For years, there have been reports of wild children raised in extraordinary circumstances, including a boy named Kaspar Hauser of Nuremberg, Germany.
The enigma of Kaspar Hauser involves the way he purportedly grew up - in a dark room by himself with few things to stimulate his mental and physical growth. His name was later attached to the condition Kaspar Hauser Syndrome, defined by a stunted appearance, decreased cognitive abilities, and limited vocabulary. Despite his initial setbacks, Kaspar managed to overcome his upbringing and develop exponentially a few years after his release from what was essentially solitary confinement.
Kaspar's miraculous recovery is not the norm for stories about feral children. While some saw the tale as inspiring, others believed it was too extraordinary to be true. Kaspar stood by his claims, yet detractors were quick to point out the multiple inconsistencies in his ever-changing story, and Kaspar was known for exaggerating and frequently lying about events. It appears he may have even (albeit accidentally) ended his own life.
A teenage boy calling himself Kaspar Hauser showed up out of the blue on May 26, 1828, in Nuremberg, Germany. A shoemaker discovered the young man wandering the streets, wearing ragged clothing and acting as though inebriated.
Kaspar claimed he had lived the majority of his life in a tiny, dark room by himself. His only distractions were wooden toys and an unidentified man who brought him food and water; this figure also reportedly taught him the alphabet and how to walk.
According to Kaspar, the room was six or seven feet long and four feet wide, the ceiling only five feet high. There were two small windows (which were kept shuttered) and a straw bed to sleep on, but for as long as he could remember, he was kept in almost complete darkness.
When Kaspar entered civilization for the first time, he was carrying two letters. They explained the boy had entered his captor's life as a child. For most of his imprisonment, Kaspar was banned from leaving his home, but his captor released him so he could join the military.
One letter was seemingly from a poor laborer who said he started taking care of Kaspar in 1812 when he was a baby. The other note was allegedly from his mother, who explained Kaspar's father, a cavalry officer, was deceased. The letters seemed to be fabricated, especially because it was later determined they were both written by the same person (possibly Kaspar himself.)
Kaspar also allegedly possessed a handkerchief with his initials on it, prayer beads, a key, and an envelope with gold dust inside; he also carried a manual titled The Art of Replacing Lost Time and Years Badly Spent.
Just five years after Kaspar allegedly came out of confinement, he passed from what many believed was a self-inflicted knifing gone wrong. And like many things with Kaspar, the circumstances surrounding the event were suspicious.
First, there was a purse left at the scene containing a handwritten note addressed to Kaspar that included personal information about his assailant.
Second, there was only one set of footprints in the snow. Many believe Kaspar attempted to harm himself, only to make a mistake and end up paying the ultimate price.
While authorities figured out what to do with young Kaspar, he allegedly lived in a jail cell under the protective eyes of Andreas Hiltel. The jailer observed Kaspar showed little emotion. He would usually just smile from inside his cell and exhibited no other expressions, such as anger, fear, or sadness.
Kaspar was reportedly content to sit in confinement by himself without needing anything to entertain him. He had a difficult time walking, and possessed a toddler's unsteady gait when he did manage to get on two feet. These details lent credibility to his story.