisdiction of the Republic SUP (the Secretariat of Internal Affairs of the Socialist Republic of Croatia). The organisation and rationale of the latter prison were also different, much like the composition of the inmate population.

When the conflict with Stalin ended, Goli Otok was temporarily closed, but the country’s secret police decided that the industrial production on the island was too profitable to be shut down. Although the Goli Otok camp (previously called the Mermer [Marble] Worksite) was named the Penitentiary and corrections facility [KPD – kazneno popravni dom] Rab – Goli Otok already in 1953, it was only after 1956 that a prison for delinquents, young adults, criminals and political prisoners became operational. The share of political prisoners on Goli otok in the period after 1956 is subjected to different estimations. Some of the captives of the former camp had been sentenced to additional imprisonment and brought back to the island after 1956. In addition to returnees, the prison hosted an unknown number of convicts found guilty of ideological offences, frequently including accusations related to ethnic nationalism. Despite the gradual liberalisation of Yugoslavia after 1955, political prisoners were detained on the island until the 1980s.            

The current appearance of the remains of Goli Otok largely dates back to the Goli Otok prison, although many existing buildings survived from the time of the camp. The Goli Otok penitentiary was shut down in 1988, and has subsequently become nearly entirely ruinous.