Between Two Motherlands

Between Two Motherlands: Nationality and Emigration among the Greeks of Bulgaria, 1900–1949

Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: 1
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 304
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    Between Two Motherlands
    Book Description:

    In 1900, some 100,000 people living in Bulgaria-2 percent of the country's population-could be described as Greek, whether by nationality, language, or religion. The complex identities of the population-proud heirs of ancient Hellenic colonists, loyal citizens of their Bulgarian homeland, members of a wider Greek diasporic community, devout followers of the Orthodox Patriarchate in Istanbul, and reluctant supporters of the Greek government in Athens-became entangled in the growing national tensions between Bulgaria and Greece during the first half of the twentieth century.

    In Between Two Motherlands, Theodora Dragostinova explores the shifting allegiances of this Greek minority in Bulgaria. Diverse social groups contested the meaning of the nation, shaping and reshaping what it meant to be Greek and Bulgarian during the slow and painful transition from empire to nation-states in the Balkans. In these decades, the region was racked by a series of upheavals (the Balkan Wars, World War I, interwar population exchanges, World War II, and Communist revolutions). The Bulgarian Greeks were caught between the competing agendas of two states increasingly bent on establishing national homogeneity.

    Based on extensive research in the archives of Bulgaria and Greece, as well as fieldwork in the two countries, Dragostinova shows that the Greek population did not blindly follow Greek nationalist leaders but was torn between identification with the land of their birth and loyalty to the Greek cause. Many emigrated to Greece in response to nationalist pressures; others sought to maintain their Greek identity and traditions within Bulgaria; some even switched sides when it suited their personal interests. National loyalties remained fluid despite state efforts to fix ethnic and political borders by such means as population movements, minority treaties, and stringent citizenship rules. The lessons of a case such as this continue to reverberate wherever and whenever states try to adjust national borders in regions long inhabited by mixed populations.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-6068-5
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Maps and Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. Note on Terminology and Chronology
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  7. MAPS
    (pp. xvii-xx)
  8. Introduction
    (pp. 1-16)

    Writing in 1932, the international law expert Stephen Ladas recounted the story of Todor Nikolov from Haskovo in Bulgaria as an example of the difficulties in determining who was a member of a national minority in Bulgaria and Greece. The Bulgarian citizen declared, in the early 1920s, that he wanted to emigrate and settle in Greece because he had a “Greek consciousness.” Bulgarian officials, however, disputed his claim and refused to certify his declaration, as “he was attached to the Bulgarian nationality by both blood and language.” Greek officials defended their aspiring citizen, maintaining that “he had celebrated his marriage...

  9. 1 The Mixing and Unmixing of Bulgarians and Greeks
    (pp. 17-34)

    In his 1762 book, The Slavic-Bulgarian History of the Bulgarian People, Kings, and Saints, Father Paisiĭ of Hilendar commented on the perils of Greek influence among his contemporary Bulgarians: “There are those who do not care to know about their own Bulgarian people [rod] and turn to foreign ways [chuzhda politika] and a foreign tongue; they . . . learn to read and speak Greek and are ashamed to call themselves Bulgarians.” Reprimanding those who considered it “better to become part of the Greeks [luchshe pristati po grtsi],” the Mount Athos monk refuted the notion of Greek superiority and exalted...

  10. 2 Between the Bulgarian State and the Greek Nation, 1900–1911
    (pp. 35-76)

    In January 1907 a Greek originally from Anhialo/Anchialos in Bulgaria, but now residing as a refugee in Athens, wrote to a Bulgarian newspaper that he had started realizing “how different we are from the people here in our faith, language, and upbringing.” Depicting a situation of “false promises” and “financial and moral corruption” in Greece, he noted that the reality of life did not match the official Greek propaganda that had lured him to emigrate. Seemingly annoyed, he belittled the ancient Greek heritage, the cornerstone of Greek national pride, and expressed his frustration that “[in] stony and barren Greece, only...

  11. 3 Nationality and Shifting Borders, 1912–1918
    (pp. 77-116)

    In November 1918 an unusual scene unfolded in the village of Dzhaferliĭ (today Kichevo) north of Varna. Greek officers arrived in an automobile decorated with a Greek flag and convened a meeting with village elders. Headed by a confident colonel named Konstantinos Mazarakis-Ainian, a former Greek fighter in Macedonia and current head of the Greek Military Mission in Bulgaria, the officers inquired about the local church and school, and asked if the villagers had any complaints regarding the Bulgarian government. The Colonel explained that after the war Greece had become a great power, Bulgaria was expected to lose more territories,...

  12. 4 An Exercise in Population Management, 1919–1925
    (pp. 117-156)

    The Black Sea town of Mesemvria was in turmoil in the summer of 1925. Following the arrival of Bulgarian refugees, many Greeks received threatening letters, became victims of extortion, or saw on their homes black crosses or inscriptions that read “you shall be killed if you stay.” Some moved in temporarily with relatives in nearby cities, and others sold their properties and prepared to leave their native town for good. In a matter of months, almost the entire Greek population departed for Greece, using the provisions of the Convention for Voluntary Emigration of Minorities that Bulgaria and Greece had signed...

  13. 5 Everyday Life after Emigration, 1925–1931
    (pp. 157-192)

    In the late 1920s, shortly after the mass emigration of Greeks from Bulgaria, the attorney Dimitris Vogazlis, now a resident of Greece, visited his native Plovdiv/Philippoupolis and, together with his wife, wished to pay tribute to the Mother of God Church (Panagia) in nearby Voden/Vodena. The village had seen some of the worst violence in the summer of 1924, with repeated clashes between local Greeks and Bulgarian refugees that had compelled the Greeks to emigrate en masse. When Vogazlis and his wife arrived for service on a Sunday morning, the formerly Greek church was almost completely empty. Honoring the visitors...

  14. 6 People on the Margins, 1931–1941
    (pp. 193-216)

    In 1934 a scandal erupted in Anhialo/Anchialos, soon to be renamed Pomorie, in connection with a directive issued by the county police chief prohibiting the use of “foreign languages, especially Greek and Turkish, in all state, county, and public offices,” as well as “at the port, the [railway] station, workers’ storage facilities, coffeehouses, pubs, hotels, motels, factories, and on the streets.” Disseminating the decree through messengers and posting it on public buildings, the chief argued that speaking foreign languages “undermine[d] the national feeling of every Bulgarian . . . [and] g[ave] reasons to think that Anhialo and its district were...

  15. 7 Narratives and Memories of the Past
    (pp. 217-248)

    Kosmas Mirtilos Apostolidis was a prolific Greek historian from Bulgaria who wrote extensively about the Bulgarian Greeks and their communities. Despite the national mission of the writer, his life demonstrates the conflict between public manifestations of national loyalty and private uncertainties regarding one’s allegiances. Born in Plovdiv/Philippoupolis in 1870, Apostolidis worked as a teacher of the Greek language and history in his native town, traveled to Egypt, Thrace, and Greece, received his doctorate in history in Athens, specialized in archaeology in Germany, and resettled in Greece in 1915. In 1919, however, after the death of his wife, the historian, who...

  16. Epilogue
    (pp. 249-268)

    The decade of the 1940s once again upset the dynamics of Bulgarian-Greek relations, all to the detriment of the Bulgarian Greeks. Shortly after World War II engulfed the region, the historian and recent deportee from Bulgaria Mirtilos Apostolidis, worn out by loneliness and deprivation, quietly passed away in Athens in April 1942.¹ Three months later Apostolos Doxiadis, the wartime fugitive from Bulgaria, interwar refugee settlement official and public health activist, and active member of the Bulgarian-Greek Associations in the late 1930s, collapsed from exhaustion as he traveled to a meeting dedicated to children’s rights.² The demise of these two figures...

  17. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 269-280)
  18. Index
    (pp. 281-294)