Saturday Scenes

Thu 31 May 2012

Kaspar the Wolf Child

Filed under: #satscene —— Sylvia @ 22:01

On the 26th of May in 1828, a 16-year-old boy arrived in Nuremburg with two letters: one from his caretaker stating that the boy had been locked away all his life and had never left the house, a second letter in Latin characters from his mother to the caretaker, saying that his name was Kaspar and that his father was dead. Both letters were written by the same hand. He claimed he’d lived his life in a room, never stepping out into the world until he was sent to Nuremberg with his letter, and had been taught only 9 key phrases with which to communicate, including “I want to be a cavalryman, as my father was”. The boy was taken in and widely cited as an example of a “wolf child” – children who were believed to have grown up feral without adult care – although he’d lived in a home and not in the wild. But there were many inconsistencies with his story.

Historical Mysteries by Andrew Lang: The Mystery of Kaspar Hauser

He could only eat bread and water: meat made him shudder, and Lord Stanhope says that this peculiarity did occur in the cases of some peasant soldiers. He had no sense of hearing, which means, perhaps, that he did not think of pretending to be amazed by the sound of church bells till he had been in prison for some days. Till then he had been deaf to their noise. This is Feuerbach’s story, but we shall see that it is contradicted by Kaspar himself, in writing. Thus the alleged facts may be explained without recourse even to a theory of intermittent deafness. Kaspar was no more deaf than blind. He ‘was all there,’ and though, ten days after his arrival, he denied that he had ever seen Weichmann, in ten days more his memory for faces was deemed extraordinary, and he minutely described all that, on May 26 and later, he had observed. Kaspar was taught to write by the gaoler’s little boy, though he could write when he came–in the same hand as the author of his mysterious letter. Though he had but half a dozen words on May 26, according to Feuerbach, by July 7 he had furnished Binder with his history–pretty quick work! Later in 1828 he was able to write that history himself. In 1829 he completed a work of autobiography.

The following year, when Kaspar was accused of lying, he was supposedly attacked, cut on the forehead. His movements were erratic and it is likely that he cut himself. Six months, again directly after an accusation, he was found with a gunshot wound on the side of his head: he said he’d knocked a pistol from the wall and it fired. Finally, in December of 1833, a week after a serious argument with his schoolmaster, Hauser came home bleeding from a stab wound in his chest. He died three days later. Many believed that this wound (and all the others) was self-inflicted in order to gain public sympathy, but on the final attempt the pressure required to stab through his thick coat led him to stab much more deeply than he intended.

Meanwhile, on Saturday the 26th of May in 2012, these feral photographs suddenly appeared in Twitter:

And here are the caretakers who brought them to us:

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Simply take a photo on a Saturday and tweet it to @SatScenes! Every week I retweet the Saturday Scenes and then collect them all for a special post here. We’d love to see yours.

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