Page 37 - MIGRATION

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MIGRATION, MEMORY, HERITAGE: SOCIO-CULTURAL
APPROACHES TO THE BULGARIAN-TURKISH BORDER
By methodically placing memorial signs, UTSB has constructed an entire system of
locations that function as memory triggers. In terms of numbers, the memorial signs of Captain
Petko are comparable to the signs dedicated to Vasil Levski. They cover almost the entire national
territory, with a higher frequency in the towns and villages where the Thracian refugees settled.
They are markedly concentrated along the eastern and the southern border. Apart from their
significance as memory sites and places to pay respect to, they visualise
the image of the guard
at the border, the protector of Bulgarians and Bulgarianness; what is more, they send the
message that this is where Bulgarian lands reach to and they are guarded and protected.
It
is particularly telling that the checkpoint Novo selo was renamed Kapitan Petko Voivoda in 2004,
an initiative of UTSB. In the discourse of the leaders of the organisation, “the two captains guard
our southern border.”
19
Other familiar instruments to keep up memory are also used. A number of streets, schools,
societies, and culture houses (
chitalishta
) in the places where the descendants of the Thracian
refugees live nowadays are named after Captain Petko.
20
Tours “in the steps of Captain Petko”
have been organised too (Kostova et al. 2008: 26). The UTSB has established a special award
to honour worthy activists of the Thracian movement, i.e. a gold medal in the name of Captain
Petko.
Thememorialisation does not only include heroes important for the nation. As a safeguard
of historical memory, UTSB has its contribution for rescuing a number of freedom fighters from
oblivion. Such an example can be found in the village of Brod, Dimitrovgrad district, where the
local community honours the memory of Pano Angelov, who was born there, took part in the
Ilinden uprising of 1903, and led a revolutionary resistance group (
cheta
) from Malko Tarnovo.
The commemoration of the chieftain (
voivoda
) dates back to 1990 when it became part of the
traditional July fest commemorating the men slaughtered by the bashibazouk in 1877, and thus
became inseparable from the cultural events in the village. There is a street named after him and
so is the local culture house (
chitalishte
). In 2004, a monument of Pano Angelov was unveiled in
the village (Kostova et al. 2008: 11).
Emblematic examples of constructing Thracian sites of memory and including them in
the national narrative are the celebrations for the anniversaries of the Ilinden Uprising, which
take place in the Petrova niva area,
21
the commemoration of the children, who died on the long
journey to Bulgaria (the National YouthThracian Fest
Ilieva Niva
, the Day of Thracian Children near
Ivaylovgrad), the expression of respect at the anniversaries of the Thracian Bulgarians’ ruination
19 The reference is to the two checkpoints: Kapitan Petko Voivoda [Captain Petko, the Chieftain] on the Greek
border and Kapitan Andreevo [Captain Andreev’s place] on the Turkish border.
20 Dimitrovgrad offers such an example. In 1995, a street was named after the hero. In 1996, the Thracian society
chose the name
Kapitan Petko Voivoda
. In 2006, the professional high school in electronics and electrotechnology was
named after the Bulgarian hero (Kostova et al. 2008).
21 This is the place where, at its congress, the Revolutionary committee of the Edirne district made the decision
to to organize the Ilinden Uprising. In 1928, Petrova niva was suggested as the location for a temple and a pantheon
of those who died, as well as the place for “an annual fest to pay tribute and make example of patriotic inspiration for
the sake of the younger generation”. The site is perceived as the Thracian Oborishte.