Page 51 - MIGRATION

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MIGRATION, MEMORY, HERITAGE: SOCIO-CULTURAL
APPROACHES TO THE BULGARIAN-TURKISH BORDER
Karaağaç
, a suburb of Edirne, is well known for two things. The old railway station in town
(now the headquarters [
Rectorate
] of the Thracian University) was the object of the first in history
air raid, undertaken by Bulgarian pilots on 29
th
October 1912. The second event dates back to the
end of 1916 when here (in the then territory of Bulgaria) the first fest of Thracians from eastern
Thrace took place. The site has recently been included in the UTSB list of Bulgarian sites.
The Museum of the BalkanWar
is related to a heroic moment in Bulgarian history and is
presented as part of the culture programme when Bulgarians visit the town.
We went on to the hill where the Edirne siege was. The Turks built amonument of Şükrü
Pasa. To them he is a saviour. On this hill our courageous soldiers attacked the Turkish army
and forced the pasha to give in... I am shocked by their perspective on facts. Below the photos
and the exhibits you can see captions that are rather emotional. But still, this is their point of
view. If you have not hired a guide but you know Turkish, you can listen to a recording. There
is a wonderful view of the town from here, a mixture of old and new buildings, mosques, small
shops...
(Sirachkova 2011)
Thenext site is theevidencethatwearenotonlygeographicallyclosebutalsohistorically
related. We are going towards the place connected with the heroism of the Bulgarian soldiers,
the Edirne battle and the conquering of town in the time of the BalkanWar in March 1913. The
view from up here is incredible but the fog did not allow us to see the true beauty of Edirne
from above... The bunker space has been turned into a museum exposition. Some elements of
the arrangement were actually reminiscent of the exposition of historical events at the Pleven
Panorama. The recording of a guide in Turkish accompanies the sightseeing of this memorial
(Raikova 2011).
These are the sites by means of which Edirne is present in the symbolic Bulgarian national
cartography. Of course, this cartography does not coincide with the mental map of today’s
residents of the town.
In constructing and legitimising the sites as Bulgarian traces, there are various social actors
at the Bulgarian locations. The Bulgarian state (with its central, district and municipal structures,
and with its representatives in Edirne) is an active participant in the symbolic reconstruction
of the place. Its support is obvious in the restoration of the two churches but also in financing
Father Alexander’s activities and the events that represent Bulgarian culture and Bulgaria. Such
initiatives as a quest for and a description of the traces of the Bulgarian memorial presence in
town are encouraged by the state. In 2010, the Bulgarian Culture and Information Centre was
opened at the Thracian University, which would be establishing itself as an information centre
and as an aid to intercultural exchange.
The Thracian societies are the other active actors in restoring Bulgarian sites: they help
with ideas and lobbying, organising fund-raising campaigns, etc. this strategy for a symbolic