By Martin Kitchen
On Whit Monday 1828, an odd formative years, slightly capable of communicate and hardly ever capable of stroll seemed in Nuremberg. This new case of a "wild guy" excited frequent interest, and plenty of famous figures desired to try their pedagogical and scientific theories on any such promising topic. Who used to be he? was once he, as many claimed, the rightful inheritor to the Grand Duchy of Baden, or was once he easily an inventive fraud? This publication examines the various ramifications of this attention-grabbing case, and provides many insights into the social, political and highbrow lifetime of Biedermeier Germany.
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Extra info for Kaspar Hauser: Europe's Child
By this time the two had reached the police station at the New Gate. The desk clerk asked if the stranger had his journeyman’s identity papers, and Weickmann replied that he did not. The cobbler then took the young man to another guard room where he respectfully removed his hat in front of a corporal and two other men. He showed his letter to the corporal, whereupon the desk clerk showed him the way to a door and told him to enter. Weickmann understood this to mean that the police would look after the stranger and therefore went on his way.
Apart from ‘I dunno’ all he could say was ‘wanna go ’ome where I were’ and ‘I wanna be a cavalryman, a sixer like my father were’. At the same time he was able to write a few single letters in addition to signing his name. Hiltel let Kaspar play with his two children, aged 11 and 3, and this gave him obvious pleasure. In 1834 Hiltel made a further statement in court about his charge. It is clear that he soon grew fond of the boy and would have kept him under his care had it not been for the fact that he had eight children of his own to look after.
Although Kaspar Hauser emerged into a largely secular world morality was still a serious issue. Was the foundling a sweet innocent, a holy fool, a Parsifal? Or was he by nature mendacious, spiteful and fraudulent? Were his shortcomings the result of a faulty socialization since his release from his prison cell, or were they due to an essentially evil character? Which was at fault – the individual or society? Kaspar Hauser was not only the object of fierce debates, onto whom such notions were projected, he was also the pawn in a political game of republicans against legitimists, of radicals against conservatives.