Goli Otok – a place of regional significance

Authentic places carry an important role for the culture of remembrance and learning about historical events. Goli Otok held captives from all over Yugoslavia. In accordance with this, it carries significant regional meaning.

Goli Otok is, in various ways, present in the minds of many people. The history of this island prison has been the subject of films and literary works, and is at the centre of the wonderful book ‘Life Plays With Me’ by the Israeli author, David Grossman. But, despite this there are many gaps in the knowledge regarding Goli Otok. It is, up to this day, a place and a topic that is misused for nationalist ends. We would like to challenge this with the contents of this guide.

Questions related to the politics of memory hold an important place in the activities of political education of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation. In connection with Goli Otok, it means preserving the memories of the people who were held imprisoned and suffered there. Only a foundation of differentiated observation based on the latest scientific results can fulfil the aim that dealing with Goli Otok and the varied phases of its existence can contribute to understanding and reconciliation.

The project of publishing a virtual interactive guide was originally started by the regional office of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Zagreb. We have started, since 2021, to expand it further into a multilingual, regional content platform. During this year the web page, which already offers content in nine languages, will be further extended. The focus is on creating short biographies and offering educational material. The aim is to make the page an active and available source of information to all those who are interested in history, and for the page to be a place that can be used by teachers for history resources.

We thus hope that the web page will have a growing user base. I sincerely thank all those who have contributed to this project and carry on doing so. I am especially grateful to the Documenta team and particularly Dr Martin Previšić and Dr Boris Stameniž for their engagement and extensive knowledge. I also thank my colleagues in the Zagreb office of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, for their excellent collaboration.

Sarajevo, July 2022.

Dr Ralf Melzer

Head of the Regional Office Dialogue South East Europe, Friedrich Ebert Foundation