I first read the bizarre story of Kasper Hauser back in high school. At the time, I had found it very interesting, but didn’t read any further about it. I never forgot it though, and it was always lurking in the back corners of my mind. Wikipedia recently had a link to the story on their home page, and I reacquainted myself with the sad, strange tale.
For those unfamiliar with the story, Kasper Hauser appeared mysteriously in Nürnberg in 1828. About 15 years old at the time, he could barely speak and possessed nothing other than the clothes he was wearing and a couple of cryptic letters that included his name and date of birth. He was taken in by the townspeople and eventually learned to communicate well enough to pass on his story. Apparently he had spent his entire life locked in a cell, living on bread and water, with practically no human interaction. Even those few people whom he did come in contact with – those who fed him, cut his hair, and taught him to write his name – took special pains that he would never see their faces. Hauser had not escaped from his prison, but had been released one day without any explanation. Once his story became well-known, he attracted a lot of attention from conspiracy-minded nobility. The case got even more interesting when a masked assailant tried to kill him. Kasper Hauser was sent into hiding in the town of Ansbach, where he was murdered by persons unknown in 1833. A memorial to the young victim was built on the site of his death, reading (in Latin) “Here an unknown was killed by an unknown”. The mysteries surrounding his identity, imprisonment, and murder have never (TtBoMK) been solved. More information, including photos of his grave and his memorial, is available on the web.
What particularly caught my attention when reading this story again was the reference to the memorial in Ansbach. I lived just outside of that town for two years, back when I was in grade school, and the photos of the memorial that I found on the web looked very familiar. I did a little bit of checking up, and sure enough, made a discovery. My parents own a painting that is a sort of collage, showing (in a geographically incorrect fashion) many of the famous buildings in Ansbach. This painting has been hung on the wall of every house we have lived in since 1978. I visited my parents last night, and, in the process, examined the painting. There it was, standing proudly near the lower right-hand corner. The Kasper Hauser Memorial.
Well I thought it was a pretty neat coincidence.