mamula-island-resort-concentration-camp
Mamula fortress Fotoplanner—Getty Images/iStockphoto

Former Concentration Camp in Balkans to Become Tourist Resort

Jan 21, 2016

A 19th-century island fortress in Montenegro used as a concentration camp during World War II is to be transformed into a luxury resort.

The Montenegrin government approved plans to turn Mamula Island, just 200 meters across, into a tourist destination featuring swimming pools, a marina, a restaurant, a wine bar and a spa. The government said the resort would honor the camp's victims with a memorial or museum, Balkan Insight reported.

Italian dictator Benito Mussolini's troops used the island as a wartime jail, imprisoning a reported 2,300 people. Many were civilians, and 130 died. Families of the prisoners were not pleased with the prospect of turning a place of grave historical significance into a site of luxury and indulgence. "No concentration camp in the world has been transformed into a hotel," Olivera Doklestic, a relative who is campaigning against the construction, told the AFP.

But Montenegro officials said they had little choice but to accept funding from private partners. "We were facing two options: to leave the site to fall into ruin or find investors who would be willing to restore it and make it accessible to visitors," the head of the country's national directorate for tourism development said to the AFP.

TIME may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice.