Katić: Mamula is a Place of Suffering and a Lighthouse of Our Antifascist History

By , 17 Sep 2018, 11:58 AM Lifestyle

September 17, 2018 - The current local government in Herceg Novi strongly opposed this kind of valorisation, by which the former concentration camp Mamula on the island of Lastavica, one of only seven islands along the Montenegrin coast, will be transformed into a touristic capacity, said the Mayor of the Herceg Novi Municipality, Stevan Katić at the commemoration held on Saturday to mark 75 years since the detachment of the fascist camp. The local government is doing their best to prevent such a destiny of the other inherited cultural values of the town of Herceg Novi.

The Association of Soldiers of the People's Liberation War 1941-1945 from Herceg Novi, together with the organizations from seven other cities of the former Yugoslavia, marked 75 years since the detachment of the Mamula camp, where from 1942 to 1943, 2332 were tortured, and among them a large number of women and children. Mamula is currently under the management of Mamula Montenegro, a daughter company of Orascom Investments, which signed a contract with the Montenegrin Government on the 49-year lease. The former prison is going to be transformed into a boutique hotel of the highest category.

The current local government in Herceg Novi strongly opposed this kind of valorisation of one of only seven islands along the Montenegrin coast, said the Mayor of the Herceg Novi Municipality, Stevan Katić, at the commemoration held on Saturday at the island of Lastavica. Thankful to the company Mamula Montenegro for thier hospitality, he expressed the hope that the commemorative gatherings on the occasion of the dissolution of the World War II camp will be maintained in continuity and in the coming years, irrespective of works on the reconstruction of the fort for the boutique hotel.

"I expect the commemorations to be organized even during the years of work on the fortress reconstruction, as well as during the long-term lease. September 14 is a significant date for the history of our city, for the history of our people, for all survivors and descendants of people who have been detained here. These memories are still painful and close. The current government in Herceg Novi has been against giving a long-term lease or sale of such resources. It is inconceivable for us, as a country with a small number of islands and such resources, that we decide to sell them or lease them. Take the example of Croatia, which has over a thousand islands. Neither of these islands has been sold nor given by a private landowner. These are the resources each country and city in which they are located can be proud of. But what it was, was. We now have the situation we have. It is important that marking the sufferings of our ancestors continues, because every nation, every society that does not respect its history, its past, certainly does not expect a prospective future," says Katić.

The location of suffering of Bokelians and victims from Eastern Herzegovina and Southern Dalmatia is undergoing transformation into a boutique hotel, which will have 33 rooms, luxurious facilities for high-spending guests, as well as a memorial room where the sad story of the island of Lastavica will be presented. "As you know, the decision on such a way of valorisation of the island and the fortress was brought by the Parliament of Montenegro, thereby confirming the Government's decision. At this point, it was the best solution to them. I think this fortress and this island should be well prepared and valued as a cultural-historical monument, to the pride of all of us, which would continue to attract a large number of tourists. I remind that, as a local administration, apart from the basic maintenance of the communal order, we did not have an ingerence over this island. We now try to maximize our cultural heritage and all our fortresses in Herceg Novi, emphasizing their historical significance. Likewise, it was necessary to arrange Mamula as a place of memory in the light of the history of Montenegrin anti-fascism," Katić said with regret. "The decision that has been made has been made, and it remains to be seen how the island will look and function in the future. Time will show whether the decision makers were right, or we were right. "

Herceg Novi has a very rich architectural heritage, from prehistoric times to the present. The current local government recognizes the inherited potential and is trying to enforce it for development purposes. "Not only when we talk about Austro-Hungarian inheritance, but also heritage from other periods, such as Venetian fortresses or legacies from the Turkish period, we have been able to make some shots for a short period of time while we manage the city. We have completed a major project when it comes to the digitalization of the Kanli kula tower. We are working on the Forte Mare Fortress aplication for the UNESCO list, where we have fulfilled all the tasks that are on us, as a local administration, and according to the recommendations of ICOMOS and the competent state institutions. At the moment we are working on the project of the ambient lighting of all important cultural and historical monuments, in order to properly highlight their architectural significance, which will certainly influence the increase of the number of tourists visiting Herceg Novi. This year we recorded 40 percent more tourists who visited our cultural and historical monuments compared to last year.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, Herceg Novi was a city of artists and cultures, and its mild climate and exquisite cultural landscape attracted many great Balkan artists. Katić has also apostrophized the efforts of local government to revive the memories of the greatest among them and their stay in the city under Orjen: "For the past six months we have been serving and putting into operation two significant and unjustly neglected facilities in our town. One of these facilities is the Njegoš's School in Herceg Novi, where we created an impressive museum that represents exhibits from the time, on the basis of which guests visiting our city will find that the Montenegrin ruler taught the school from the priest of Josip Tropovic here. What is very important to us is that we have renovated the house of the only Yugoslav Nobel laureate, Ivo Andric. We are fully committed to the extent of activities in the interest of local society, and in the forthcoming period we will continue to work on the reconstruction and affirmation of the rich cultural heritage inherent in our city," concluded Stevan Katić, President of the Municipality of Herceg Novi.

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