Tomasz Kamusella: The Forgotten 1989 Expulsion of Turks from Communist Bulgaria

In 1989 the Bulgarian communist regime seeking to prop up its legitimacy expelled 360,000 Turks and Muslims to Turkey. It was the single largest ethnic cleansing during the Cold War period in Europe after the end of the postwar ‘population transfers’ in the early 1950s. Furthermore, this expulsion of Turks and Muslims from Bulgaria was the sole mass expulsion that ever breached the Iron Curtain. Not only did the 1989 ethnic cleansing triggered the end of communism in Bulgaria, but was also followed by an unprecedented return of almost half of the expellees. Despite the unprecedented character of this 1989 expulsion and its wide-ranging ramifications, not a single research article (let alone a monograph) has been devoted to these events. On the plane of international relations, without remembering about this expulsion, researchers will continue to be astounded why Yugoslav ethnic leaders might think that they could conduct ethnic cleansing with impunity. However, they did know that neither the West nor the East reacted in 1989 in Bulgaria. That is the explanation. Until the 1995 NATO intervention in Bosnia, ‘population transfers’ were seen as a legal instrument of and for fortifying human rights.

Dr Habil Tomasz Kamusella is a reader in modern history in the School of History at the University of St Andrews, Scotland, Britain. His English-language monographs include, Creating Languages in Central Europe During the Last Millennium (2014), The Politics of Language and Nationalism in Modern Central Europe (2008), Silesia and Central European Nationalisms: The Emergence of National and Ethnic Groups in Prussian Silesia and Austrian Silesia, 1848-1918 (2006). He founded the book series Nationalisms Across the Globe (2009-) and co-edited the following volumes, Creating Nationality in Central Europe, 1880-1950: Modernity, Violence and (Be) Longing in Upper Silesia (2016), The Palgrave Handbook of Slavic Languages, Identities and Borders (2015), Nationalisms Today (2009), and Nationalisms Across the Globe (2005-6). At present he is working on Historical Atlas of Language Politics in Modern Europe and on a monograph on the history and dynamics of ethnolinguistic nationalism in Central Europe. Tomasz Kamusella worked and did research at universities and in research institutions in Austria, Britain, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Poland and the United States. He obtained education and his degrees at universities in Czechia, Poland and South Africa.