“He truly loved the purple sun, descending from the hills, / The ways through the woods, the singing blackbird, / And the joys of green.” Thus, he was described by the ill-fated poet George Trakl in a well-known poem, Kaspar Hauser’s Song. He might also be remembered as Werner Herzog portrayed him in his own cinematographic adaptation of the legend, The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (1974). Beyond speculation, we know little of the mysterious character who appeared on an uncertain day in 1828 in Nuremberg, Germany, with a letter bearing his name. From his mental state, it was soon deduced that the adolescent had been held in captivity for a long time. He could not speak, let alone read or write. This attracted the attention of theologians and scientists at the time, and they believed they’d found in the young Kaspar the ideal model of a wild child, a case of a feral child.

Kaspar Hauser, as could be deduced through the limited communication when he’d learned the rudiments of language, had remained chained for years without contact with the outside world. When he appeared in Nuremberg, his cognitive development was at the level of a baby. Attempts to teach him to speak, write, and read resulted in surprising findings. The enigmatic young man was alert to the subtlest events in nature, and his logical virginity made him question some of the most immovable dogmas of the time. 

kasparhauser1

Perhaps because Hauser was, in strict terms, a newborn, his astonishment at the world was limitless. This only piqued the interest of the curious who gathered around. Imagine for a moment going into the outside world for the first time, and how valuable we might then find everything we normally take for granted. Germany’s most rational minds couldn’t understand the stupefaction that seized the mysterious young man when he saw but a reflection on the surface of the water. His mentor, the jurist Anselm Von Feuerbach, noted that once, before a starry sky, Kaspar Hauser had shuddered at its beauty. He understood, perhaps for the first time, that those who’d kept him locked up for so long had by no means been his benefactors.

The so-called “orphan of Europe,” he disappeared from the cold streets of Nuremberg in the same way he’d appeared: shrouded in mystery. He was brutally murdered on December 14, 1833. Trakl’s poem relives, in one of its final verses, the tragic event: “He saw the snow fall on bare branches, /

And in the murky doorway the assassin’s shadow. / Silvern sank the unborne’s head.” 

Images: 1) Public domain 2) Public domain

“He truly loved the purple sun, descending from the hills, / The ways through the woods, the singing blackbird, / And the joys of green.” Thus, he was described by the ill-fated poet George Trakl in a well-known poem, Kaspar Hauser’s Song. He might also be remembered as Werner Herzog portrayed him in his own cinematographic adaptation of the legend, The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (1974). Beyond speculation, we know little of the mysterious character who appeared on an uncertain day in 1828 in Nuremberg, Germany, with a letter bearing his name. From his mental state, it was soon deduced that the adolescent had been held in captivity for a long time. He could not speak, let alone read or write. This attracted the attention of theologians and scientists at the time, and they believed they’d found in the young Kaspar the ideal model of a wild child, a case of a feral child.

Kaspar Hauser, as could be deduced through the limited communication when he’d learned the rudiments of language, had remained chained for years without contact with the outside world. When he appeared in Nuremberg, his cognitive development was at the level of a baby. Attempts to teach him to speak, write, and read resulted in surprising findings. The enigmatic young man was alert to the subtlest events in nature, and his logical virginity made him question some of the most immovable dogmas of the time. 

kasparhauser1

Perhaps because Hauser was, in strict terms, a newborn, his astonishment at the world was limitless. This only piqued the interest of the curious who gathered around. Imagine for a moment going into the outside world for the first time, and how valuable we might then find everything we normally take for granted. Germany’s most rational minds couldn’t understand the stupefaction that seized the mysterious young man when he saw but a reflection on the surface of the water. His mentor, the jurist Anselm Von Feuerbach, noted that once, before a starry sky, Kaspar Hauser had shuddered at its beauty. He understood, perhaps for the first time, that those who’d kept him locked up for so long had by no means been his benefactors.

The so-called “orphan of Europe,” he disappeared from the cold streets of Nuremberg in the same way he’d appeared: shrouded in mystery. He was brutally murdered on December 14, 1833. Trakl’s poem relives, in one of its final verses, the tragic event: “He saw the snow fall on bare branches, /

And in the murky doorway the assassin’s shadow. / Silvern sank the unborne’s head.” 

Images: 1) Public domain 2) Public domain