Kaspar Hauser

From Academic Kids

Kaspar Hauser (April 30?, 1812December 17, 1833) was a mysterious foundling in 19th century Germany with alleged ties to the royal house of Baden.



In May 26 1828 a young boy appeared in the streets of Nrnberg, Germany. He was wearing peasant clothing and could barely talk. His only documentation was a letter to the captain of the 4th squadron of the 6th cavalry regiment, where the writer asked the captain to either take him or hang him.

Shoemaker Weissman took the boy to the house of captain Wessenig where he could only repeat, "I want to be a rider like my father." Further demands resulted only in tears. He was taken to a police station where he would only write a name: Kaspar Hauser. A letter with him claimed that he was born on April 30 1812.

The next two months he spent in Vestner Gate Tower in the care of a jailor, Andreas Hiltel. Various curious people visited him, to his apparent delight. He could only smile, walk in toddler's step and could barely use his fingers. He could only eat water and bread. He was maybe sixteen years old but had the mental development of a 6-year-old. However, mayor Binder claimed that he had an excellent memory, which, to him, suggested a noble birth.

He still suffered from periods of catalepsy and convulsions. Eventually he was able to communicate enough so he could tell his story.

Hauser said that most of his life — maybe 10–12 years — he had lived in a dark 2×1×1.5 metre cell with only a straw bed for his company. He consumed only bread and water. Sometimes he was drugged so that somebody could change his clothes and cut his hair. The first human being he had seen was a man who had taught him the phrase, "I want to be a rider like my father", and to write Kaspar Hauser. Eventually the man took him outside where he fainted. The next thing he remembered was the day he had walked in Nuremberg.

This strange boy inspired some Europe-wide interest and he received even more visitors. Some took him to be a con artist who just pretended to be dumb. Others began to connect him with the family of the Grand Duke of Baden, due to some facial resemblance. In this case, his parents would have been Karl Ludwig Friedrich, Grand Duke of Baden and Stephanie de Beauharnais, adopted daughter of Napoleon I of France. Because Karl Friedrich had no male progeny, his successor was his uncle Leopold I of Baden whose mother, the Countess von Hochberg was the alleged culprit of the boy's captivity.

Paul Johann Anselm Ritter von Feuerbach, president of the Bavarian court of appeals, began to investigate the case. Hauser was given to the care of a schoolteacher, Friedrich Daumer who taught him to speak, read and write. He also subjected him to homeopathic treatments and encouraged him to write a diary. He appeared to flourish in this environment.

On October 17 1829, a hooded man tried to kill Hauser with an axe but managed only to wound his forehead. Alarmed officials called for a police escort and transferred him to the care of Johann Biberbach and six months later to Baron von Tucher. Tucher found him employment as a copier in the local law office. The apparent assassination attempt also fueled rumors about his connection to the house of Baden.

A British nobleman, Lord Stanhope, took an interest in Hauser and apparently tried to win his trust by gifts. He also tried to gain custody of him. He transferred Hauser to Ansbach to the care of Johan Georg Meyer. He also hurriedly declared that Hauser was a Hungarian and not of noble blood. Various historians suspect him of ulterior motives and connections to the house of Baden.

In December 14, 1833, Hauser was lured to Ansbacher Hofgarten with the promise that he would hear something about his ancestry. Instead, a stranger stabbed him fatally to the chest. He struggled back home but died three days later. For some reason, Stanhope and Meyer tried to claim that the cause of death was suicide. A monument to him reads, Hic occultus occulto occisus est: "Here an unknown was killed by an unknown."


Legend and analyses of the Kaspar Hauser case continue to this day. In addition to theories of royal blood and outright imposture, medical analyses include amnesia caused by hypnosis or that Kaspar Hauser had been suffering from a kind of epilepsy, autism or psychogenic dwarfism (see Feral children). Conspiracy theories concentrate on the House of Baden and Lord Stanhope.

In November 1996 the German magazine Der Spiegel reported an attempt to genetically match a blood sample from Kaspar Hauser's assumed pants. This analysis was made in laboratories of Forensic Science Service in Birmingham and in the LMU Institute of Legal Medicine in University of Munich. Comparisons with the members of the royal family were inconclusive. It later became clear that the examined pants did not come from Kaspar Hauser.

In 2002 however, the Institute for Forensic Medicine of the University of Mnster analyzed hair and body cells that were also alleged to belong to Kaspar Hauser, and came to a more conclusive result. From different sources six samples altogether were taken: The boy's hat and trousers along with his hair curls, partially from the private collection of the Ansbacher chief presiding judge Feuerbach. The analysis took a long time as the results in the laboratory were examined several times over for the sake of accuracy. The genetic code was the same in all six samples, and was a 95% match to that of Astrid von Medinger, a descendant of Stephanie de Beauharnais, who would have been Kaspar Hauser's mother if indeed he had been the hereditary prince of Baden. The DNA evidence would seem to argue that Kaspar Hauser was indeed a descendant of the House of Baden.

In 1974 the German filmmaker Werner Herzog made Hauser's story into a film, Jeder fr sich und Gott gegen alle (Every Man for Himself and God Against All). In English the film was either known by that translation, or by the title, The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser.

The case of Kaspar Hauser has also inspired other artists like playwrights Paul Verlaine and Peter Handke and musicians like Suzanne Vega. Robert Heinlein refers to 'Kaspar Hausers' as an analogue to persons popping in and out of metaphysical planes in his novel Glory Road. Anthroposophists see mystic qualities in him.


  • Kaspar Hauser: Europe's Child, Martin Kitchen, Palgrave MacMillan, 2001 [ISBN 0333962141]
  • The Great Pretenders, Jan Bondeson, WW Norton, 2004 [ISBN 0393019691]


  • Jakob WassermannCaspar Hauser or the Inertia of the Heart

External links

eo:Kaspar HAUSER hu:Kaspar Hauser nl:Kaspar Hauser pt:Kaspar Hauser ru:Хаузер, Каспар sv:Kaspar Hauser


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