The Balkan Reconquista and Turkey’s Forgotten Refugee Crisis

During the Russo-Ottoman War of 1877–1878, Russian troops, Cossack auxiliaries, and local Bulgarians participated in what today would be called ethnic cleansing. Tensions in the Balkans between Christians and Muslims ended in disaster when hundreds of thousands of Muslims were massacred, raped, and forced to flee from Bulgaria to Turkey as their villages were sacked and their homes destroyed.
In this book, William H. Holt tells the story of a people and moment in time that has largely been neglected in modern Turkish and Balkan memory. Holt uncovers the reasons for this mass forgetting, finding context both within the development of the modern Turkish state and the workings of collective memory. Bringing together a wide array of eyewitness accounts, the book provides unprecedented detail on the plight of the Muslim refugees in their flight from Bulgaria, in Istanbul, and in their resettlement in Anatolia. In crisp, clear, and engaging prose, Holt offers an insightful analysis of human suffering and social memory.

William H. Holt received a master’s degree from the University of Utah’s Middle East Studies program in 2014.

Table of Contents:
List of Figures
1. Twilight in Turkey-in-Europe
2. Bag and Baggage
3. Massacre and Expulsion 
4. Refuge and Resettlement
5. Aphasia and Amnesia
Works Cited  

Praise and Reviews:

“Holt presents new data, a discourse about the lack of data, and frames the problem within new theories about memory and history. At the same time, the book is very engaging, even when the subject matter is dark and disturbing. Holt has a good writing style that flows and does not become overly technical. It is accessible for the general reader as well as for the college student.”
—Pam Sezgin, professor of anthropology and history, University of North Georgia

“A much-needed account of a forgotten trauma: the massacres, flight and expulsion of Muslims from the Balkans after 1876, focusing on what is now Bulgaria. William Holt’s compelling narrative illuminates the nature of memory and nationalism, as well as the origins of ethnic cleansing in the Balkans.”
—Philip Mansel, author of Constantinople, City of the World’s Desire