The region known in Bulgarian historiography as Western Thrace is a classic example of an anthropological border during the first half of the 20th century. In 1920 the area was handed over to Greece. The local Bulgarians experienced once again the dilemma of having to flee or to stay. This choice marked their lives and converted them into people with two identities – official (visible) and hidden (internal). A big part of those people who stood for and emphasized their Bulgarian heritage, fled or immigrated to Bulgaria – their regional identity quickly surfaced: it connected them with their physical motherland, brought them a temporary reassurance and kept their dream of returning back alive. The Bulgarian identity of those who remained in Greece was closed off and capsulated within their family circles which united ‘everyone who is like us’. Some of the people, who remained in Greece, were able to integrate in the Greek national society and gradually convert into ‘pure Greeks’. After time had passed and they met with their cousins from the other side of the border, it turned out that these blood relatives now had different national identities.
Keywords: Western Thrace, Bulgarians, immigrants, national and regional identity