Heinrich Bürger
Heinrich Bürger (Hamelin
Hamelin is a town on the river Weser in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is the capital of the district of Hamelin-Pyrmont and has a population of 58,696 ....

, 29 February 1804, or 7 November 1804, or 20 January 1806, - Indramayu
Indramayu is a City in the West Java province of Indonesia the capital of Indramayu Regency.The town of Indramayu is located in the North coastal area of West Java, and East from jakarta and North East from the city of Bandung and North West of the city of Cirebon...

Java is an island of Indonesia. With a population of 135 million , it is the world's most populous island, and one of the most densely populated regions in the world. It is home to 60% of Indonesia's population. The Indonesian capital city, Jakarta, is in west Java...

) 25 March 1858) was a by birth German
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

A physicist is a scientist who studies or practices physics. Physicists study a wide range of physical phenomena in many branches of physics spanning all length scales: from sub-atomic particles of which all ordinary matter is made to the behavior of the material Universe as a whole...

, biologist
A biologist is a scientist devoted to and producing results in biology through the study of life. Typically biologists study organisms and their relationship to their environment. Biologists involved in basic research attempt to discover underlying mechanisms that govern how organisms work...

 and botanist employed by the Dutch government, and an entrepreneur. He was an important person for the study of Japanese fauna
Fauna or faunæ is all of the animal life of any particular region or time. The corresponding term for plants is flora.Zoologists and paleontologists use fauna to refer to a typical collection of animals found in a specific time or place, e.g. the "Sonoran Desert fauna" or the "Burgess shale fauna"...

 and flora
Flora is the plant life occurring in a particular region or time, generally the naturally occurring or indigenous—native plant life. The corresponding term for animals is fauna.-Etymology:...



Bürger's exact birth date is unknown. Bürger himself gave 29 February 1804. Most archival sources have the year 1806; it looks as if Heinrich moved his birth date two years back so as to appear older. Bürger was Jewish; his father was a merchant and “Schutzjude” in Hamlin, who went bankrupt in 1817, and died in 1821.


In the years 1821-1822 Heinrich studied mathematics and astronomy at Göttingen
Göttingen is a university town in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is the capital of the district of Göttingen. The Leine river runs through the town. In 2006 the population was 129,686.-General information:...

 university. Though he sometimes used the title of doctor, no proof has been found of an academic promotion. In 1824 Bürger left for Batavia (Dutch East Indies), now Jakarta
Jakarta is the capital and largest city of Indonesia. Officially known as the Special Capital Territory of Jakarta, it is located on the northwest coast of Java, has an area of , and a population of 9,580,000. Jakarta is the country's economic, cultural and political centre...

, where he visited the school for apothecaries. On 14 January 1825 he gained the degree of apothecary 3rd class.


On 14 juni 1825 Heinrich Bürger was appointed by the Dutch government as the assistant of Philipp Franz von Siebold
Philipp Franz von Siebold
Philipp Franz Balthasar von Siebold was a German physician and traveller. He was the first European to teach Western medicine in Japan...

 on the isle of Dejima
was a small fan-shaped artificial island built in the bay of Nagasaki in 1634. This island, which was formed by digging a canal through a small peninsula, remained as the single place of direct trade and exchange between Japan and the outside world during the Edo period. Dejima was built to...

 (Nagasaki, Japan) for the "natural research" in Japan. He left for Japan on the 1st of July.
On Dejima Bürger did chemistry and biological research, and he taught the Japanese. He also was head of pharmacy and assisted Siebold's polyclinical visits to patients outside Dejima. In 1828 Bürger was appointed as successor of Von Siebold as far as the chemical, natural and biological work was concerned. In the following years he collected large quantities of plants and animals, among which 650 fishes. Much of this material was used for the later publication Fauna Japonica by Temminck and Schlegel
Schlegel is a name of German origin, related to Schlägel "sledgehammer, mallet". It may refer to:-Places:*Schlegel, Saxony, a village in the district of Löbau-Zittau in Saxony belonging to the town of Zittau...

. Plants sent by Bürger arrived in the botanical gardens of university cities like Leiden, Groningen, Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

, Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

, London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, Florence
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

 and St. Louis. The Naturalis
Naturalis is the national natural history museum of the Netherlands, based in Leiden. It originated from the merger of the Rijksmuseum van Natuurlijke Historie and the Rijksmuseum van Geologie en Mineralogie in 1984. In 1986 it was decided that the museum had to become a public museum and a new...

 Museum in Leiden boasts a large Bürger collection. Although Bürger is mentioned in the IPNI
The International Plant Names Index is a database of botanical names. It indexes names of seed plants, ferns and "fern allies". Coverage is best at the rank of species and genus...

, he did not describe new plants. But he has been honoured by those who worked on his collections: they have named many of the new species he collected after him. These species can be recognized by the epitheton “Buergerianum” or “Burgeri(i)”.


In 1832 or 1833 (literary sources contradict each other here) Bürger was 'added' to the "Committee for natural research in East-India". In that capacity he visited Sumatra
Sumatra is an island in western Indonesia, westernmost of the Sunda Islands. It is the largest island entirely in Indonesia , and the sixth largest island in the world at 473,481 km2 with a population of 50,365,538...

 between June and December 1833. In that period he planned a road from the Padang
Padang, Indonesia
Padang is the capital and largest city of West Sumatra, Indonesia. It is located on the western coast of Sumatra at . It has an area of and a population of over 833,000 people at the 2010 Census.-History:...

 lowlands to the inlands; the road through the Anai Valley, which today is a tourist attraction because of its natural beauty. The realisation of this road got him the Order of the Netherlands Lion. In 1833 Bürger married Anna Cornelia van Daalen in Padang. In 1834 and 1835 he was back on Dejima, but he installed his wife in Batavia.


From 1 July 1835 Bürger was relieved of his duties in Japan. In 1840-1841 he traveled extensively with his family throughout western Europe. Back on Java he was pensioned off in 1842 as a member of the Natural Committee, and on 30 June 1843 he was honorably discharged from public service. Heinrich then moved into business, a.o. the production of rice and oil on Bangka
Bangka can refer to:* Bangka Island, an island of Indonesia* Bangka Regency, Indonesia* Bangka Strait, a strait of Indonesia* Bangka language, spoken in Indonesia* Tagalog: bangka, an outrigger canoe* Wanhua District, Taipei City...

, the Nederlandsch-Indische Zee-Assurantie Maatschappij (marine insurances), de Maatschappij tot Bevordering van Mijnontginningen in Nederlandsch-Indië (Society for the advancement of mining development in the Dutch Indies), which operated on Borneo
Borneo is the third largest island in the world and is located north of Java Island, Indonesia, at the geographic centre of Maritime Southeast Asia....

, and he was co-owner of sugar factory Rejosari in Magetan
Magetan is a regency of East Java, Indonesia.Within Magetan there is a subdivision also called Magetan. Magetan has a famous lake called Sarangan Lake which is located in the Sarangan District. The chairman of "Jawa Pos Group", a famous newspaper in Indonesia, Dahlan Iskan, was born here. Also...

 (Madiun Residency, Java). Bürger also was a prominent member of the social club "De Harmonie" in Batavia 1850-1853.


  • Hitherto unpublished archival research by P.M. Kernkamp in Wageningen, Holland
  • M.J. van Steenis - Kruseman: Heinrich Bürger (?1806 - 1858), explorer in Japan and Sumatra, in: "Blumea" jg. 11, nr. 2, 1962
  • M. Boeseman: Revision of the fishes collected by Burger and Von Siebold in Japan. in: "Zoologische Mededelingen
    Zoologische Mededelingen
    Zoologische Mededelingen publishes papers and monographs on vertebrate and invertebrate systematics. The publisher is the National Museum of Natural History Naturalis in The Netherlands. The first issue of Zoologische Mededeelingen appeared in 1915, as the official journal of Naturalis' predecessor...

    ", Vol. 28, 1947, p.1-242 PDF
  • M. Uéno: A Japanese portrait of Heinrich Bürger. in: Zoologische Mededelingen
    Zoologische Mededelingen
    Zoologische Mededelingen publishes papers and monographs on vertebrate and invertebrate systematics. The publisher is the National Museum of Natural History Naturalis in The Netherlands. The first issue of Zoologische Mededeelingen appeared in 1915, as the official journal of Naturalis' predecessor...

    Vol. 49, 1975, p. 91-93 PDF
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