I did not start the war in Yugoslavia just to promote my novel TITO’S HAWAII but the war has heightened curiosity about that part of the world. It has generated some questions-what type of people Yugoslavs are- and I offer some answers.

This is a novel about Vladimir, a young man in Tito’s concentration camp GOLI OTOK (Barren Island) who had started doubting communism when Tito and Stalin quarrelled in 1948 (The Resolution of the Cominform). Yugoslav cadres were shocked at the transformation of Stalin’s image from idol to mortal enemy. Vladimir, a young party worker realized that neither Stalin’s accusations nor Tito’ defence could be trusted. He wanted to know the truth. He was arrested and spent a year under interrogation changing his stories and a year at the Barren Island changing his mind. He learned there everything a citizen needed to know about the truth.

Under Tito’s close supervision over 30.000 ex-members of the Yugoslav Communist Party went through the camp between 1949 and 1956, their stays ranging from 1 to 7 years. About 10 % died on the island, most of them at the hands of their own comrades. During Tito’s life it was kept a top secret.

Why? The answer is in the nature of the camp. The difference between GOLI OTOK and other Gulags was that G. O. worked on the principle of Perpetual Motion. The prisoners gradually became the spies of the Police and denounced their comrades who were still outside. When these in turn were arrested, they were exposed to the same procedure denouncing their contacts, becoming spies and so earning their release. The cycle was repeated 18 times throughout the history of the camp, one of them depicted through Vladimir’s adventures.

When in one of the last chapters Vladimir confesses that he is a demoralized weakling, a liar, a slanderer and a traitor, his investigator states solemnly that he is ready to rejoin Yugoslav society and congratulates him on his honorable discharge.

Who is the author and what is he up to? I am a 70 year old retired medical doctor and it happened to me. After I had betrayed all my friends the investigator became bored with listening to my denunciations and he let me go in the spring of 1951. While making his valedictory speech, he kept his distance, because I had developed TB, spitting blood. The good side of this experience was that it motivated me to become a chest physician.

So what? Who might be interested in reading Tito’s Hawaii, interested enough to part with fifteen bucks? First and the most important, I believe it is a novel which can entertain everybody. There is no identification problem of the reader with the hero- both are cowards as all people are. And then, there are special readers: Yugoslavs speaking English; disenchanted leftists who want to know more about the disease that had hit them so badly; intellectuals, historians and the wider public interested in the Yugoslav phenomenon: what made us so successful in creating concentration camps.

This 250 page novel is written in the manner of a political thriller. The Yugoslav publisher Slobodan Masic has published the book in Serbo-Croat. I am waiting for a publisher in English. Do you want to see it in English? I can send you the electronic file.

Rade Panich, Box 2084,Harare

Zimbabwe, Africa

Tel. 792 527 or 302 344 Fax 706 409.

E-mail: radpanic@samara.co.zw


Please email any comments/suggestions to: radpanic@samara.co.zw
Copyright (c) 1997 R.Panic. All rights reserved.
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