Page 159 - MIGRATION

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MIGRATION, MEMORY, HERITAGE: SOCIO-CULTURAL
APPROACHES TO THE BULGARIAN-TURKISH BORDER
observe dynamic internal migration from the village regions to the towns and industrial centers –
this tendency affected the refugees as well, since they also sought employment in the factories and
left the agrarian regions before they received due land allocations (Bezhantsi 1926: 21).
The second tendency, affecting not only the refugees, is connected with the housing crisis
which ensued as a result from this internal migration. The massive accumulation of cheap labour
in the cities, where there was a lack of housing space as it were, was further aggravated by the
presence of compact refugee masses
6
.
These processes reflected on state policies which is why their efforts were mostly directed
toward accommodating refugees in the villages. The towns were “reserved”, in exceptional cases
at that, for “elite”migrants – craftsmen, tradesmen, and proprietors.
Warn the farmer refugees that their accommodation in towns is positively impossible,
since there are no conditions for land or housing allocation in them. What is more, the towns
are overflowing with refugees and there is a housing crisis in a number of them. Also, warn the
non-farming refugee families that they cannot be accommodated in towns as theywish for the
above-mentioned reasons. […] We would not consider as craftsmen the village blacksmiths
and farriers / carpenters who come from the villages, or the village proprietors of groceries or
pubs who in the place of origin were employed in agriculture as well as in proprietorship. The
cameleers we will consider craftsmen and will present them as such. […] Gardeners, involved
in greengrocery or fruit-growing who refuse to be allocated land, we will consider craftsmen,
while those who want land we will consider farmers. (In a letter from a Regional department
N9330, dated 5 October 1925, to the Police Superintendent of railway station Svilengrad; 64K,
op. 1, a.e. 72).
The parallel processes of emigration of Turks and Greeks from Bulgaria in accordance with
the international agreements, but also following private or even illegal channels, led to vacating
entire villages in which the Ministry of Domestic Affairs and People’s Health (MDAPH) and the
Main Directorate housed refugees. Such a concentrated vacating of residential areas happened
mostly in the village regions (a good example along such lines is the village of Brodilovo), while in
the cities it was a more gradual and less visible process, since in a number of them there were no
ethnically delineated (except for gypsy) neighbourhoods.
All in all, in the 1920s and the 1930s the Bulgarian state was faced with the problem, along
with other post-war problems, of accommodating refugees. The state’s inability to handle this
problem in the years immediately after the war in practice alleviated the subsequent burden on
6 At the local level, the problem with residence space (the so-called housing crisis) can be traced through the
minutes from municipal council meetings held in Haskovo and Svilengrad (as well as in a number of other places). In
those we clearly see that there were serious difficulties in securing housing for all newcomers (refugees or internal
migrants), while at the same time town dwellers lived under rather dire conditions – several people shared one room.
Here we also note the complexity of the problem – a public announcement along the lines of an existing “housing
crisis” in Haskovo would lead to a drop in rents, that, in its turn, would create a problem for the local population who
rely on renting out; on the other hand, if the housing crisis were not to be announced publicly, that would lead to
market speculation in rent and property prices which would create a problem for the in-flow of people.