(visual) fragments

Almost the only occupation of the women was to randomly carry stones back and forth on the island.

During this time, stones were used to create an oversized Tito lettering with a star, which can be seen from the air.

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Eva Panir had been arrested because she refused to relinquish her own husband for being a state enemy and a  Russian spy – her husband, Rade Panić, worked at the Serbian Ministry of Internal Affairs and was arrested under false accusation that he had been working for the Soviets. In prison he committed suicide, after which it was demanded from Eva to relinquish him, which she didn't do claiming that he was innocent. She had been separated  from her seven year old daughter Tijana - who at that moment remains without both of her parents - and had been sent to prison first on Banjica and then on Obilićev venac (although different data can be found) and finally to Sveti Grgur, where she was imprisoned from April 1952 till November 1954. Only after that she saw the case record of her deceased husband in which it was stated that he was innocent, whereas the colonel of the Counterintelligence Service, Milenko Nikitović, had been convicted to 18 years of prison for making a false accusation.   

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A hand made notebook engraved in the cell wall bestowed to Eva

by her fellow prisoners during their captivity on Sveti Grgur

Ženi Lebl, a former journalist at “Politika” magazine, had been arrested in 1949.  because she hadn't reported that her colleague  and “friend” - who was actually an undercover police provocateur – told her a joke about the white violet: “Comrade Tito, you white violet, all young people love you” - was a verse from a communist song. And the joke was: “Yugoslavia got a first prize at the international flower exposition for growing a hundred kilogram violet.”  Ženi had been labelled enemy of the people and of the state, and had been directly sent to prison in Požarevac and then to Sveti Grgur without having a trial.

 

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“The girls turned into old women. Their teeth fell out, they fell ill as they received the news that their children, mothers and husbands had relinquished them because they were “enemies of the people”. Freedom  was offered to them, but on the condition that they become informants and keep quiet about what they were experiencing, otherwise their families would suffer.”

 

Ženi Lebl ©Wikipedia

from the book by Ženi Lebl: LJUBIČICA BELA - Vic dug dve i po godine /

The White Violet: My Two and a Half Years in the Yugoslavian Gulag for Women

 

“From prison island to bathing paradise"


In the meantime, Goli Otok is open to everyone again and offers its visitors sights of a somewhat different kind. It is definitely worth taking a closer look at the darker side of Goli as well. Take a tour of the former prison grounds, now abandoned, barren and left to decay, still retaining much of its former horror in the ruins. The watchtower still looks menacing even with bare yawning window cavities, and the sight of the rusty bedsteads piled up in front of the former barracks brings dark forebodings. Then leave the hell of the Adriatic behind and treat yourself to a soothing refreshment in the sea. After this detour into hell, we will compensate you with a trip to paradise. Let us surprise you...

 On the website: kroatien-adrialin.de

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Sveti Grgur ©Simon Bučan

One nautical mile northwest of Goli Otok is the island of Sveti Grgur. This was the site of the women's prison. This prison is said to have been closed for 25 years. Remains of walls and buildings can still be found here. Unfortunately, I have not found any further information about the history of the prison. It seems as it had not existed.

                           Internet user Claudia, website forum: croatia-tips

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Sveti Grgur ©Simon Bučan

Veselin Popović –
a major of UDBA at the federal level, prison warden at Ramski Rit remained in memories of the female convicts as a benevolent and well-meaning person unlike his successor Marija Zelić Popović


 

“In my memories I have hundreds of upsetting female destinies. Before telling the story about the escape from hell at Ramski Rit, I have to mention another one. I can't avoid mentioning it since I encountered her once at Vrnjačka Banja after so many years. 

Her name was Petrana Pejović; she was a girlie, so to say, a shepherdess, illiterate. One day, somewhere in the hills of Montenegro, she started singing a Russian song that was very popular at that time: “Volga, Volga...”. It was a famous song from the time of the Patriotic War sung by many all over the Slavic world.          

So, sitting on the meadow above the village, right next to her sheep, she sang. The neighbours heard her. They reported her to UDBA. Agents came during the night and arrested her. They asked her in prison whether she knows what Informbiro means. She said: “I swear to God I don't know”. Their answer was: “Well, since you don't know, now you're going behind the barbed wire and you can sing your Russian song to Stalin there...” 

From the text in magazine “Glas Javnosti” (Belgrade) written by Ljubomir Tesić
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Montenegrin girl doing farmwork (1950) ©Elektronski Muzej žena Crne Gore

 

ARROWS – drama club of the women's prison camp on Sveti Grgur

A double choir recital:

Whoever's not for comrade Tito
Will find her place in a cell
So that she stops drinking people's blood!

Yupi yeah, yupi yeah!
Yupi yeah, yupi yeah!

Ever since the “Arrows” exists
It doesn't let the mob have its peace

Yupi yeah, yupi yeah!
Yupi yeah, yupi yeah!  

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© Comité central du Front antifasciste des femmes de Yougoslavie