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Controversy Over Plans to Build Resort at Former Concentration Camp

Despite local protestation, the Montenegrin government has given the go-ahead for a luxury resort to be developed on Mamula, the site of a former concentration camp.

In Montenegro, plans to build a luxury resort on the site of a former concentration camp on the island of Mamula have sparked outcry.

While the island, located in the Bay of Kotor just off the coast of the Balkan country, is currently dominated by the ruins of a 19th-century fortress, it was used as a concentration camp by occupying Italian troops during the Second World War. It is believed that approximately 2,300 people were imprisoned here during this period, 130 of whom were killed or starved to death.

At present, the Montenegrin government has given the go-ahead for the uninhabited island to be turned into a resort featuring multiple swimming pools, restaurants, a spa and yacht marina as well as a dance floor.

On the back of this, officials have granted a 49-year lease to Swiss-Egyptian company Orascom to develop the island. Orascom has said that it is prepared to invest $16.3 million in development.

These plans, however, have deeply upset the families of those who were interred at the site during the Second World War.

Olivera Doklestic, whose uncle, grandfather and father were imprisoned at Mamul, told AFP, “To build a luxury hotel dedicated to entertainment at this place where so many people perished and suffered is a blatant example of lack of seriousness towards history.”

“No concentration camp in the world has been transformed into a hotel,” she added.

But according to local news outlet Balkan Insight, the Montenegrin government has defended its decision to develop the island, claiming that the resort will prove to be a boon to the local economy. It has also said that the island’s history would be respected, as its development plans feature a museum or memorial room.

Development of Mamula has been a long-running point of contention between locals and the government.  Controversy sparked back in 2013 when the Montenegrin government advertised the island as an investment opportunity suited to “the needs and demands of a wealthy clientele.”

[Photo: MamulaIsland.com]

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EU-US January 24, 2016

I think this is typical media sensationalism - you can always find the few odd people who are vocal AGAINST anything and hold a magnifying glass to them to stir up controversy (which is what sells the news). Even those with painful memories about the place could choose to look at the glass as half full: the site of a shameful past memory is being rebuilt into something peaceful and constructive. There are people who hold on to pain from the past until their last breath, and I understand that, but I believe that a person should not allow him/herself be defined by the pain they experienced. I had a relative who was a concentration camp survivor, and she lived a long and full life and was extremely grateful and happy that she survived. She treated surviving a concentration camp as a miracle, she used her second chance to really live, and didn't turn into a sour person. Some people believe that every scar, bullet hole and bomb crater should be exposed and left untouched, but as painful as it may be for them, it is better for everyone (including them) if scars are healed, cities are rebuilt, and the world moves on, learning from history and not reliving the worst of it every day.