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Arthur Fredekind

1959 г. р.

The son of a German and a Jew, Arthur Fredekind did not fit into the Soviet system from birth. Even as a child, having been persecuted because of both his nationalities, at the age of 17 he was sure that he would leave the country. When he failed to leave, he joined the hippie movement, issued leaflets in defense of the Polish Solidarity, already during perestroika he was convicted of anti-Soviet activities and sent to prison. But, having been released and given the opportunity to leave for Germany, Arthur returned to Ukraine to become an employee of the Center for the Study of the History of the Holocaust.

 

His family managed to leave Central Asia in the 1960s. They went to Rosa's homeland, to Dnipropetrovsk. Arthur first came to the Jewish environment, where they spoke Yiddish. And, for the first time, he encountered anti-Semitism – only his father's German origin saved him from local hooligans. At school, he was also treated with suspicion, which intensified when teachers learned that Arthur's German dad was never a Komsomol member, and that his Jewish grandfather was completely expelled from the party. Among the Jews, he, half German, could not be completely his own.

 

In 1973, his father's relatives managed to leave for Germany. They sent from there a large parcel of chocolate and gum – something incredible in those days. It was then that 14-year-old Arthur first had the idea that he could leave the country of victorious socialism. Parents, however, did not plan to leave the USSR and did not intend to let him go alone either.

 

In protest, Arthur began to get involved in Western culture. He grew long hair, got a guitar, began to listen to rock and roll and the Black Sabbath band, became interested in the hippie movement. And he was immediately registered with the police. As a result, when he was drafted into the army in 1977, his Jewish mother greeted the summons with delight. Rosa hoped that in the army, the fascination with Western nonsense would go away.

 

Arthur spent two years in the signal troops. Being a German by passport, at first he was in good standing and was even appointed a Komsomol organizer. But once his mother came to the unit in Bryansk – and he became a target for anti-Semitic statements for the rest of the service.

 

The army was over. Fredekind decided to enter Dnepropetrovsk State University. He was not accepted to the history faculty because of his German nationality, although they offered Russian philology, where there was always a shortage.

 

Philology was an interesting subject – Arthur Fredekind loved to read, wrote poetry and prose, and even published with his friends a literary magazine of hippie themes “Twentieth Century”. At the end of the first year, Arthur was summoned to the university personnel department. In the office he was met by the KGB officer. He promised Arthur a great future and even promised to send him to a special school near Moscow, where Arthur can be taught Hebrew and various dialects of German for further work abroad. But in return, the KGB officer asked to tell about the moods of Arthur's classmates and their attitude to the events in Poland.

 

Arthur was not going to snitch on fellow students. But he had nothing to hide – no one but Arthur had heard of Solidarity, interest in the West at the philological faculty was limited to the resale of jeans. Yes, no one believes in communism. “Do you believe?” – asked Arthur. The KGB officer interpreted the last phrase as a refusal to cooperate. He promised problems with his studies – and fulfilled his promise. Fredekind was expelled from his second year.

 

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When martial law was declared in Poland in 1981, Arthur suggested that his friends make leaflets with the word “Solidarity” and a question mark. After Andropov came to power in November 1982, in the group of Dnipropetrovsk hippies there was a revival: an idea arose to create an illegal party “United World”. The program that Arthur wrote spoke of the abolition of borders. Dnipropetrovsk dissidents dreamed of Tolstoy's communes and building a society without exploitation and violence. But among them was a snitch. By the fall of 1983, Arthur was under surveillance, now the KGB was seriously interested in him.

 

Fredekind, meanwhile, continued his “subversive” activities. On the holiday of the October Revolution in 1983, Arthur and his friends printed leaflets with depicted hands in shackles on one side; chains were made up of the word “officials”. The other one was printed with a quote from Lenin: “The state is an apparatus of violence in the hands of the ruling class” and the text: “Look how your director lives! What happens above?” Leaflets were scattered all over Dnepropetrovsk and... nothing happened. However, two years later, in April 1985, Fredekind was searched. Then it turned out that the KGB was well aware of his exploits. In August 1985, already under Gorbachev, Fredekind was given three years for disseminating deliberately false fabrications discrediting the Soviet state and social system (article 187-I of the Criminal Code of the Ukrainian SSR).

 

Fredekind was released only in April 1987. Arthur returned to Dnepropetrovsk and two years later was completely rehabilitated – Article 187-I of the Criminal Code of the Ukrainian SSR, according to which he was in prison, lost force immediately after the decision of the Congress of People's Deputies of the USSR.

 

At the end of 1988, Fredekind left for Moscow. He lived in hippie apartments, but gradually realized that agricultural communes for Moscow boys and girls are just beautiful words. Disappointed with the hippie movement, Arthur returned to Dnepropetrovsk. Political and social life was in full swing here. The Dnipropetrovsk Memorial Society, the People's Movement of Ukraine Party, Jewish and German organizations, an uncensored press and the first cooperatives appeared. Fredekind was finally being published.

 

In 1990, Fredekind was elected to the regional council of the People's Movement of Ukraine, which advocated the state independence of Ukrainians. In the late 1990s, Arthur worked for the Spielberg Foundation: collecting interviews with people who survived the Holocaust.

 

In 2001, when Spielberg's project came to an end, Arthur Fredekind moved to Germany. But six months later he came back - already as an employee of the Center for the Study of the History of the Holocaust. In 2007 he left for Germany for the second time. Now he is an actor in the city theater of Koblenz. Attends synagogue and is a member of the local Jewish community.