Kaspar Hauser
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Basic Information

Kaspar Hauser was an alleged feral child who appeared in 1828 in the Bavarian city of Nuremberg. His true identity is still unknown. On May 26, 1828, a shoemaker named Georg Weickmann was standing outside his house talking to his friend when he was approached by a boy wearing tattered clothes who appeared to be drunk. The young man asked for directions to New Gate Street and Weickmann agreed to take him there. When Weickmann tried to make conversation with him, the boy simply repeated the words. However, he did apparently say it was his first time in Nuremberg and he'd come from Regensburg. He also asked if the New Gate was "just built" and didn't understand that the name dated back from when the gate was actually new.

He also handed Weickmann the letter he was carrying, addressed to Captain Von Wessenig "of the Fourth Squadron of the Sixth Light Horse Regiment". Weickmann then realised that the young man needed to go to the New Gate, where the captain lived, instead of New Gate Street and continued physically supporting him the rest of the way.

At Von Wessenig's house, the boy spat out sausages and beer when he was offered them but happily ate black bread and water. He fell asleep in the stables. The letter he carried with him said its author was a day labourer who had cared for Hauser since he was a baby left on the writer's doorstep in 1812, and had given the boy a Christian upbringing. He had never let him out of his house since 1812 and also never told him the name of the house or the village so he wouldn't be able to find his way back. Nobody except the author and his family knew of the boy's existence. Because he had insisted on becoming a cavalryman like his father, the letter-writer had taken him to Neumark at night and left him with a man who had taken him to Nuremberg because it would be risky for the writer to come with Hauser. The letter ended with the note that the captain should hang Hauser in the chimney if he was unsuitable for the cavalry. There was also a second letter, allegedly from Hauser's mother, saying that he was baptised Kaspar and she wanted the labourer to bring him up until he was seventeen when he could travel to Nuremberg and join the cavalry as his dead father had done.

Because Kaspar couldn't answer any questions he was taken to the police station, where he wrote the name 'Kaspar Hauser'; it was assumed this was his name. Hauser was placed in the custody of Andreas Hiltel, warden of the jail in Nuremberg Castle's Luginsland Tower, who along with his family cared for Hauser for a month. According to Hiltel, Hauser preferred darkness to light, called all animals 'horse' and all people 'boy', and was unfamiliar with light, burning his hand on a candle. Hauser soon became a curiosity as crowds visited the tower to see him. His vocabulary (originally fifty words) expanded. Hauser told the following story about his life:

Before coming to Nuremberg, he lived in a dark room where the windows were permanently boarded up. The room was too small for him to stand up, so he spent most of his time sitting down. He slept in a straw bed and his pants had a hole cut in the seat so he could use a chamber pot without having to pull them down. He never saw another person. When he woke up he'd find a loaf of black bread on a plate in front of him with a jug of water. When he was asleep whoever gave him the bread and water cut his nails, changed his shirt, washed him and cut his hair. He had two wooden horses and a wooden dog to play with and he spent time decorating these with ribbons. One day, the man who kept him in the room told him they were going to meet his father, and showed him how to say "I wanna be a cavalryman like my father" and write "Kaspar Hauser". He had travelled over a mountain on the way to Nuremberg but didn't remember anything until he had appeared in the city square.

In July 1828, Kaspar Hauser moved in with Georg Friedrich Daumer, a teacher and "speculative philosopher" (spiritualist) who conducted experiments on Hauser which seemed to prove he had psychic powers. He was supposedly able to see clearly in the dark and at great distances in the daytime. He was able to distinguish metals without seeing them. He had an unusually good memory. Hauser, who seemed unintelligent and childlike when he first arrived, was even writing his autobiography. In 1829, Daumer's family discovered Hauser bleeding in their cellar. When he recovered, he told them he was sitting on the privy when he had been cut on the forehead by a hooded man wielding a knife who told him he must die before he left Nuremberg. The police searched for traces of this assailant. Despite witnesses claiming they had seen a black-clad man around Daumer's house, no trace of the attacker was found.

Hauser moved from benefactor to benefactor until 1833, when he died on December 17 in the town of Ansbach. He said that he'd been invited to the town's palace gardens by a worker to see the construction, and a man had asked him to meet him for some information about his mother. The man had then handed him a small purple pouch before stabbing him in the side. After Hauser's death, when this pouch was opened, it contained a note in mirror writing which read:

Hauser will be able to tell you who I am and where I come from.
To save him the effort, I will tell you myself
I come from on the Bavarian border,
By the river
I will even tell you my name.


1. Martin Kitchen, Kaspar Hauser: Europe's Child (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2001)

Game and Story Use

  • Kaspar Hauser was said to be sensitive to metals. Characters in a gaslight fantasy or steampunk game could be investigating suspected faerie activity and travel to Nuremberg to follow up on a possible lead, encountering him as an unknowing pawn in a pro- or anti-Napoleonic conspiracy (maybe he was part of a secret breeding program with the goal of using magic to control politics in the German Confederation?)
  • His mysterious past could be the basis of a PC's backstory (and be worked into a campaign plot).
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