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Book Review: Goli Otok
By Katarina Tepesh | Published  07/2/2007 | History , Culture And Arts | Unrated
Firsthand account of brutality in communist Yugoslavia

By Katarina Tepesh

"Goli Otok - Hell in the Adriatic," written by Josip Zoretić, is a book of historical importance. This rare, first-person account of physical and mental torture in the prison on Goli Otok should be read as widely as possible, because it tells the truth about inhumane conduct in peacetime.  Josip Zoretić is painfully honest and naming names to bring offenders to justice.

After breaking with Stalin in 1948, the Yugoslav dictator, Josip Broz Tito, used Goli Otok as a labor camp for political prisoners. Goli Otok is near Rab and the island of Grgur, which was a prison for women.

Hopeless due to unemployment and low quality of life, and haunted by his father's tragic murder by the Partisans in 1942 because he refused to join them, Mr. Zoretić fled communist Yugoslavia and went to Austria in 1962. He became ill and was deported back to Yugoslavia where he was declared a public enemy. What followed was years of torture in the high-security prison. A place of pain, barbarity and execution, Goli Otok was a top secret jail where Tito's Yugoslav communist regime detained over 30,000 political prisoners knowing that they were sure to crumble under the conditions. Forced to do heavy labor in a stone quarry, regardless of the weather conditions, extremely hot in the summer and subjected to chilling bura wind in the winter, many did not survive. But Mr. Zoretić survived and served seven brutal years until 1969.

Escaping to Germany and later moving to Canada, Mr. Zoretić first published "Goli Otok - Hell in the Adriatic" in 1972 in the Croatian language. He did it as a coping mechanism for his never-ending nightmares, to exercise freedom of conscience and expression, and especially to alert others of the gross human rights violations in communist Yugoslavia.  

The prison, however, continued to operate until 1988. The rocky and inhospitable island was abandoned in 1989 following the dismantlement of the labor camp as the Yugoslav federation crumbled in the late 1980s.

Published in 2007 by Publishing; See  

To order a book send a $15.00 check (includes U.S. shipping) payable to Marko Zoretic, P.O. Box 18091, Irvine, CA 92623-8091.  Canadian orders: $18CDN.      

Formatted for CROWN by   Marko Puljić
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