Page 163 - MIGRATION

Basic HTML Version

161
MIGRATION, MEMORY, HERITAGE: SOCIO-CULTURAL
APPROACHES TO THE BULGARIAN-TURKISH BORDER
The core distinction which can be made between different local municipal policies for
refugee accommodation is based on whether the refugees were given space for concentrated
settlement or whether land was allocated to them in more than one town district, thus leading
to their spread. Haskovo followed more or less the former model and we can see clearly even
today the territory allocated for the refugees. The case of Svilengrad is the opposite – even if the
municipality intended to provide land for the newcomers only in the district of Bayandar (already
existing within city limits), it actually settled them everywhere – today there are successors of
refugees in Gerban and in many other places.
Private (national and local) policies
In parallel to the state and municipal policies there also emerged and were developed
private or non-government policies for refugee aid and accommodation.
First and foremost I should note the individual efforts of the refugees themselves in finding
and purchasing houses and farm buildings. The transcripts of the Municipal council meetings in
Haskovo contain data about refugees winning bids for building or opening workshops but also
for being accommodated in abandoned buildings. Family and inter-settlement connections play
an important role in such cases, since a number of refugees followed their relatives or people from
their towns/villages of origin who had settled there before them.
At the beginning of the 1920s, the Thracian societies were established and began their
dynamic activities across the entire country. They also contributed to the accommodation of
refugees from Eastern andWestern Thrace.
At the same time a number of international organizations were active in Bulgaria – the
Red Cross, the Save the Children Foundation, as well as Quaker societies from the USA and Great
A contemporary map of Svilengrad which clearly shows the three basic residential districts.
The “Grad Svilengrad” district is several kilometers away from the town – which is where the refugee
depot was situated and where refugees used to live for weeks, sometimes even months and years, in
extremely dire conditions – without housing and with almost no food.