Ivan Dudar (1921 – 2008) was born in 1921 in the village of Klyshky. His parents had five children, he and his older brother Grigory however were the only surviving children; all other children died at a young age.
From 1939, Ivan Dudar was a student of the Krolevets Art College. For health reasons, he was not drafted into the Red Army in the summer of 1941 and thus remained under occupation. In 1941, his older brother Grigory got surrounded by the Nazis, walked all the way home to his village and stayed in the occupied territory. For this, he was accused of desertion by the Soviet authorities in 1943, arrested, and died on his way to prison.
In June 1942, Ivan, like many of his fellow villagers, was deported to work in Germany. From Berlin, Ivan was initially sent to a pulp mill near Bielefeld. Three months later however, he was transferred to work at the Liebenau Powder Plant and lived in a camp for Ostarbeiters in Steierberg.
Dudar found himself working in the so-called acid shop. Although acid work is very dangerous, few workers were issued special protective clothing. In June 1944, an accident occurred: during a transfusion, acid spilled on Ivan and burned his hands and feet. He stayed at the hospital wing for a few weeks. Almost until the end of life, the wounds tortured Dudar, they never healed completely. The injury was so serious that the Labor Exchange of Ninburg did not give permission for him to continue working at the plant and transferred him to a farm to work for the Gormann family in the nearby village of Vellie. Dudar remembers this old couple with special respect, because these people treated him as an equal rather than as “Russian cattle”.
After the war and the filtration check by the NKVD, Ivan had to work for a year at a cement plant in the Urals. It was only here that he could resume correspondence with his parents for the first time; for three years, they heard nothing about their son. They wrote to him about the misfortune that befell his older brother.
In 1946, the government issued a decree that the returned students had the right to go back to studies. Dudar’s parents sent a certificate from the Krolevets Art College to the Urals, and he was allowed to go home. He continued his studies, then worked as an artist at the Krolevets weaving factory, and later became the chief artist of the enterprise.
Produce of the Krolevets factory gained recognition outside Ukraine. Ivan Dudar’s works have been exhibited at numerous national and international exhibitions (for example, at the Leipzig Fair in the 1950s). Art critics wrote about his works, he was rewarded many diplomas and awards by the Soviet Ministry of Culture and the Academy of Arts. However, he could not personally attend these international exhibitions: the former “Ostarbeiter” had no right to travel abroad. A trip to Libenau in 2002 became his first trip abroad.