The Ongoing Struggle for the Truth about the Child of Europe…

Until 1993 the majority of the few English-speaking people who knew the name Kaspar Hauser would most likely have done so because they had seen the art-house movie  Every Man For Himself and God Against All (British title: The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser) made by the famous and eccentric German director Werner Herzog in 1974. This was a psychological treatment of the story of the 15 year-old so-called ‘wild child’ found wandering the streets of Nuremberg on Whit Monday, 26th May 1828 and who was murdered in mysterious circumstances in December 1833. The film did not go into the historical details of the case, but rather, presented it as an example of the destruction of innocence by an uncomprehending,  hard-hearted and cruel world.

In 1993 another film was released in Germany, which was based on historical research that had been done since the 1970s, including research  by anthroposophist Johannes Mayer, who in 1988, had published his substantial  work Lord Stanhope – Gegenspieler Kaspar Hausers (‘Opponent of Kaspar Hauser’, Urachhaus, 1988, untranslated). This second film was Kaspar Hauser – Crime Against a Human Soul, directed by Peter Sehr . It won five major awards in Germany , including Gold Awards for Best Film (1994), Best Direction and Best Director, but unfortunately, was not distributed widely in the English-speaking world; even today the DVD has no English subtitles.[1] The dramatic and moving film, which included a brilliant performance by English actor Jeremy Clyde as the English secret agent Lord Stanhope, pulled no punches in its portrayal of the royal houses of Baden and Bavaria (the Hochberg and Wittelsbach families respectively) as being primarily responsible for the 12 year-long incarceration and eventual murder of Kaspar Hauser, who was clearly shown to have been the rightful Prince of Baden. Stanhope was portrayed as the infinitely cunning and deceitful agent he was, working in the service of the House of Baden (for Grand Duchess Sophie) and who sought to destroy Kaspar psychologically. Historical research has shown  that Earl Stanhope ‘s ostensible motive was money. Estrangement from his spendthrift father, who had in any case virtually ruined the family estate,  meant that he had no financial security of his own. It is known that he was financed in his work as a secret agent in the Kaspar Hauser affair by the Grand Duchess’s lover, the banker Moritz von Haber of Karlsruhe , the capital of Baden . In the end, as the 21 year-old Kaspar was increasingly able to remember and write down more about his origins, the growing danger of the exposure of the truth became too close for comfort for the House of Baden, and Stanhope’s method of psychological suppression through his instrument, the Ansbach teacher Johann Meyer, was dispensed with; Kaspar was fatally stabbed on 17th December and died three days later.

The success of Sehr’s film in Germany and the awards in 1994 did not happen in a vacuum. Since the murder of Kaspar Hauser in 1833 and the campaign of denigration of Kaspar’s memory instigated by Stanhope between 1833 and 1837, there have been thousands of books, articles and studies relating to the case. All this time, the House of Baden has remained silent about it and continues to do so. It was just two years, however, before a response of a kind appeared to the claims made in Peter Sehr’s film and the interest it re-enlivened in Germany about Kaspar Hauser.  In an article titled “The Loveliest Crime Thriller of All Time” in its issue No. 48, 25th Nov. 1996, and at a press conference two days earlier in Ansbach, the town where Kaspar was murdered, the German magazine Der Spiegel (circulation 1 million a week – Europe’s best-selling weekly) declared that DNA research which it had commissioned had finally solved the mystery that had perplexed Germans for over 150 years. Modern genetic science, it said, had proved once and for all that Kaspar Hauser was not the rightful Prince of Baden as many had suspected and that he was unconnected with the royal house of Baden ; the story of his royal origins was, in fact, untrue and Germans should stop believing in it. “The riddle is solved, the historical thriller which gave rise to so many fantasies has shown itself to be but a fairy story of German Romanticism….Now the myth has been demythologised – the touching, very heart-tugging, very German mysterium about a nobody who might have belonged to the ruling class”. [2]

The research was presented as solid scientific work, internationally verified, and based on the very latest genetic analytical techniques:

A suitable bloodstain from the underpants was divided and analysed independently by the Institute of Legal Medicine, University of Munich [led byWolfgang Eisenmenger ] and the Forensic Science Service Laboratory, Birmingham [led by John Bark ]. Mitochondrial DNA was sequenced from the bloodstain and from blood samples obtained from two living maternal relatives of Stephanie de Beauharnais [Kaspar's alleged mother]. The sequence from the bloodstained clothing differed from the sequence found in both reference blood samples at seven confirmed positions. This proves that the bloodstain does not originate from a son of Stephanie de Beauharnais . Thus, it is becoming clear that Kaspar Hauser was not the Prince of Baden. [3]

The news was quickly taken up by the media and by professional scientific bodies and spread around the Internet. The following year Princess Diana died, and in her case too, the media were soon keen to persuade the populace not to invest any emotional or intellectual interest in tawdry and hollow ‘conspiracy theories’. Scientific analysis of the blood of the driver of her car, Henri Paul, had shown ‘conclusively’ that he had been under the influence of ‘a cocktail of drink and drugs’ at the time of ‘the unfortunate accident’. Case closed; most of the media moved on. But eight years later, we are still waiting for the official British report into the ‘accident’, which is proving rather more intractable than the authorities had thought. People began to ask questions such as: “was the blood that was tested actually Henri Paul ‘s ?” Similarly, in Germany there were those that wondered: “where did the underpants come from” that carried the bloodstains analysed in the Spiegel study ? And why was it that little information was forthcoming about the initiation and financing of the study ?

The year 1998 saw a series of events related to the struggle around the issue of Kaspar Hauser . One of the leading anthroposophical Kaspar Hauser researchers, Peter Tradowsky, published a short book in 1998, Am I to be abused and trodden down again after all this time? – Kaspar Hauser in the Spiritual Struggle of the Present Day, (as yet untranslated) in which he argued that decades of the most solid historical work by Hermann Pies and others had shown beyond doubt that Kaspar Hauser was in fact the son of Grand Duchess Stephanie Beauharnais of Baden, Napoleon Bonaparte’s  adopted daughter; one dubious DNA test did not affect that. He also criticised those anthroposophists such as Michael Klussmann who were persuaded by such test results, which could obviously be challenged. Klussmann even expressed his doubts in an article in the anthroposophical magazine Das Goetheanum (No.38-39, 1996) : ‘The Riddle of the Birth, Mystery and Mystification of Kaspar Hauser’.

Besides Tradowsky’s book, that year 1998 saw the publication by the huge Springer corporation of the report of the study in  The International Journal of Legal Medicine. A response by the Kaspar Hauser researcher Dr Rudolf Biedermann of Offenbach came in his publication the same year of a detailed critique of the 1996 Spiegel test.[4] Dr Biedermann challenged the Spiegel editor Stefan Aust and the main 1996 researcher Dr. Eisenmenger to a debate on the scientific credentials of the test, but they refused. In 1998 a large biannual Kaspar Hauser festival began in Ansbach. Then in August 2002 came news via a documentary on the Franco-German TV channel ARTE of a second DNA test by   Prof. Dr. Bernd Brinkmann at the Institute for Forensic Medicine, the University of Münster. Six samples from Kaspar Hauser ‘s hair and body cells were analysed several times over, and a very different result was arrived at. The genetic code was found to be the same in all six samples. It was a 95% match (the same except for a single marker, position 16220 of mtDNA) with DNA from Astrid von Medinger, a descendant of Stephanie de Beauharnais. Dr.Brinkmann ‘s conclusion was that: “It would be absolutely unscientific and false at the present time to rule out Kaspar Hauser as  possible crown prince of Baden “.

Der Spiegel struck back in its issue of 21.12.2002 (No.52) with a short article “A Hairy Find”, claiming that Brinckmann’s research was “a farce” while its own 1996 study had been a “fundamental investigation” of the Kaspar Hauser riddle. Dr Eisenmenger , who conducted the 1996 study was quoted as saying: “The results (of Brinckmann) are contradictory and unhelpful”. Beyond these superficial sniping remarks Der Spiegel has to date published no further word on the matter. Unfortunately, both Dr. Brinckmann and the film company Caligari Film GmbH which made the 2002 documentary have, “for legal reasons”, declined to publish a report on the 2002 test. As a result, in the absence of formal counter-documentation, the Spiegel test of 1996 continues to carry weight. Very few references to the 2002 study can be found in English on the Internet, for example, compared with those to the 1996 study. Meanwhile, the House of Baden itself, as it has done for over a century, continues to remain absolutely silent. Nevertheless, as André Eisermann, who played the part of  Kaspar Hauser in the 1993 Peter Sehr film, wittily commented on the 1996 test:  ”It would appear that the underpants examined (die untersuchte Unterhose) are not related to the House of Baden.”

Messrs Weichhold, Bark, Korte, Eisenmenger, and Sullivan in “DNA analysis in the case of Kaspar Hauser” (International Journal of Legal Medicine, 1998, Volume 111, Issue 6, pp 287-291) claim in their abstract that they analysed clothes that were “most likely” (höchstwahrscheinlich) worn by Kaspar Hauser on the day he was stabbed. Their introduction speaks of a “suspected bloodstain” (vermutlichen Blutfleck) of Kaspar Hauser’s. There are also serious grounds for doubting the authenticity of the underpants as well as the conditions in which the tests were conducted.[5] Der Spiegel has also refused to comment on who financed the tests.

The 2001-02 period saw two other dramatic developments besides the second DNA test and the ARTE documentary. These came  in the form of a horse and a secret room, both of which were featured in the documentary. In 1924 a tiny cell had been discovered in Pilsach Castle near Nuremberg ; the cell corresponded to details of Kaspar’s description of the place where he had been incarcerated from 1816-1828. Kaspar’s only toys during those long years in the cell were a pair of wooden horses, which he constantly dressed and undressed with blue and red ribbons, and a wooden dog. In 1982 in that room in Pilsach new owners found a wooden horse. In December 2001 a secret room was discovered under the floor of a building in Beuggen Castle near Rheinfelden in southwest Germany , not far from Basel . This was the castle where the infant Kaspar Hauser was kept in 1815-16, when it had been the property of the House of Baden. On a wall of this room a primitive faded red drawing of a horse was found which was later dated to the early 19th century. When Kaspar was released in Nuremberg , he was found to have two notes on him, one of which was dated “October 1812″ and purported to be from his young mother. It included the words “When he is seventeen, take him to Nuremberg , to the Sixth Cavalry Regiment: his father belonged to it. I beg you to keep him until he is seventeen”. By this means his captors had presumably hoped Kaspar would disappear into the world and perhaps get himself killed in the military, but destiny moves in mysterious ways, and the tools employed by the servants of darkness often end up testifying against them and point to deeper meanings. In his cell Kaspar, who could barely communicate,  had been taught to write his name and to repeat the words: “I want to be a rider like my father.” The other word he kept repeating was “Ross” – ‘horse’ in the local dialect. For a long time afterwards “ross” was his favorite word, in fact for a while it was the focus of his sense of morality. His favourite colours were red and white: white horses he associated with all things beautiful and lively; black horses with all things fearful. He eventually learned to ride with amazing rapidity in only a few days, and his defender, the magistrate Anselm von Feuerbach, noted his remarkable agility as a horse rider. All this is not without interest in view of the traditional association of the horse with intelligence and nobility of spirit. Kaspar’s own intelligence and sense of individuality also grew with remarkable rapidity during the five years of his freedom.[6]

In August 2002 I visited the castle and the room at Beuggen and saw the drawing soon after they had been featured in the ARTE TV film. I noted that the building which included the secret room was built in 1666; the date is above the main door. I learned that during the time Kaspar Hauser was kept there, most local people stayed away from the castle owing to the fact that mass graves of some 3300 soldiers, who had died during the recent Napoleonic wars, had been dug nearby; the soldiers had mostly died during a typhus epidemic when the castle had been used as a hospital. In many places in the castle’s chapel were to be seen the skull and crossbones motif (Totenkopf) often associated with the Knights Templar; the castle had belonged to the Order of the Teutonic Knights since the 13th century. “Everything that was not nailed down was removed [after the war in 1815]. All the rooms were covered with blood, refuse, pus and  filthy straw. The smell of decay filled the whole house. And in this condition it remained for five years.”[7] This was the place where the infant Kaspar Hauser remained for almost two years with his keeperMadame Dalbonne until he was removed to Pilsach Castle outside Nuremberg and put in his solitary cell for another 12 years.

I attended the 4th Kaspar Hauser festival in Ansbach in 2004. It continued for two weeks and included lectures, poetry, dance, plays, films, exhibitions all dedicated to the theme of KasparHauser . It attracted people of all ages and various backgrounds. One of the most moving events was a presentation by teachers and children from a high school in the nearby town of Fürth. For a whole year, the teachers had worked the theme of Kaspar Hauser into all areas of the curriculum. Together with the pupils they produced a musical which was put on in the local opera house, and a DVD was made of it! From the spoken testimony of the teachers and children and from the DVD itself, part of which was shown at the event, one could see how involved all the children, from the youngest to the oldest, were in this production. Clearly, all the events surrounding Kaspar Hauser since the release of Peter Sehr’s film in 1993 and not least the Spiegel article and DNA test as well as the festival itself showed that not only was this 176 year-old theme continuing to be of enduring interest to the people of Germany but also that it was the focus of an ongoing intense spiritual struggle – a struggle for the truth.

Kaspar Hauser’s teacher and rescuer, Georg Friedrich Daumer, the man who knew him best, the man whom Rudolf Steiner described both as “the last Rosicrucian”[8] and as a man “who cannot be esteemed enough”[9], believed deeply in the integrity of Kaspar Hauser and wrote of Kaspar’s meaning for the German people: “The belief in the story is for the German people one that is their own; it is natural. The nation does not need to be ashamed of itself; it is a matter of its sense and feeling for truth and justice, and it will not easily  allow  itself to be torn from these”[10].  Daumer also wrote that “…should the people let themselves be converted to the heartless and spiritless criticism which would make this story into a fable and act with so much harshness, lying, falsification and malice, it would no longer be a truly German people and we on our part would not feel very proud of being German.”[11] Peter Tradowsky points out that the real significance of Daumer’s remarks here can only be understood in the light of his estimation of faith:

“What I understand by faith….is the acknowledgement of what is unusual even if it contradicts what is generally accepted; the devotion to the facts which have been presented and can only be denied by violence; the deep and inner relationship in which things stand to one another; the acknowledgement of things which are not immediately obvious, not to be understood materially and mechanically and yet are true and real, but which the common materialistic understanding feels so antagonistic towards that it seeks to get rid of them at all costs and by any conceivable means. On this faith rests not only all religion but also all culture in the full human sense of the word; it is not just at the command of an outward regulation and authority, but a demand of reason, of genuine impartial search for truth and science; and if this does not succeed, then the path which mankind treads – in spite of all the outward benefits of technology, industry and its materialistic-rational direction and activity – will lead to barbarism and the destruction of the whole of man’s being, to the loss of man’s higher dignity, to the suffocation of all the more delicate and noble feelings of the human heart and of all the deeper insight of the human spirit, to an unbearable impoverishment of man’s disposition and life and therefore to a general decay and dissolution, which may not be outwardly visible, but nonetheless is inwardly so.”[12]

As Tradowsky puts it, “The faith of the German nation in Kaspar Hauser and his destiny was what Daumer saw could provide the possibility of preserving its connection with the spirit. Daumer clearly saw that without this faith, it would lose the ground from under its feet and plunge into the abyss.”[13]  Exactly 100 years after the murder of Kaspar Hauser , the German nation did plunge into the abyss. But Daumer’s words quoted above about faith and truth surely do not only apply to the Germans. The case of Kaspar was taken up eagerly throughout Europe after his appearance; he soon became known as ‘the Child of Europe’ and the ongoing struggle in Germany for the truth about him is not just a struggle between Germans for their own higher spirit, it is a struggle for the spirit itself here in Europe. Lord Stanhope and the Foreign Office, Czar Alexander I, Prince Metternich, Chancellor of Austria and the Jesuits of Rome, soldiers, bankers, priests, policemen, journalists and scientists north, south, east and west – all were involved in the case of Kaspar Hauser at the time, as well as the people and princely houses of Germany.

And all were involved too in the catastrophe that engulfed them 100 years later as a result of the collective European failure to enable a people and its culture to find its place within the family of Europe . Instead, they have projected their own darkness, so much the result of their own rejection of the spirit, onto a single people, just as the Nazis did with the Jews. If anyone in Britain should doubt this, he or she only need go into any major bookshop in the land today and look for the section on ‘German history’. It will be found in most cases that of a history of at least 2000 years, only books about twelve of those years, 1933-45, will be on the shelves.

The participation of a Briton and a British university laboratory in the 1996 analysis and the reference to James Bond on the front cover of Der Spiegel (see illustration) point both to the continuing involvement of this country in the Kaspar Hauser story and to the continuing conundrum of the Anglo-German relationship. In 1848, had he lived as rightful Grand Duke of Baden, Kaspar would have been 36. It was Baden that led the 1848 revolutions in Germany against the old order. The absence of Kaspar’s influence at that decisive moment may well have been epoch-making. After the collapse of the democratic forces in 1848-9 Germany turned her back on the idealism that had been nurtured since Goethe’s time and chose to follow the materialistic English path to national greatness through economic, technological and military power: blood and iron; 14 years later Bismarck took the helm in Prussia. In 1948, a century after the failure of the 1848 German liberal revolution, the victorious Anglo-American allies forced the defeated Germans to write  a liberal constitution, and in 1992,  the year Peter Sehr was making his film, the British architect Norman Foster was given  the commission to build a glass dome to cap the German parliament (the Bundestag) in Berlin.

The Stanhopes and the Meyers, those who would continue the psychological war of denigration and destruction of the memory of Kaspar Hauser, are still with us and still active. They play their part, and they have not yet won. For the struggle around  Kaspar Hauser, the struggle for Kaspar Hauser, goes on. It is a struggle for the spirit of truth and for the truth of the spirit in each one of us.


[1] The film is subtitled in English on VHS videocassette and on US Region 1 DVD versions, available for order via the Web

[2] Nb the floppy disk in Kaspar’s hand. Under it is written: “Gene researchers solve a century-old riddle”. Behind him is his gravestone in Ansbach, which reads: Here lies Kaspar Hauser, enigma of his time, birth unknown, death a mystery 1833. In view of the roles of the Britons Lord Stanhope in Kaspar’s life and the Birmingham University analyst John Bark in the 1996 study, note also in the corner the reference to “Agent Mauss in the Case of the Affair of the German 007″

[3] From the abstract of the scientific report of the DNA analysis. =9826086&dopt=Abstract

[4] For Biedermann’s detailed comments “Offenbacher Fehlerprotokoll zur 1996er Münchener Gen-Analyse-Farce „Kaspar Hauser“,  see

[5] see:

[6] A number of poets, writers and songwriters, Including Rilke, have featured the image of Kaspar and his horses in their work, the most recent being the American singer-songwriter Suzanne Vega’s song “Wooden Horse (Caspar Hauser’s Song)”. See:


[8] Karl Heyer, Kaspar Hauser und das Schicksal Mitteleuropas im 19. Jahrhundert, (Basel: Perseus Verlag, 1999), p. 23

[9] Heyer, p.21

[10] Peter Tradowsky, Aufs neue nach so langer Frist Soll ich beschimpft, zertreten werden – Kaspar Hauser im  Geisteskampf der Gegenwart (Dornach: Verlag am Goetheanum, 1998) p.72

[11] Peter Tradowsky, Kaspar Hauser –  The Struggle for the Spirit (London: Temple Lodge, 1997) p.76

[12] Tradowsky, Kaspar Hauser, pp. 76-7

[13]  Tradowsky, Kaspar Hauser, p. 77