The Enigmatic Story Of Kaspar Hauser: The Man Who Was Raised In A Dungeon
January 3, 2018|Sara Araujo
There was once a man who actually lived confined and deprived from everything that was in the outside world.
Can you imagine living inside a dungeon since you were born, not knowing anything about the world outside? Could you start from scratch if most of your life you were deprived from any kind of knowledge, prejudice, expectations, and demands? It's quite a terrifying scenario, am I right? Well, as shocking as it sounds, there was a German man in the nineteenth century who claimed to have lived in complete isolation for an important amount of his life. People were highly skeptical about his story, but as he spent more time trying to explain what he went through, the mystery and intrigue grew too. His experience suddenly became a popular legend, because as much as people really wanted to know what really happened, they never really knew who this person was.
The year was 1828, and the streets of Nuremberg seemed to be having one of those regular days where nothing interesting happened. All of a sudden, a mysterious man was found wandering on the streets, with a very weird look on his face and a note attached to his clothes. People approached him, only to find out that he could hardly communicate with them. Very confused by his appearance, they tried to find out more information about him on the note: "Von der Bäierischen Gränz, daß Orte ist unbenant / 1828" (“From the Bavarian border, the place is unnamed, 1828”). This odd letter also stated that he was interested in “becoming a cavalryman as his father was." This didn’t help solve the mystery, but it actually made it worse.
Luckily, they found out that the mysterious person has holding another note, and this one seemed to be from his mother. The piece of paper said that the man’s name was Kaspar. He ha been born on April 30, 1812 and his father, a cavalryman of the sixth regiment, was dead. Nobody claimed him as their relative; nevertheless, they couldn’t leave him there, in the middle of Nuremberg, alone and very confused. Since thought he was a vagabond, they sent him to a police station for further investigation. There, Kaspar spoke the only words he knew (a couple of prayers and commands), but still they couldn’t get useful information from him. Desperate and a little bit hopeless, Kaspar was left with a jailer, who took care of him for a while.
Luckily, a couple of months went by, and Hauser developed communications skills and was able to tell what happened to him. As far as he could remember, Kaspar had spent all his life confined; he had a straw bed and a wool blanket and a couple of wooden toys to keep him company. He never knew who took care of him, but he knew that someone was behind all this, since every morning he would wake up with bread and water next to his bed. From time to time, he recalls drinking water that “tasted funny” and made him sleep a lot. On those occasions, he would wake up with his hair and nails trimmed, wondering every single time who could’ve done it.
Kaspar also recalled that a couple of months before being released, a mysterious man taught him to say the words, “I want to be a cavalryman, as my father was” (although he didn’t understand what he was saying), and write his own name. He never got to see the man’s face. After learning these very specific tasks, the other thing he remembers is being brought to Nuremberg.
After listening to this particularly odd story, people started to theorize about Hauser's origins. Rumor has it that he was royalty, and someone was trying to get rid of him. Others said he was an impostor and that his story was just a way to justify that he had fled his home. One would think that this was the end of his intriguing story, but oddities kept happening. One year after he randomly appeared on the streets of Nuremberg, Kaspar returned home with very deep chest wounds and a note, which was written in mirror writing:
Hauser will be
able to tell you quite precisely how
I look and from where I am.
To save Hauser the effort,
I want to tell you myself from where
I come. _ _.
I come from from _ _ _
the Bavarian border _ _
On the river _ _ _ _ _
I will even
tell you the name: M. L. Ö.
Not long after this, Kaspar went missing. After sending a police force to look for him, he was found in a house cellar with a serious wound on his forehead. Kaspar tried to remember what happened, but he just recalled being attacked by a man who told him, “You still have to die before you leave the city of Nuremberg.” After this last injury, Hauser died. The epitaph on his tombstone described what his life had been up to his last days, “Here lies Kaspar Hauser, enigma of his time … mysterious his death.”
Maybe we'll never know the truth behind Kaspar's story and his origins. Nonetheless, his enigma keeps haunting us, not just for the mystery itself, but for the way it shows how society helps shape our personality and history. Now we can only wonder what would have happened with him if he had lived a long and happy life after returning to civilization.
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