Friday, May 26, 2006

The odd case of Kaspar Hauser

Today according to Australian Eastern Standard Time when this item was posted
1828 Kaspar Hauser showed up in Nuremburg.

This is a story that intrigues me as much for the way it captivated the German people of its day and succeeding generations, as for its intrinsic oddness.

On this day, at about 4 o'clock in the afternoon, a youth of about 16 or 17 years of age showed up in a pathetic condition in the marketplace in Nuremburg, Germany.

The boy was dressed in peasant clothes, and had with him a letter addressed to the cavalry captain of the city. He was led to the captain and interrogated, and it was found he could scarcely speak. To every question he replied “Von Regensburg” (from Regensburg) or “Ich woais nit” (I don't know). Except for dry bread and water, he showed a violent dislike to all forms of food and drink. He seemed ignorant of commonplace objects. He carried a handkerchief marked ‘KH’ and a few written Catholic prayers.

In the letter that he carried, it was stated that the writer was a poor day-labourer who had ten children of his own. The man had found the boy deposited on his doorstep by his mother, and had secretly brought the boy up as his own, keeping him confined to the house, somewhere in Bavaria. The boy, said the letter, had expressed an interest in becoming a horse soldier. Accompanying this letter was also a note purportedly from the boy's mother, saying that she, a poor girl, had had the baby, named Kaspar Hauser, on April 30 (Walpurgisnacht, the witching time), 1812, and that his father, an officer in Nuremburg's sixth regiment, was dead.

A burgomaster named Binder took a kindly interest in Kaspar. In the course of many conversations with him, it was discovered that the boy had been kept underground all his life, in a space so small he could not stretch to full length. He had been fed only on bread and water by a man who never showed himself ...

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