Shoemaker Weickmann took the boy to the house of Captain von Wessenig, where he would only repeat, "I want to be a cavalryman, as my father was," and "Horse! Horse!" Further demands elicited only tears, or the obstinate proclamation of "Don't know". He was taken to a police station, where he would write a name: Kaspar Hauser. He showed that he was familiar with money, could say some prayers, and read a bit, but he answered few questions, and his vocabulary appeared to be quite limited.
He claimed that he had found bread and water next to his bed each morning. Periodically the water would taste bitter, and had been apparently drugged: drinking this would cause him to sleep more heavily than usual, and when he had awakened his straw had been changed, and his hair and nails had been cut. Hauser claimed that the first human being he ever had had contact with had been a mysterious man who had visited him not long before his release, always taking great care not to reveal his face to him. This man, Hauser told, had taught him to write his name by leading his hand. After having learned to stand and to walk he had been brought next to Nuremberg. Furthermore, the stranger allegedly had taught him to say the phrase "I want to be a cavalryman, as my father was" (in Bavarian dialect), but Hauser claimed that he had not understood what these words meant.
This tale, still famous today, aroused great curiosity and made him an object of international attention. Rumors arose that he was of princely parentage, possibly of Baden origin, but there were also claims that he was an impostor. It is nowadays consensus among serious researchers that Hauser's account cannot possibly be true. As Psychiatrist Karl Leonhard explained: "If he had been living since childhood under the conditions he describes, he would not have developed beyond the condition of an idiot; indeed he would not have remained alive long. His tale is so full of absurdities that it is astonishing that it was ever believed and is even today still believed by many people.
On October 17, 1829, Hauser did not come to the midday meal, but was found bleeding from a cut wound on the forehead, in the cellar of Daumer's house. He asserted that while sitting on the privy he had been attacked and wounded by a hooded man who had also threatened him with the words: "You still have to die ere you leave the city of Nuremberg." Hauser said that by the voice he had recognized the man as the one who had brought him to Nuremberg. As was obvious from his blood trail, Hauser had at first fled to the first floor where his room was, but then instead of moving on to his caretakers, he had returned downstairs, and had climbed through a trap door into the cellar. Alarmed officials called for a police escort and transferred him to the care of Johann Biberbach, one of the municipal authorities. The alleged attack on Hauser also fueled rumors about his possible descent from the House of Baden. Hauser's critics are of the opinion that he had inflicted the wound on himself with a razor, which he then had brought back to his room before he betook himself to the cellar. He might have done so to arouse pity and thus escape chiding for a recent quarrel with Daumer, who had come to believe that the boy had a tendency to lie.
On April 3, 1830, a pistol shot went off in Hauser's room at the Biberbachs' house. His escort hurriedly entered the room and found him bleeding from a wound to the right side of his head. Hauser quickly revived and stated that he had climbed on a chair to get some books, the chair had fallen, and while trying to hold on to something he had accidentally torn down the pistol hanging on the wall, causing the shot to go off. There are doubts whether the (benign) wound had actually been caused by the shot, and some authors associate the incident with a preceding quarrel where, again, Hauser had been reproached for lying. In any case, the occurrence led the municipal authorities to come to another decision on Hauser, whose initially good relationship with the Biberbach family had soured. In May 1830, he was transferred to the house of Baron von Tucher, who later also complained about Hauser's exorbitant vanity and lies. Perhaps the sharpest judgment passed on Hauser was the one by Mrs. Biberbach, who commented on his "horrendous mendacity", his "art of dissimulation", and called him "full of vanity and spite".
A British nobleman, Lord Stanhope, took an interest in Hauser and gained custody of him late in 1831. He spent a great deal to attempt to clarify Hauser's origin. In particular he paid for two visits to Hungary, as Hauser seemed to remember some Hungarian words. Stanhope later declared that the complete failure of these inquiries had led him to doubt Hauser's credibility. In December 1831, he transferred Hauser to Ansbach, to the care of a schoolmaster named Johann Georg Meyer, and in January 1832 Stanhope left Hauser for good. The lord continued to pay for Hauser's living expenses, but never made good on his promise that he would take him to England. After Hauser's death, Stanhope published a book in which he presented all known evidence against Hauser, taking it as his duty "to confess in public that I have been deceived. Followers of Hauser suspect Stanhope of ulterior motives and connections to the House of Baden, but academic historiography defends him as a philanthropist, a pious man, and a seeker of truth.
Schoolmaster Meyer, strict and pedantic as he was, disliked Hauser's many excuses and apparent lies, and thus their relationship was quite strained. In late 1832, Hauser was given employment as a copier in the local law office. Still hoping that Stanhope would take him to England, he was much dissatisfied with his situation, which deteriorated further when his patron Anselm von Feuerbach died in May 1833. This certainly was a grievous loss to him. (Some authors, however, point out that Feuerbach had, by the end of his life, apparently stopped believing in Hauser; at least he had written a note, to be found in his legacy, which read: "Caspar Hauser is a smart scheming codger, a rogue, a good-for-nothing that ought to be killed.)
On December 9, 1833, Hauser had a serious argument with Meyer. Lord Stanhope was expected to visit Ansbach at Christmas, and Meyer said that he did not know how he would face him.
Five days later, on December 14, 1833, Hauser came home with a deep wound in his left breast. He said that he had been lured to the Ansbach Court Garden and that a stranger had stabbed him there while giving him a bag. When Policeman Herrlein searched the Court Garden he found a small violet purse containing a penciled note in "Spiegelschrift" (mirror writing). The message read, in German: "Hauser will be able to tell you quite precisely how I look and from where I am. To save Hauser the effort, I want to tell you myself from where I come _ _ . I come from from _ _ _ the Bavarian border _ _ On the river _ _ _ _ _ I even want to tell you the name: M. L. Ö." The wound in Hauser's chest proved to be fatal, and he died on December 17, 1833.
Inconsistencies in Hauser's account led the Ansbach court of enquiry to suspect that Hauser stabbed himself and invented a tale about being attacked. The note in the purse that was found in the Court Garden contained one spelling error and one grammatical error, both of which were typical for Hauser — who, on his deathbed, kept muttering incoherences about "writing with pencil." Although he had been very eager that the purse would be found, he did not ask for its contents. The note itself was folded in a specific triangular form — just the way Hauser used to fold his letters, according to Mrs. Meyer. Forensic doctors agreed that the wound could indeed be self-inflicted. Many authors believe that he had wounded himself in a bid to revive public interest in his story and to convince Stanhope to fulfill his promise to take him to England, but that he stabbed himself more deeply than he had planned.
Kaspar Hauser was buried in a country graveyard; his headstone reads, "Here lies Kaspar Hauser, riddle of his time. His birth was unknown, his death mysterious." A monument to him was later erected in the Court Garden which reads Hic occultus occulto occisus est: "Here a mysterious one was killed in a mysterious manner."
According to contemporary rumors – probably current as early as 1829 – Kaspar Hauser was the hereditary prince of Baden who was born on September 29, 1812, and who, according to known history, had died on October 16, 1812. It was alleged that this prince had been switched with a dying baby, and had subsequently surfaced 16 years later as Kaspar Hauser in Nuremberg. In this case, his parents would have been Karl, Grand Duke of Baden and Stéphanie de Beauharnais, cousin-by-marriage of Napoleon I of France. Because Karl had no male progeny, his successor was his uncle Ludwig who was later succeeded by his half-brother Leopold. Leopold's mother, the Countess von Hochberg, was the alleged culprit of the boy's captivity. The Countess was supposed to have disguised herself as a ghost, the "White Lady", when kidnapping the prince. Her motive evidently would have been to secure the succession for her sons. After Hauser's death, it was claimed further that he had been murdered, again because of his being the prince.
In 1876, Otto Mittelstädt presented overwhelming evidence against this theory, based on the official documents about the prince's emergency baptism, autopsy and burial. Andrew Lang summarizes the results in his Historical Mysteries: "It is true that the Grand Duchess was too ill to be permitted to see her dead baby, in 1812, but the baby's father, grandmother, and aunt, with the ten Court physicians, the nurses and others, must have seen it, in death, and it is too absurd to suppose, on no authority, that they were all parties to the White Lady's plot. Furthermore, letters of the Grand Duke's mother, published in 1951, give detailed accounts of the child's birth, illness and death, strongly corroborating the evidence against the alleged switch of babies.
In November 1996 the German magazine Der Spiegel reported an attempt to genetically match a blood sample from pants assumed to have been Kaspar Hauser's. This analysis was made in laboratories of Forensic Science Service in Birmingham and in the LMU Institute of Legal Medicine at the University of Munich. Comparisons with the members of the royal family proved that the blood examined could not possibly stem from the hereditary prince of Baden.
In 2002, the Institute for Forensic Medicine of the University of Münster analyzed hair and body cells from locks of hair and items of clothing that also belonged to Kaspar Hauser. The analysts took from the items used in the test six different DNA samples, all of which turned out to be identical. They differed substantially, however, from the blood sample examined in 1996, whose authenticity is therefore questionable. The new DNA samples were compared to a DNA segment of Astrid von Medinger, a descendant in the female line of the hereditary prince's mother, Stéphanie de Beauharnais. The sequences were not identical but the deviation observed is not large enough to exclude a relationship, as the difference could be caused by a mutation. (The mitochondrial DNA, which was examined, is passed only through the female line and thus cannot change except through mutation.) On the other hand, the relatively high agreement does by no means prove the alleged relationship, as the "Hauser samples" showed a pattern that is common among the German population. The House of Baden continues to be silent on the matter of Kaspar Hauser and does not allow any medical examination of the remains of Stéphanie de Beauharnais or of the child that has been buried as her son in the family vault at Pforzheim.
What follows, is a shortened version of the letter addressed to Captain von Wessenig:
The other, enclosed letter, which purported to be written by the boy's mother mentioned in the first letter, read as follows:
Kaspar Hauser inspired the French poet Paul Verlaine to write the poem Gaspard Hauser chante, published in his book Sagesse (1880). Kaspar Hauser is also referred to in Herman Melville's unifinished novella Billy Budd (begun in 1886).
Perhaps the most influential fictional treatment of Kasper Hauser was Jakob Wassermann's 1908 novel Caspar Hauser oder Die Trägheit des Herzens ("Caspar Hauser or the Inertia of the Heart"), which was largely responsible for its popularization in Germany.
In the mid-20th century, Kaspar Hauser was referred to in several works of science fiction or fantasy literature: Eric Frank Russell, in his 1943 novel Sinister Barrier, described Kaspar Hauser as a person who originated from a non-human laboratory. Fredric Brown, in his 1949 short story Come and Go Mad, offered another theory about "Casper Hauser". Robert A. Heinlein, in his 1963 Glory Road, referred to "Kaspar Hausers" as an analogue to persons popping in and out of metaphysical planes. Harlan Ellison, in his 1967 story The Prowler in the City at the Edge of the World, suggested that Hauser had been plucked out of time and later murdered by a female sadist named Juliette.
In 1967, the Austrian playwright Peter Handke published his play Kaspar.
Kaspar Hauser is also referred to in Katharine Neville's novel The Magic Circle (1998), in Steven Millhauser's short story Kaspar Hauser Speaks (published in The Knife Thrower and Other Stories, 1998) and Jeffrey Eugenides's novel Middlesex (2002) and Lucie Brock-Broido's poem Self-Portrait as Kaspar Hauser (published in Trouble in Mind, 2004). Canadian artist Diane Obomsawin tells the story of Kaspar Hauser in her 2007 graphic novel Kaspar.
In 1974, the German filmmaker Werner Herzog made Hauser's story into the film, Jeder für sich und Gott gegen alle ("Every Man for Himself and God Against All"). In English the film was either known by that translation, or by the title The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser.
In 1993, the German-Austrian co-production Kaspar Hauser – Verbrechen am Seelenleben eines Menschen ("Kaspar Hauser - Crimes against a man's soul"), directed by Peter Sehr, espoused the "Prince of Baden" theory.
In the American TV series Smallville, in the first season (2001) Clark Kent finds a boy who does not to remember who he was or where he came from, except his name. Chloe refers to the boy as a "modern day Kasper Hauser".
In the Japanese horror movie Marebito (2004), the protagonist Masuoka refers to a girl he found chained up underground as his "little Kaspar Hauser".
Musical references to Kaspar Hauser include:
Anthroposophists have written several books on Kaspar Hauser. One in particular, a detailed work by Peter Tradowsky, addresses the mysteries surrounding Kaspar Hauser's life from the anthroposophical point of view. His analysis delves into the occult significance of the individuality he sees as incarnated in Kaspar Hauser.
Another book on Kaspar Hauser is Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson's Lost Prince: The Unsolved Mystery of Kaspar Hauser (1996).