Study trip Madrid 2011

Exile – A State of Mind?

We were together for a week in Madrid aiming to find out more about the phenomenon of “exile”, talking with many different people about their very different experiences with exile, differing in reasons or places to leave. We were comparing and discussing definitions from encyclopedias from different countries, trying to frame exile, to differ it from migration or asylum. We informed ourselves about legal terms, the conditions of asylum in Europe today, we were digging in European history to find events of exiles with common elements. But the more information we got, the more we struggled to find a common definition. And to be honest: We failed in that respect. But… We would like to share the things we actually found out. So read in our magazine “El Exilio” abo...[Read More]

Exile stories XVII: Rafael Safin, refugee from the former Soviet Union Republic – Tajikistan

Looking for a person who experienced exile, migration or something like that to interview in order to prepare for the Eustory seminar Aliya from Russia realized that she even does not have to go far away in searching: I can start from my nearest surrounding. My family experienced something similar to that in earlier 90s. That is why I decide to interview my elder brother Rafael. So here is the summery of the interview and some additional information from members of my family. Rafael Safin is 31 years old man now. He is a musician. He lives in Kazan, Russia. Rafael was born on the 28 November, in 1979. At the age of 14 his family and he moved from a small town named Kurban-Tube (Tadjikistan) to Alabuga (Russia). As he can judge it now, it was very important event in his life. The reason due...[Read More]

Exile stories XVI: A Spanish Odyssee

First Margarita was interviewed by Marta as a preparation of the seminar and her story was so amazing that we arranged another meeting with a group from during the interview. Margarita was born in Madrid in 1935. She belonged to the upper class and her father collaborated with the Republic Government as Director of Public Prosecutions. At the end of the Spanish Civil War, they had to pass the frontier and struggle to make ends meet in their new life in Paris. Those were not happy times for Margarita as she was hungry and cold and had no friends at school; then, when she was getting used to the new country, the family decided to migrate again to Venezuela. There she has been all her life, she got completely adapted to her new life and got married and had two children there; on the contrary,...[Read More]

Exile stories XV: „If my kids are happy, I’m happy too”

Martyna has gone to a refugee camp in Poland. There she found people from the Caucasus who escaped from the war and conflicts in their countries. She spoke with the officials of the camp and then had the opportunity to interview A., a woman from Dagestan who has lived as a refugee since one year and two months ago. In order to prepare the summary for the academy, I visited a centre for aliens applying for refugee status or asylum, placed 16km from my home. Due to one of recent law regulations, the centre should be removed – such places ought to be located up to 200 km from Eastern borders and it’s over 400 km in this case. Representatives of organisations helping refugees appealed against the resolution and were successful. There’re aliens from Russian republics as Chechnya and...[Read More]

Exile stories XIV: “Just being with your people…”

The person Jelena interviewed is her brothers wife, Tanja. She is from Bosnia, but she lives in the USA. She talked to her about her life and she told her how, why and when she and her parents left Bosnia, and how they ended up in USA. Tanja was born on 30th of September, 1981 in Zenica. She was the only child of her parents Milica and Marinko till 1991, when they had they second child Vladana. It took them ten years because they wanted to be more financially settled, as opposed when they had Tanja. When Vladana was born they had great jobs, built tree houses and were able to take vacations wherever they wanted because money wasn’t the problem anymore. It was March 25th 1992 when war started in Bosnia. The war was a result of breakup of the SFRY (Socialist Federalist Republic of Yugoslavia...[Read More]

Exile stories XIII: “At least the children got friends” – starting a new life in Denmark

Ida, from Denmark, interviewed Georgette, a 49-year-old Catholic refugee from Palestine, and her oldest daughter Bissan. Georgette is the mother of five children (age 12, 15, 19, 19, 20), all residing in Denmark. It has been four years since the family went to Denmark to be reunited with the father, Remaz (age 50). He had traveled there three years in advance to gain Danish citizenship before bringing his family to the new country. Georgette and Remaz got divorced in Denmark, a divorce that is almost impossible seeing that they are Catholics. Back when the family lived in Bethlehem, Palestine, both Remaz and Georgette were politically aware. They both participated in friendly demonstrations, but were caught with cardboard signs that were not loyal to the current Government’s politics. For ...[Read More]

Exile Stories XII: Leaving Germany after WWII – Exile in the French Foreign Legion?

Carsten found an unusual exile story, at least if you compare it to those we have already published: When I searched for interview partners for the project, a friend mentioned his great- uncle Adolf K. who went into exile to Africa and joined the French Foreign Legion. Adolf K. has already died, but his family had interviewed him due to his volatile past. They gave me an insight into their notations. Born in 1901, Adolf K. and his four siblings grew up on a farm near Berlin. His youth was shaped by the difficult conditions of the rural life, his military service during World War I and especially by the strict education by his father which caused lasting tension within the family. The tensions with his father aggravated to a serious conflict which forced Adolf to leave the farm. Thereupon h...[Read More]

Exile Stories XI: “Taking the decision was the most traumatic part” – from Cuba to Spain

Leopoldo is a Cuban exiled, son of Spanish parents exiled in 1936 before the beginning of the war. He was born in la Habana in 1938 and belonged to the upper medium class; when Castro’s revolution started in 1956 he decided to support it because he believed in communist ideology. However, while studying granted in Prague, he discovered Castro’s activity was no longer what he wished, and he started to have political problems. So in 1970, while returning to Cuba by ship, he managed to escape in Rotterdam’s port and ask for political asylum; one month later he was getting a Spanish visa an arriving to Madrid. Here he finished his degree in History and lived on doing translations until he got a job as civil servant. Nowadays he is retired but continues working for the Cuban cause: he collabora...[Read More]

Exile stories X: Klodian, walking on a bridge between Albania and Italy

The following story is not explicitly an exile story but we learned, that this term is not that easy to define. The person Marica has decided to interview has a long and particular story as a migrant. His name is Klodian, he’s a student at the University and a musician. Now he’s 27 years old but when he came for the first time in Italy he was only 6. Our interview begun with the description of his personal background in Albania before the departure…”I was born in Tirana , my family was composed of 6 members. Myfather was a factory worker for engineer industry, my mother worked in a textile industry  and my two sisters and one brother attended the school of the city. I was really young when I was in Tirana but I still clearly remember my life before the departure. It’s seems to me as I was ...[Read More]

Exile stories IX: Reburn into a new world

Ondrej from Czech Republic interviewed his uncle to get a story. In my first memories from the early nineties, I remember my uncle with a beard, long curly hair, a permanent cigarette in his mouth and in a leather jacket. In the following two decades, Jan has become a somewhat more settled gentleman, but his manager-like phone on the table still rings with a solo of Hendrix’ Stratocaster during our interview. We start with discussing the differences between exile and legal or illegal emigration. There were few people in the former Czechoslovakia who were forced to leave their country (exiled) and many who left it voluntarily (yet illegally) because of the regime. Strictly speaking, Jan was not an exile, but neither did he leave just because of the bigger comfort offered by the other side o...[Read More]

Exile stories VIII: Deportation and Exile, randomly chosen?

Tamara from Slovenia interviewed her grandmother about her experience of deportation during WWII. I was firstly acquainted with the topic of exile when I was a little child, since my grandmother experienced forced exile during the Second World War. Consequently I heard many stories of her from that period in her life, but to get more detailed and accurate information I conducted an interview with my grandmother Marija Čakić. Marija  was  born  on  23  th  of  November  1934  in little  village  called  Lahonci (70  km  from Maribor).  She  lived  her  childhood  years  in  that  village  with  her  parents,  three  younger brothers  and  a  younger  sister.  Her mother  stayed  at  home  and  took care  of  five  children and  home, while her father earned money as a mason in a nearby city...[Read More]

Exile Stories VII: From Bulgaria into the French Resistance: The life of Milka Genadieva

Kalina from Bulgaria found the person she wanted to write about while talking to a friend: Milka Genadieva was a very privileged young woman, being daughter of the famous Bulgarian politician Nikola Genadiev. Nikola Genadiev was Bulgarian politician, who was the leader of the Bulgarian liberal peoples’ party and has been very active in the party since 1892, being Minister of Justice (1903 – 1904) and Trade and Agriculture Minister (1904 – 1908). But before reaching this political career he had a long way to go. He was born on 1 December 1868 in Bitola (nowadays FYROM) but since his family had a very Bulgarian identity they moved to Plovdiv – a city in South of Bulgaria. He very quickly integrated in the new societal circles and became a very famous lawyer and started his politi...[Read More]