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The House that Ger-Aga built - Outstanding Kazakh writer Gerold Berger died

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By Beket Karashin

Gerold BergerGerold BergerAn outstanding Kazakhstan writer Gerold Belger (Ger-aga) died on February 7, 2015.  Gerold Belger passed away aged 81 from the heart disease.

In the past various scientists, writers, historians, ethnographers sich as Potanin, Radlov, Bartold, L. Gumilyov, Simashko and others described, investigated the history and culture, customs and traditions, language and literature of the Kazakhs. These are the names of those scholars who did it objectively and with good will, and not due to prescribed ideological or political lines of action.

Gerold Belger truly deserves to stand in this row of outstanding people.

But, at the same time, the name of Gerold Karlovich is much closer and dear to the hearts of Kazakhs than the other great names and here is why.

From his childhood he drank in and absorbed the history of the Kazakh people, their language, literature, customs and traditions, art and moral values without prejudice, naturally.

He rightfully wrote: “The history of nomads is an intricate, magnificent labyrinth where very often hopelessly the crowds of historians walk astray, especially the foreign ones”.

For decades he furiously, professionally protected and discovered the richness of the Kazakh language, and sincerely admired its force, plasticity and uniqueness.

He so scrupulously collected the Kazakh terminology for designation of flora and fauna phenomena, existential relations, public and domestic life and  all that surrounded the steppe person.

He so meticulously tried to go down to the roots of nomadic inner world and find moral, spiritual and traditional treasures.

Yes, he was a true German. Everybody is familiar with such German traits of character, such as will power, diligence, validity, meticulousness, strictness and punctuality. All of those qualities are certainly inherent to Ger- aga. He hasn’t spent day without reading or writing. He was interested in everything that went on in Kazakhstan, it was his business also. He created a gallery of literary portraits of outstanding writers of Kazakhstan, translated numerous books of Kazakh authors into Russian and German languages. He wrote reviews to many books and articles of unknown authors, he was on television, he bravely criticized the policy of the people in power.

“It seemed that he never knew what fatigue was and will never learn what an old age is”.

He lived over 70 years in Kazakhstan, he graduated from the Kazakh school and he wrote many books in the Kazakh language.

I first met Ger-aga over 10 years ago in his house. He met me with typical Kazakh hospitality and treated me, a total stranger to him at that time, with kazy (horse sausage) that he cooked himself.  

The “house” that Gerold Belger built with his German thoroughness is his contribution into the Kazakh literature. He freely and joyfully lived in it, its doors were open to all, and the space of this house was capable to accomodate all those who was eager and thirsty to experience the hospitality of its owner and to enjoy the invaluable sources of the Kazakh word.

His favorite walk was to the monument of Shokan Valikhanov in Almaty. He was always surrounded with friends. Those walks were not simply walks, but reflection walks, dialogue walks, lessons of life walks.

And now he is no longer with us. Let your soul rest in peace and let the soil be as soft as an eiderdown for you, our dear Ger-aga!

February 9 2015, 17:16

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