1917 (Schaerbeek, Belgium) - 1944 (KZ Buchenwald)Engineer
"The salvation of humanity will not arise from a spirit of military obedience."
Jean Burgers was born in the Belgian town of Schaerbeek on 6 July 1917. Following his schooling at the Athenaeum Saint-Gilles in Brussels, he enrolled for poly-technical studies (mechanics and electrics) at the Université Libre des Bruxelles in 1935. While at university, he was active in furthering democratic teaching. He became the editor in chief of the monthly magazine Cahiers du Libre-Examen and was head of publishing for the weekly newspaper Jeudi. Both publications served the cultivation of a political and cultural self-conception at the Free University of Brussels. In July 1940, he married the mathematician Hélène Léva.
After his graduation in 1940, Burgers became an engineer for a large Belgian electricity supplier. Following the German invasion in May 1940, he and four friends founded a resistance organization that aimed at weakening the enemy with targeted acts of sabotage. In 1943, Burgers became commander of Group G. This nation-wide resistance group of engineers and technicians was organized in military fashion and sabotaged German economic and armament politics by carrying out a coordinated selective destruction of infrastructure in the country. A concerted sabotage attack on all main power lines in the night of 15 January 1944, for instance, led to a loss of ten million work hours.
On 17 March 1944, Burgers and other resistance fighters were arrested by the Gestapo. After time in prison in Saint-Gilles and Breendonk, he was taken to Buchenwald Concentration Camp on 8 May 1944. The SS hanged Jean Burgers in the basement of the crematorium on 5 September 1944.