BULGARIANS AND GERMANS IN BESSARABIA: THE IMAGE OF THE NEIGHBOURS – Galin Georgiev, Valentin Lazarov


Author: Galin Georgiev

Abstract

Bulgarians and Germans along with other ethnic groups such as Moldovians, Ukrainians, Albanians, Gypsies, etc. inhabited the territory of Bessarabia until 1940 when, in keeping with an agreement between the USSR and Germany, the mass of German colonists` descendants were repatriated to their historical fatherland. This study explores the collective memory of Bulgarians about their German neighbours. It is based on biographical and thematic interviews of men and women, which, in their young age, have had personal experience of the contacts with German people. From the information provided, it is clear that, in general, the Bulgarians in Bessarabia remember Germans as rich people with ordered settlements. Clear is the image of the honest, hardworking, proud and disciplined owners, possessors of plenty of good lands, pastures, water and wells, of large and fed horses, and of sheep, pigs, ducks etc. – excellent farmers and livestock breeders. Very often the Bulgarians emphasize the exceptional entrepreneurship, skills and mastery of the Germans in different directions. They are remembered as very good craftsmen, who trained the people in the surrounding villages in construction, carpentry, cooperage, shoemaking, furriery, blacksmithing, cart making, etc. The narratives provide a rich source for investigation of the ethnic boundaries construction in Bessarabia in the first decades of the 20th century.

 Keywords: Bulgarians, Germans, Bessarabia, collective memory, ethnic boundaries.