26 May: I Am Kaspar Hauser

When a ragged, peculiar-looking teenage boy was found wandering the streets of Nuremberg on 26th May, 1828, it triggered a centuries-long quest to discover who he was, why he had (apparently) been raised in captivity, and (if so) whom had done such a thing to him. His name was Kasper Hauser.

The newspapers went into overdrive, reporting every salacious detail: the boy refused to eat or drink anything apart from bread and water; he seemed astonished by mirrors and candles; he was overwhelmed by loud noises; he couldn’t hold metal; the odour of the graveyard sent him into fits… soon enough, he became one of the most famous people in all of Germany.


In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly attempt, in our usual ten minutes, to unpick whether this is a story of child abuse, a fantastical imagination, a deceptive manipulator, or all of the above; explain why some of Hauser’s astonishing achievements are arguably *too* astonishing to be entirely genuine; and recall how his death was just as mysterious as his life… 

Further Reading:

• ‘The Enduring 200-Year-Old Mystery Of Kaspar Hauser’ (All That’s Interesting, 2018): https://allthatsinteresting.com/kaspar-hauser

• ‘The enigma of Kaspar Hauser: Secret prince, hoaxer, or victim?’ (Sky HISTORY): https://www.history.co.uk/articles/he-s-a-real-wild-child-the-enigma-of-kaspar-hauser-secret-prince-hoaxer-or-victim

• ‘The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser – trailer’ (1974):