Daksa: Foreign Media Interested By Sale Of Dubrovnik’s Island of Ghosts

Lauren Simmonds

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Dubrovnik’s otherwise little known ”Island of Ghosts” has the international press talking…

A while ago, we introducted you to Daksa, an unassuming, tiny little islet that sits just off the mainland close to Babin Kuk in Dubrovnik. One of many islands, you might say, you might also be right – but it has a dark past.

While many, if not all of Croatia’s huge number of islands are adored purely for their skin-deep beauty and ability to dock boats near them, they often hide a great many secrets and not all of them are particularly pleasant ones. We’ve told you the story about Lokrum, one of Croatia’s most famous uninhabited islands that sits a mere 600m from Dubrovnik’s shoreline, and the extremely disturbing curse the island holds.

Whether or not you believe in such things, Lokrum’s unnerving story should be enough to open the eyes of even the most hardcore of sceptics. I challenge anyone to find a viable excuse as to why so many people lost their lives so suddenly and unexpectedly when attempting to purchase the beautiful emerald island which carries the eternal curse laid upon it by the scorned Benedictine monks all those generations ago.

Anyway, Lokrum is enough of an example to highlight the point I’m trying to make, back to Daksa, an islet even more unassuming than Lokrum, if you’re judging on looks alone, but lets take a deeper look.

The idyllic little islet of Daksa is the site of a brutal and unlawful massacre carried out by the Yugoslav Partisans in late 1944. As the then Independent State of Croatia began to crumble and the cracks in the Axis reign over various parts of Europe started to become more evident, the Partisans moved into Dubrovnik in October 1944, as the war still raged on.

As the war crimes facilitated by Germany gradually began to die down as the then National Socialist nation steadily began to lose its grip over the other Axis powers, crimes at the hands of the Allies began. An uncomfortable truth that not many like to face, particularly in Croatia where the two ”sides” are still very much at the top of heated debate, but facts are facts, and they remain as such regardless of our personal opinions on them.

As the Partisans entered the Pearl of the Adriatic, 300 citizens of Dubrovnik were immediately arrested, many of them were prominent figures in the city at the time, including various Catholic priests, and Niko Koprivica, the then mayor.

These people were accused and subsequently arrested for being ”Nazi sympathisers” or ”collaborators of the Ustaša regime” – generally without reason. A large number of these people were then summarily executed without trial or any possibility of defence on Daksa. Following the macarbe killings, disturbing leaflets were published and distributed in and around Dubrovnik by the Partisans containing the names of some of the lawlessly murdered people, accompanied by the words ”in the name of the people of Yugoslavia” in a wide-scale arttempt to threaten the local population.

Since this tragic event, for which (and it is worth mentioning) nobody ever faced justice, Daksa has carried with it an unusual atmosphere, and is almost like a sentence without a period. Unanswered, unaccounted for and the author of an incomplete story, Daksa now plays the role of the innocent, beautiful green islet to those swimming near Valamar Dubrovnik President.

Until 1990, it was forbidden to visit Daksa, and the victims of the bloodthirsty Yugoslav massacre were exhumed and given a proper burial in 2010. Eighteen bodies were identified, the identities of the others who had to die and then lie without dignity on the islet for so many years remain unknown.

Jump to the modern day (ish), and the private owners have been allegedly attempting to sell Daksa for four years now, with little success. As Dubrovacki Dnevnik writes on the 3rd of November, 2017, the last text published about this was from the German publication Travelbook, which praises the stunning beauty of the tiny islet but also states how Daksa has been on sale for a cool two million euros. The controversial former mayor of Dubrovnik, Andro Vlahušić, also had the idea of purchasing Daksa and giving it to the care of the Lokrum Reserve (Javna ustanova Rezervat Lokrum) with the aim to ”look after Daksa for generations to come”.

The Tourist Board of Dubrovnik has confirmed Travelbook’s text about the attempted sale of the islet and added that its dark past could be an obstacle when it comes to selling it.

Other than the odd tourist and some fishermen here and there, Daksa is relatively a place of solitude and even seagulls seem to pass straight over it, not wanting to land despite its handy location as a safe haven and a look out point. To this very day, people still claim that the only activity on Daksa is paranormal, and the only beings who remain there are the lost souls of the dead.


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