Collective monograph

THESSALONIKI AND THE BULGARIANS: HISTORY, MEMORY, PRESENT

The collective monograph entitled Thessaloniki and the Bulgarians: History, Memory, Present features the Bulgarians in Thessaloniki and their links to the large Aegean port. It combines texts by twenty-two Bulgarian, Greek and Turkish scholars, who rely on hither to unused sources to reveal unknown facts and offer new issues and different perspectives to the topic. Arranged chronologically in four thematic sections, the studies highlight the Bulgarians among the motley variety in the Mediterranean city and render its diversity complete, vivid, authentic.

The publication starts with Nadia Danova’s study on the communication between the residents of Thessaloniki and the St. George the Victorious Monastery of Zographou from the origin of the cloister to the latter decades of the 19th century. Relying on Ottoman registers – of 1834, 1840 and 1845, Margarita Dobreva recounts data on the professions, real estate and settlement of the Bulgarians in Thessaloniki. The topic of the Bulgarian community in the city is further pursued in Yordan Zhelev’s paper based on the only roll census of the Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox population in the European boundaries of the Ottoman Empire performed in 1907 by the Bulgarian Exarchate in Constantinople. The texts offered by Eleonora Naxidou, Vladimir Paunovski and Maria Litina are dedicated to the complex relations among the Orthodox Christians in Ottoman Thessaloniki and to the consolidation of the national communities in the city. The topics of the education of the Bulgarians and their involvement in the public life of the city are the subject of research of Yura Konstantinova, Elmira Vasileva and Ivaylo Nachev.

People’s destinies however frequently depended on the interests and confrontations of the large states. Raya Zaimova, Rossitsa Gradeva and Sinan Kuneralp, Roumiana Preshlenova and Tina Georgieva present the divergent policies that led to military conflicts and reshaped state borders in the beginning of the 20th century. The decade of wars left a deep traumatic imprint on millions of families and pointedly raised the subject of memory. Its theoretical aspect that affected the lives of the Bulgarians in Thessaloniki is the focus of Malamir Spasov’s paper, while its particular dimension exemplified by the Bulgarian Hadjimishev Family is presented by Aleka Strezova. Remembrance and oblivion are irrevocably and dialogically bonded as evidenced by the texts of Georgi Dikin and Vlasis Vlasidis featuring respectively the post-war transformation in the national composition of the population in Thessaloniki and the change in the fate of the Bulgarian-and- German cemetery in the city.

The studies by Gergana Doncheva, Zdravka Mihaylova, Evgenia Troeva and Tanya Matanova add entirety and completeness to the publication. They focus our attention on the participation of Bulgarian films and literary works in prestigious international festivals in Thessaloniki, on the pilgrim journeys, on the life of the Bulgarians and the different options for their fulfilment in the modern city.

The authors of this monograph represent various institutions, schools of thought and approaches. They are united in their understanding that the diversity of stories and opinions is important for grasping the past and for contributing to the sustainability of the future. Their studies targeting a wide audience in Bulgaria and abroad have undergone independent double scientific evaluation. However, the highest criterion and the biggest challenge for any author is the assessment of the readership. Our responsibility is even greater because some of the readers believed and supported us in advance.

We express our gratitude to the successors of the Alexiev, Andonov, Biolchev, Oshavkov, Todorov, Tapkov, Hadjimishev and Shavkulov families for sharing with us their family stories, emotions and views. Our appreciation goes to all the readers of the Thessaloniki and the Bulgarians: History, Memory, Present website (www.solunbg.org), who sent in their stories and suggested brilliant ideas, some of which we were able to accomplish, while others we will continue to work on in the future.

We would not have coped with the challenges without the assistance provided by colleagues and like-minded individuals from various government institutions and public organizations that supported us for free at every stage of our activities. Special position among them is occupied by the institutions that entered into partnership agreements with us: Archives State Agency, SS. Cyril and Methodius National Library, Central Library of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, National Museum of Military History. Last but not least, we owe gratitude to the Scientific Research Fund under the Ministry of Education and Science, as without its financial support neither this publication nor the preservation of the personal (family) stories or the widespread promotion of our ideas and research would have been possible.

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