By Josh Saunders
Eerie footage shows the remnants of Croatia’s abandoned ‘Alcatraz’ prison where inmates were forced to beat one another, described as a ‘Living Hell’.
The horrors of Goli Otok still seem to exude from the hollowed-out core that remains just over two miles off the Croatian coast.
The have cells crumbled and ceilings collapsed, a mere memory of the brutality inflicted at the prison and political re-education facility – dubbed the ‘Croatian Alcatraz’.
The prison that opened in 1949 for a period of time was home to those who supported Joseph Stalin after Yugoslavia had broken away from the country and their ideals.
Over its forty years existence, Amnesty International estimate up to 50,000 prisoners were held for political reeducation and other reports suggest up to 600 died.
Prisoner accounts described the place as a ‘living hell’, recalling how guards forced them to beat and torture one another, in a bid to obliterate any allegiance to Stalinism or one another.
Bob Thissen, 36, from Heerlen, the Netherlands, believes the haunting history can still be felt while walking around the site even to this day, despite being abandoned for 28 years.
Bob said: “Prisoners were tortured there, former inmates called it a living hell, even people who were not-guilty were deported to this prison.
“The cells are small, dark and uncomfortable, the conditions were unbearable.
“It makes you think how those political prisoners must have felt there.
“It’s hard to say how many cells there because some buildings are completely stripped, but I would estimate up to 50,000 prisoners were held in Goli Otok between 1949 and 1989.
“You can only imagine what happened here when it was active.
“The history makes the atmosphere chilling, when you just visit it without information you’re just walking between some ruins.
“Although you are on an island you miss vegetation a bit, ‘Goli Otok’ means barren island, it’s a rough island where there’s barely any vegetation.
“It has a unique setting, a prison on an uninhabited island in the Adriatic sea, the prison part was the most interesting part of the island.”
Bob advises people visit the site, which can be reached and explored without breaking the law.
Bob said: “It was a cool experience to spend the night at an uninhabited island, the isolation prison building was impressive.
“I have been to Alcatraz as well, it’s 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.
“It would have been cool to have seen it just after closure, it’s a mix between a Gulag work camp and a prison.”
To see more of Bob’s urban exploration visit: www.bobthissen.com