The respectable National Geographic recently revealed Croatia's dark secret from the past – a story about the island of Goli otok, the site of a political prison in use when Croatia was part of Yugoslavia.
Bob Thissen, the Dutch photographer whose biggest passion is researching and exploring abandoned buildings, recently visited Goli otok and was absolutely shocked by what he found there.
‘’The eerie Goli otok – branded ‘’Croatia’s Alcatraz’’ as Thissen described the island, was open in 1949 till 1989 as a political prison for those who cooperated with the Soviet Union as well as for political figures who were accused and convicted of ‘’counter-revolutionary action’’. According to Amnesty International, around 50,000 prisoners were held there, and 600 of them died.
Thissen believes the haunting history can still be felt while walking around the site even to this day, despite being abandoned for 28 years. He also stated that prisoners were tortured there and inmates were forced to beat each other in the ''living hell''. ‘’The prison had small dark and uncomfortable cells with unbearable conditions and was a mix of a Gulag work camp and prison’’, said Thissen.
Goli otok means ''barren island'' and actually, there is almost no vegetation at all, just a barren land. This eerie island in the Adriatic Sea is also uninhabited. However, Thissen advises people to visit the island, which can be explored without breaking the law.
''I have been to Alcatraz as well; it is the same idea, a prison on a 'barren island,' which is the translation for Goli Otok. 'The only difference is that Alcatraz is preserved better, I believe a lot of stuff was stolen from the island'', concluded Thissen who shared his impressions in the British Daily Mail.