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Stoyan Shivarov (stoyan.shivarov (at) ottomanist.info)  Oriental Collections, Bulgarian National Library

Stoyan Shivarov (stoyan.shivarov (at) ottomanist.info)  Oriental Collections, Bulgarian National Library

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Stoyan Shivarov (stoyan.shivarov (at) ottomanist.info) Oriental Collections, Bulgarian National Library
Stoyan Shivarov (stoyan.shivarov (at) ottomanist.info) Oriental Collections, Bulgarian National Library

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Introduction

1
Migrations of Muslims from present-day Bulgaria towards the lands still in
possession of Ottoman Empire started during the Russo-Turkish war of 1877-1878.
It did not cease after that peace treaty, but nevertheless the newly emerged
Principality of Bulgaria managed to offer some security to all its subjects and the vast
majority of Muslims choose to stay in their homeland. Followed years of relative
peaceful, albeit at times quite tense, coexistence between the two states, which even
the declaration of Bulgarian independence in 1908, did not destroy. Then with the
Balkan wars of 1912-13 and the sharp increase of animosity towards minorities in
both countries, many were again forced to migrate, fearing their own security. As a
result the Christian Bulgarian population in Ottoman state virtually ceased to exist
and in Bulgaria, especially in the newly conquered territories, many Muslim
settlements were partially or completely abandoned and erased from the map.
In both countries the hostility towards the internal enemies was based mostly on
confessional criteria and not that much on ethnicity. Here I will try to compare the
historical fate and the consequent migrations of two communities, completely
isolated and marginalized not only by the majority, but even by their coreligionists.
These are the Pomaks of the Rhodope Mountains and the Bulgarians in the villages
in North Western Anatolia1. The only significant contact these communities had with
each other was during a short cohabitation in the several of the Bulgarian village in
North Western Anatolia. Though drawing information from various sources, this
paper is mainly based on the data collected during two consecutive field research
expeditions in villages of North Western Anatolia, conducted in 2009 and 2010.2
The Bulgarians in Anatolia
Emigration of Muslims from Bulgaria to the Bulgarian villages in North
Western Anutoliu. The cuse oI KocupInur und Necipköy villuges
Stoyan Shivarov (stoyan.shivarov (at) ottomanist.info)
Oriental Collections, Bulgarian National Library
Page 1/12
1
http://bit.ly/144XA6L
Bulgarians have always been an important ethnic component in the Ottoman
Empire. Even after the creation of the modern Bulgarian state they continued to be
so in Thrace and Macedonia regions. There were migrations to this new Balkan state
after 1878, but the majority chose not to alter their place of residence and instead
hoped that these regions will soon be united. While Bulgarians in Thrace and
Macedonia had never lost contact with their compatriots the so called Anatolian
Bulgarians were completely cut off from their original community. As their numbers
were not great they were (and still are) also out of the interest of researchers,
publications about their historical faith or ethnographic features are scarce at best
and are based almost entirely on secondary sources that offer only the Bulgarian
perspective. Bulgarian historiography mentions around 20 predominantly Bulgarian
settlements, but till the research expedition in 2009, with few exceptions, their exact
location and / or current names were unknown. Curiously enough easily accessible
early 20
th
  century cartographic data has never been utilized.3  Though there is still
some doubt about a couple of minor and somewhat temporary (çiftlik) settlements
and about villages considered to be Bulgarian, but apparently became Graecized at
some point, we were able to produce an accurate map of the Bulgarian settlements in
North Western Anatolia.
Slavic speaking Christian Bulgarians in Anatolia were not from the autochthonous
inhabitants of the region. There are no primary sources that could answer how and
when exactly they crossed the Straits and founded their settlements. The earliest
veritable document that could give us some data on this topic is a plea to the
governor of the Bulgarian port city of Varna from 1879.4 Three representatives from
the villages of Bayramiç, Paun köy (Şevketiye)5 and Koca bunar (Kocupinur) ure
explaining that while they do not know when exactly their ancestors had settled in
Asia Minor most probably this happened “100-120 years ago” seeking shelter from
both constant harassment and overtaxation of Ottoman authorities and attacks by
Emigration of Muslims from Bulgaria to the Bulgarian villages in North
Western Anutoliu. The cuse oI KocupInur und Necipköy villuges
Stoyan Shivarov (stoyan.shivarov (at) ottomanist.info)
Oriental Collections, Bulgarian National Library
Page 2/12
bandits. They state that are representing more than 1000 families from 12
“completely Bulgarian” villages, with their inhabitants originally from Thrace,
though do not mention any particular villages. Currently they experience difficulties
and constant harassment, mainly from Circassians6,  and are requesting help from
the authorities of the Principality of Bulgaria for them to evacuate. Interesting fact is
that all three representatives were illiterate, although they mention that there are
Greek schools in most of their villages.7 Bulgarian government did not pay that much
attention to this plea and full scale migration did not happen.
The only information for the history of the Bulgarians settlements in North Western
Anatolia prior 1878 is from foreign travellers that were keeping logs during their
journeys. ExcepL Ior KizderbenL (In KocueII provInce) LIe resL oI BuIgurIun
settlements were outside the main roads and did not attract any attention. The first
published information about the presence of Bulgarians in this part of Ottoman
Empire was an account of an Italian Salvatori, who in 1808 en route to Persia,
sLopped Ior u Iew Iours In KizderbenL.8  Other travellers like Tancoigne, Leake,
Keppel, Vronchenko (Вронченко) also gave short, sometimes contradictory,
uccounLs on KizderbenL und ILs InIubILunLs. AILIougI LIIs wus LIe IIrsL Bulgarian
village discovered by the end of the 19th century it was completely Graecized and
LIere ure no records oI mIgruLIons Lo BuIgurIu. SLIII dweIIers oI KizderbenL reLuIned
the Slavic character of their speech, heavily influenced by both Turkish and Greek.
Not that much affected by the Balkan wars they stayed on Anatolian soil till 1921. In
Greece they are known as Trakatroukide.9
As an exception we could point out the villages of Çataltepe, Urumçe (Nusretiye),
Çeltik and Stengel köy (Iskenderköy) in Çanakkale province, where the data are
credible. These had been settled by Bulgarians from Ivaylovgrad (Ortaköy) region
around 1850. Iskenderköy even later around 1875 with people from Kostur (Kesriye).
Emigration of Muslims from Bulgaria to the Bulgarian villages in North
Western Anutoliu. The cuse oI KocupInur und Necipköy villuges
Stoyan Shivarov (stoyan.shivarov (at) ottomanist.info)
Oriental Collections, Bulgarian National Library
Page 3/12
The reason for these migrations was the search for more income and less tax burden.
10
The Pomuks
Slavic speaking Muslims known as Pomaks are object of much more historical and
general scientific interest. Even after the population exchanges and several migration
campaigns (both voluntary and forced) this community is still strong in numbers and
manages to defy assimilation, especially in present day Bulgaria and Greece. While
scientist and media from the Balkan states continue to dig into the history and
ethnography of the Pomaks their efforts are far from complete and because of
various purely conjuncture reasons, sometimes quite far from reality. Scholars tend
to neglect publications or even sources from outside their home countries, thus
failing to notice the connection and often continuity among different Pomak
settlements that are separated by state borders and sometimes vast distances. A
popular notion among the scientific community in Bulgaria is that Pomaks that
emigrated to Anatolian provinces of Turkey during and after the Balkan wars
completely lost their cultural heritage and are assimilated into the Turkish society.
Our two field study trips proved this not true. While Pomaks in Anatolia integrated
into the Turkish society without much trouble there are still many villages that keep
their distinct culture and have vivid interest about their Balkan roots. Unfortunately
few sources are available to them and in many cases they are unaware of their exact
place of origin and instead could only state a region like Selanik or Nevrokop. On the
other hand while migration towards and from eastern Thrace are more or less
documented in various works in Bulgarian, the colourful region of the former vilayet
of Hüdavendigar that probably accepted much more and diverse fugitives is virtually
unknown.
It would not be inaccurate to state that for the Bulgaria the 1912 Balkan war started
In LIe Pomuk vIIIuge oI Timriş, centre of the Pomak resistance, when the artillery
Emigration of Muslims from Bulgaria to the Bulgarian villages in North
Western Anutoliu. The cuse oI KocupInur und Necipköy villuges
Stoyan Shivarov (stoyan.shivarov (at) ottomanist.info)
Oriental Collections, Bulgarian National Library
Page 4/12
began shelling the settlement. For years this and several surrounding Pomak
populated places had achieved effectively autonomous status and their inhabitants
were processing enough firearms to oppose policing attempts.
The exumple oI KocupInur und Necipköy
I have chosen these two villages, not only because they are an example of Christian -
Muslim population exchanges, caused by the Balkan wars. Muslim Pomaks and
Christian Bulgarians in Asia Minor are unique communities that were considered
inferior even by their coreligionists. In both populated places Pomak refugees arrived
while most of the original Bulgarian population was still residing there. Never before
or after these two groups had such prolonged contact. The contact - conflict situation
is even more interesting considering the completely intelligible language of the two
groups.
KocupInur was the most populous and wealthy of the Bulgarian villages and it was
acting as their capital. It continues to be centre for Pomaks from the region to this
day and the annual holiday of the village attracts huge crowds. Even though
Kocupinur, IIke mosL oLIer upIIII vIIIuges In LIe regIon, suIIers Irom depopuIuLIon,
the former prosperity is still visible. Old houses are almost exclusively made of stone
and are more spacious, compared to those in neighbouring settlements. The old
Bulgarian school in the village is the largest building I have seen in any of the
Bulgarian villages in North Western Anatolia.
According to Tacettin Akkuş around the middle of 19th century there were 80 Greek
families and Bulgarians later replaced them.11  This contradicts data recorded from
the descendants of the Bulgarians12 and also Ottoman sources from the same period,
where many male members of the 83 recorded families have Bulgarian names like
'Stoyan'.13 Akkuş gives 1470 as official number for population of the village in 1905.
In 1914 the fugitives that managed to reach Bulgarian soil count to 1028.14
Emigration of Muslims from Bulgaria to the Bulgarian villages in North
Western Anutoliu. The cuse oI KocupInur und Necipköy villuges
Stoyan Shivarov (stoyan.shivarov (at) ottomanist.info)
Oriental Collections, Bulgarian National Library
Page 5/12
Obviously the local Bulgarians considered emigration to their ancestral homeland,
but as in the newly founded Bulgaria, in the North Western Anatolia things reverted
to some level of normality and most of the families decided not to leave their
property and settle into unknown for them country. The inability of the Bulgarian
government to provide assistance also proved decisive. According to several
narratives for quite some time Bulgarians were mostly pleased by the efforts of the
Ottoman governors to prosecute the Circassian bands. The Young Turks revolution
of 1908 was well received by the Anatolian Bulgarians and they started going out of
their isolation and began much more active communication with the administrative
centres. During this time they did not even resist being drafted in the Ottoman army.
Later on we have accounts of Bulgarians from Anatolian villages being drafted and
soon after deserting to the Bulgarian forces in Çatalca.15 Mihail Pavlov Chervenkov
Irom AIucubuyir (kuzu oI BuIyu) reporLed Lo BuIgurIun uuLIorILIes uILer deserLIng LIuL
there were around 40 Anatolian Bulgarians drafted and all of them are eager to
switch sides. There were cases of desertation even before the war, as being located in
Thrace gave easier opportunity to do so.16 One of the Anatolian Bulgarian deserters
escaped from his garrison in Albania and through Serbian controlled areas arrived in
Western Bulgaria. Other escaped from Istanbul on a Russian ship to Odessa.
All this precarious equilibrium was shaken by the start of the two consecutive Balkan
wars that shaped anew not only the Balkan Peninsula but also Anatolia. As the
military actions were on the Balkans Pomaks were affected both by direct force
(mainly by paramilitary formation) and pressure to change their faith. Later was
considered as way to erase the reason for them not being “pure Bulgarians”. Also,
Pomaks from the Rhodope region have long history of animosity and at times open
hostility with their Christian neighbours, most important one dating back to the
“Massacre of Batak” which has never been forgotten nor forgiven. Even to this day
Batak events are an important topic for the Bulgarian society, affecting mainly the
Emigration of Muslims from Bulgaria to the Bulgarian villages in North
Western Anutoliu. The cuse oI KocupInur und Necipköy villuges
Stoyan Shivarov (stoyan.shivarov (at) ottomanist.info)
Oriental Collections, Bulgarian National Library
Page 6/12
general attitude toward Turkish minority17,  and puts strain on the relations in
Rhodopes. Recent (May 2011) canonisation by the Bulgarian Orthodox Church of the
Batak victims added further to the already existing tension, created by the far right
nationalistic sentiments.
Although the regular Bulgarian army never fully participated in skirmishes within
Rhodopes, the paramilitary groups (mainly VMORO) were supplied, trained and
supervised by officers on active duty. The villages were quickly overwhelmed and the
ones most fiercely defying Bulgarian forces were treated harsh and in some cases - as
wILI LIe cenLre oI resIsLunce Timriş - completely demolished.18  They suffered the
most and together with dwellers from neighbouring settlements like Çereºovo,
Mihalkovo, Beden, Çuren, Breze, Petvar etc. were forced flew to the areas, still in
Ottoman possession. A bit later Pomak population from the area of larger Nevrokop
und Drumu uIso sLurLed Lo IIee. PeopIe Irom BuruLIn, KrIbuI, Koçun, JIjevo, ¡irgovo,
Ablanica, Kara Bulak (Borino), Babyak, Çirnovitsa, Pepelaj. They were not the first
fugitives to reach Kocapýnar though as several Albanian families arrived shortly
before them.
But the Bulgarians were still there. So it was the beginning of a tense cohabitation
with Pomaks and Albanians. All the oral accounts from Bulgarian refugees, as well as
our talks with their children and grandchildren tell the story of increasing tension
and hostility towards Bulgarians while official authorities were looking neutral at
best on the harassment done by Pomaks. It was not unusual for regular army units to
stop in the village and search males for firearms. Their pleas to the governor for help
were not taken in consideration as obviously they were already considered not
trustworthy (probably it was known that drafted Bulgarians are defecting easily) and
thus undesirable population.
Still considering mutual distrust between Bulgarians and Pomaks there is no
reported open violence amid the two communities. Apart from petty harassments
Emigration of Muslims from Bulgaria to the Bulgarian villages in North
Western Anutoliu. The cuse oI KocupInur und Necipköy villuges
Stoyan Shivarov (stoyan.shivarov (at) ottomanist.info)
Oriental Collections, Bulgarian National Library
Page 7/12
which should have persuaded Bulgarians to leave and their property to be sized from
the still homeless Pomaks.
There were also constant pleas to the Bulgarian consulate in Istanbul for organizing
full evacuation which was made in April-may 1914, with ships departing from the
port of Bandýrma. Most of these refugees settled in Dedeaðaç and Gümülcine, thus
just after several years they were again forced to migrate, because of Bulgaria's defeat
in the World war. Though people from Kocapýnar did not exchange their villages
with the Pomak refugees from Rhodopes, some settled in abandoned by Turks
settlements like Malki Voden (Subüklün).
CurrenLIy Kocupinur Is uIso LIe vIIIuge wILI mosL InLense communIcuLIon wILI
Bulgaria19. Even during 1970 and 1980s there were cases of Bulgarians born there to
visit the village. Our best informer Hüseyin Esener (Terzi Hüseyin) also visited
Koçan in present day Bulgaria where his ancestors were born. On the annual village
holiday in 2009 for example there were representatives of the Bulgarian Mufti. And
after dissemination of results from our research the Bulgarian consul in Bursa did
vIsIL Kocupinur (¡ebruury zo1o).
Necipköy
Situated only several kilometres away from Kocapnar. According to the Bulgarian
consulate, just before the evacuation in 1914, there were 80 houses with around 400
inhabitants. There were also a church and a Greek school.
WIoIe vIIIuge evucuuLed In Muy 1q1q, uguIn vIu LIe porL oI Bundirmu Lo TIruce und
again just several years later they were driven out by the Greek army. Most of them
settled in Burgas region, where their descendants reside to this day. This is one of the
Bulgarian villages that actually suffered human losses during the migration. Several
dwellers together with the muhtar of the village were robbed and killed on the way to
Bundirmu.20 Again the Circassian bands were responsible.
Emigration of Muslims from Bulgaria to the Bulgarian villages in North
Western Anutoliu. The cuse oI KocupInur und Necipköy villuges
Stoyan Shivarov (stoyan.shivarov (at) ottomanist.info)
Oriental Collections, Bulgarian National Library
Page 8/12
During our field research in 2009 we uncovered data that is not present in other
sources. Treasure hunting is widespread in the whole region, both because there are
many ruins from Byzantine and even earlier times, but also because in almost every
former Bulgarian village there is a legend of a rich inhabitant that hid possessions
somewhere. That is the reason many of the houses to be consciously demolished,
looking for possible coins in the walls. In Nacipköy the legend is about the wealthy
cleric named Manol (Papaz Manol) - his house is still inhabited. We found the most
extreme case of treasure hunting to be here. Apart from the various excavations
around the village an even more striking example was inside the old mosque.
Somebody dig a hole in the middle of the old mosque, which was closed down in
2006. The mosque had been built over the foundation of the Bulgarian church.
Nobody could give us satisfactionary explanation why a new mosque has been
erected as the village population actually shrank during last decades.
Pomaks in Necipköy are mostly refugees from Çereşovo (almost the whole village
seLLIed Iere), buL uIso IumIIIes Irom Timriş and Osikovo that fled in the beginning of
the Balkan war. They managed to reach the Anatolian shore through the port of
Kavala. We do not have exact numbers, but according to the Bulgarian general
census from 1920 there were only three Pomaks21  in Çereşovo, while before it was
predominantly Pomak village22.
In Necipköy Pomaks and Bulgarians spent more than year in cohabitation. In
conLrusL wILI Kocupinur Iere we do noL Iuve muny deLuIIs on LIIs perIod. TIIngs geL
more complicated when we do not have any mentioning about such close existence in
the recorded memories of the returned Anatolian Bulgarians. While completely sure
that such thing happened we could conclude that there were no major accidents for
them to remain in the memory of the refugees.
Conclusion
Emigration of Muslims from Bulgaria to the Bulgarian villages in North
Western Anutoliu. The cuse oI KocupInur und Necipköy villuges
Stoyan Shivarov (stoyan.shivarov (at) ottomanist.info)
Oriental Collections, Bulgarian National Library
Page 9/12
To this moment almost all research on the migrations caused by the Balkan wars has
been based on archival sources or government statistical data. Accounts of the
witnesses and victims of the events were used mostly for propaganda purposes and
are without doubt exaggerated. Surprisingly a whole century after the events there is
still much fieldwork to be done23,  as sometimes there are many contradictions
among the archival sources from different countries or simply they are vastly
inaccurate. Especially such isolated and largely illiterate groups like Anatolian
Bulgarians and Pomaks are in the periphery of both governmental politics and
registration efforts as they are only a fraction of much larger confessional
communities - Christians in Asia Minor and Balkan Muslims.24  While Pomaks are
undergoing a process of increasing interest towards their past Anatolian Bulgarians,
because of their small numbers, are in danger of being completely forgotten and
being mentioned only as Christians or as a part of the former Greek population in
Asia Minor. It is not uncommon even for the second generation refugees not have
even a slightest clue about the exact location of the villages of their parents as they
know its name only in unofficial dialect form or it was renamed by Bulgarian or
Turkish authorities. The only viable solution for such shortcomings is an extensive
research based both on primary archival sources, governmental statistics, narratives
and field research. Omitting just one of these leads to a long chain of inaccurate
interpretations, which, especially regarding the Balkans should be strictly avoided as
they are often used to deepen the religious and ethnic separations.
1
CurrenLIy LIese vIIIuges ure IocuLed In BuIikesIr, Bursu und ÇunukkuIe provInces.
2
 Together with my colleagues Georgi Zelengora and Konstantin Panayotov we were
able to conduct two field research trips to North Western Anatolia in 2009 and 2010.
Our efforts are part of “Neighbouring Bulgaria” scientific project, supported by grant
by “Bulgarian Science Fund”. Additional information could be found at http://
sasedna.blogspot.com
Emigration of Muslims from Bulgaria to the Bulgarian villages in North
Western Anutoliu. The cuse oI KocupInur und Necipköy villuges
Stoyan Shivarov (stoyan.shivarov (at) ottomanist.info)
Oriental Collections, Bulgarian National Library
Page 10/12
3
¡ wouId IIke Lo LIunk Lo Mr. AII Adimci Irom LIe HeceLLepe UnIversILesI IIbrury, wIo
helped me finding Ottoman and Turkish maps from the first half of 20
th
 century.
4
Transcript published in Миграционни движения на българите 1878-1941, Т. 1,
София 1993, с. 69-70.
5
Names of the villages are given in Latin script, but according to the Bulgarian
pronunciation with current name in brackets. All subsequent references are
according the current spelling in Turkish.
6
Circassian bands are stated as a main problem up to the mass migration in 1914.
7
According to the Yearbook of the Ministry of Education from 1317 (1898) there were
Greek schools in five of the villages. Currently I am unable to confirm whether some
schools were closed down later or the representatives were exaggerating a bit.
8
Josef Dobrovsky, Slovanka, V. 1, Praha 1814, pp. 86.
9
Thanks to Nick Nicholas from Australian National Data Service that gave me
information about the language and villages in Greece, where the Trakatroukides
have settled.
10
Димитър Шишманов, Невероятната съдба на малоазийските българи,
София 2001, с. 108.
11
Tacettin Akkuş, Gönen ve Köyleri Tarihçesi, Istanbul 2001, s. 133.
12
Шишманов, с. 72
13
 BOA, ML.VRD.TMT.d, nr. 07249
14
Лука Доросиев, Българските колонии в Мала Азия, сп. БАН, ХХІV, 1922, с.
32-193.
15
Шишманов, с. 9.
Emigration of Muslims from Bulgaria to the Bulgarian villages in North
Western Anutoliu. The cuse oI KocupInur und Necipköy villuges
Stoyan Shivarov (stoyan.shivarov (at) ottomanist.info)
Oriental Collections, Bulgarian National Library
Page 11/12
16
Шишманов, с. 217.
17
  Recently there is some shift in the Batak massacre evaluation that tries to put
responsibility on the Turkish minority instead of Pomaks.
18
  As oI Loduy Tirmriş does not exist except as a historical place. The ruins are still
there as is the Muslim graveyard.
19
 When compared to other villages of other 1912-1914 Pomak fugitives.
20
Доросиев, с.
21
 The term used is “Bulgarian Muslims”.
22
  We do not have the exact numbers as this village is not included in the 1899
salname. Still we have some archival sources from the mid to late 19
th
  century,
including cizye registers that prove Christians being vastly outnumbered.
23
  An excellent example, based both on archival sources and fieldwork, is the
monography of Kemal Gözler, Les villages pomaks de Lofça aux XVe et XVI siècles,
Ankara, 2001.
24
  One striking example of such inaccurate data on Anatolian Bulgarians are the
numbers, published in the pre 20
th
 century Ottoman Yearbooks. In 1897 Yearbook of
the vilayet of Hüdavendigar there are only 2431 Bulgarians recorded. If one relies
solely on such statistics it is quite hard to explain more than two fold increase of their
population in 1906.
Emigration of Muslims from Bulgaria to the Bulgarian villages in North
Western Anutoliu. The cuse oI KocupInur und Necipköy villuges
Stoyan Shivarov (stoyan.shivarov (at) ottomanist.info)
Oriental Collections, Bulgarian National Library
Page 12/12

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