Page 161 - MIGRATION

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MIGRATION, MEMORY, HERITAGE: SOCIO-CULTURAL
APPROACHES TO THE BULGARIAN-TURKISH BORDER
“Trakiyski” and “Makedonski” residential districts in the southern part of Haskovo
7
There is plenty of evidence indicating that municipal councils were trying to give refugees
abandoned plots
or land which nobody would like to use. The Main Directorate was firmly
against this and insisted refugees be given municipal plots (for which, according to law, the state
remunerates the owner). The Municipal council in Haskovo was swift to adopt a plan for the plots
which were to be distributed among the refugees and included those plots within town-limits
regulations.
In Svilengrad the situation was different. In July 1913, the town was burnt to the ground
by the Turkish army but it was also liberated in that same year and included within the borders of
Bulgaria (Atanassov, Lyondev 1980: 13). In practice, its rebuilding coincided with the issuing of its
first town regulation plan which, in its turn, led to a growing number of owners being in need of
compensation following the expropriation of their properties. Here the refugee waves were also
much larger as compared to the local population because Svilengrad – due to its border location
– functioned as a migration depot. The municipal authorities and citizens resented the fact that
good plots would be given to intruders rather than used as compensation for the locals who were
also destitute. The minutes from a series of meetings during the 1920s and the 1930s reveal that
the Municipal council views fluctuated between the need to deal with refugee waves and the
desire to make the solving of the problems of the local population a priority.
Mr. Mayor stated at the meeting that the commission for refugee accommodation had
decided to distribute the vacant or abandoned undeveloped plots in the neighbourhood of
“Bayandar” along the banks of the Maritsa River among the refugees, especially those who
had come from the nearby villages of Chermen and Karach. Moreover, the same commission,
he added, had decided to provide temporary housing for a period of 3 years to 200 families
of farmers and to about the same number of craftsmen’s families, should such present
themselves. Bearing in mind that most of the vacant lots in question had been given to local
citizens as compensation for the expropriated from them properties in accordance with the
7 In “Ovacharski” residential district, to the north of “Trakiyski” and “Makedonski” districts, we also find data of
refugee settlement. The plots there were allocated to dispossessed almost immediately after WorldWar I.