Page 39 - MIGRATION

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MIGRATION, MEMORY, HERITAGE: SOCIO-CULTURAL
APPROACHES TO THE BULGARIAN-TURKISH BORDER
Initiated by UTSB, the commemorative event at Ilieva niva has gradually turned into a
significant occasion in the calendar of cultural events in Ivaylovgrad; themunicipality has become
its organiser and has turned it into a holiday. Commemorative tributes are part of the cultural
events that take place for a week before and after the International Children’s Day (1
st
June); they
include concerts, theatrical performances, book launches, childrens’ drawing competitions, etc.
The public celebrations attract Greek tourists from across the border and popularise the town
and the cultural sites in the region.
Thus, the national youth Thracian fest has two dimensions with different messages and
addresses. On the one hand, through commemoration, the site is emblematised as the space
honouring the victims and the children martyrs, lending Ivaylovgrad a high symbolic value in
the process of identifying it with traumatic moments of national history. On the other hand, it
is a public celebration that attracts various types of audience, apart from the descendants of
Thracian Bulgarians, among them children from all over the country.
Another case inpoint is the villageofMadzharovo. Inaccordancewith thepolicyof the state
in the socialist period to turn heroes into patrons of villages or towns,
22
the village of Yatadzhik
has been renamed after Dimitar Madzharov,
23
following the suggestion of local Thracian activists
in 1951. D. Madzharov is the patron of a local school, a street is in his name, whereas in the centre
of town there is an alley of the Thracian chieftains (
voivodi
) with the monuments of Captain
Petko, D. Madzharov, and R. Slavov.
In the discourse of the authorities of the Thracian movement, the village of Madzharovo
is an emblem of the ruin of the Thracian Bulgarians. It perceives itself as “the capital of the
ruin and a bearer of the spirit of the Thracian apostle D. Madzharov,” and its residents describe
themselves as “followers of the chieftain’s bequeathment” (Popchev 2010: 203). The place
possesses rich resources for turning into a memory support and offers opportunities for its
symbolic utilization. When crossing the Arda river in 1913, close to Yatadzhik, more than 2,000
refugees and resistance-group members (
chetnitsi
) lost their lives. The village accommodated
refugees in place of the previous Turkish population. Initiated by the local Thracian societies, in
1928, a tribute was organised here for the first time and the search for the remains of those who
died was set off. On Madzharov’s suggestion, the tribute to the victims of the Yatadzhik tragedy
was made national in 1948. A pantheon-ossuary was built in 1948 and the recovered bones of
the dead were deposited there.
24
In 1993, the place was turned into a memorial complex called
Madzharovo, which includes a pantheon, a drinking fountain and a chapel by the name of
St
22 Cf. Vukov 2007.
23 D. Madzharov was born in 1882 in the village of Merhamliy, Sofia district, and he died in 1949 in Kirdzhali. In
the memory of Thracian Bulgarians, he remained the protector of the Bulgarians sent away from their native land and
the saviour of more than 20,000 people. His revolutionary resistance group (
cheta
) and Rusi Slavov’s revolutionary
resistance group accompanied the six-or-seven-km long column of thousands of refugees on the long trip from
Dedeağaç to the Bulgarian border. They got involved in a number of armed conflicts on the way, such as the battle at
Fere (24
th
September 1913) and the one at the Arda river (4
th
October 1913).
24 The monument-ossuary, designed by architect D. Diakov, was built by means of charity funds and charity
work. The names of D. Madzharov and R. Slavov were etched in the monument. The unveiling was personally attended
by Dimitar Madzharov.