The painful memories of the ination of a professor in Normandy, forty-five years before the tragedy of Saint-Jean-de-Luz

You have to know it, approach and look closely, to discern, engraved in a ceramic tile in beige and brown tones, letters with round shapes. A name: Gerard Burgon. And further on, the figures of a date: 25, 2, 78. This plate, sealed on the wall of the garages reserved for the personnel of the Léonard-de-Vinci college, in Saint-Marcel (Eure), is visible from the room teachers, on the other side of the car park, but it refers to a history so distant that no one really knows what it corresponds to.

Who remembers Gérard Burgon, a science teacher, murdered in this establishment on February 25, 1978, by a 3-year-old student?e who then committed suicide? “Our history has been buried”, summarizes Françoise Bournique, 70, a former mathematics teacher. “Even after the drama of Saint-Jean-de-Luz [Pyrénées-Atlantiques], which looked a lot like ours, no one talked about us”abounds his ex-colleague of French-Latin, Nicole R., 74 years old.

For them, the Saint-Jean-de-Luz affair – the death of a Spanish teacher stabbed by a 16-year-old boy on February 22 – turned out to be as unpredictable, as inconceivable as that which had occurred in their college, forty-five years earlier almost to the day.

But the comparison stops there: if you look closely, the two cases tell of two eras. In Normandy in 1978, there were neither visits from ministers nor a word of compion from the executive, nor a minute of silence either. According to witnesses that The world was able to find – a dozen in total -, this drama was even “choked”

It all started in the heart of the winter of 1978, in Saint-Marcel. “A neat little town, a hillside village fattened one day by the factories overflowing from Vernon”will write The world three days after the tragedy. The life of some 4,200 inhabitants is organized around the square on the heights of the old village, with its butcher’s shop and its bakery, the primary school and the college, opened in 1971.

The school accommodates 500 students; the teaching staff is mostly made up of young teachers. The principal, who manages his world like a benevolent father, lives there with his wife and children. “We were a small family, remembers Françoise Bournique. And he had a lot to do with this good atmosphere. He was a very human person, he trusted us. » Pierre, the husband of Nicole R., the French-Latin teacher, teaches science at the same college. In the fall of 1977, shortly before the All Saints holidays, he had to leave to do his military service. Since then, a 29-year-old Parisian istant teacher, Gérard Burgon, has replaced him.

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