Friday, September 18, 2009

Enigmas of Ansbach

A Bavarian town famous for its werewolf and site of the death of the mysterious Kaspar Hauser has been hit by a school attack.

Kaspar Hauser

An 18-year-old student armed with an ax, knives and Molotov cocktails wounded eight fellow students and a teacher at his high school in the Bavarian town of Ansbach on Thursday, September 17, 2009, the German police said. The police arrived at the scene minutes after the rampage began, opening fire on the attacker, who was not identified, and arresting him.

Two children were seriously wounded, as was the 18-year-old attacker. Seven other children were slightly wounded.

Ralf Koch, a spokesman for the Bavarian police, said between 600 and 700 students attend the school, which includes grades seven through 13. The attacker was in the 13th grade.

Police said they received an emergency call at 8:35 a.m. (2:35 a.m. ET). When they got to the school, they immediately smelled smoke in the building, and they then encountered the attacker in a hallway.

The teenager had lobbed two Molotov cocktails into classrooms, one of which caused a fire, said Udo Dreher of the local police. He had also attacked several students with the ax and knives.

Police shot the teenager several times because he threatened the police officers, said Joachim Herrmann, the minister of the interior for the state of Bavaria, where Ansbach is located. The siege ended at 8:46 a.m.

The attacker suffered life-threatening wounds and is now being treated at a hospital.

(See here for Todd Campbell's straightforward take on this event.)

Apocalypse Today

Ansbach State Prosecutor Juergen Krach said the attacker remained hospitalized after he was shot by police during his arrest. Doctors plan to bring him out of a medically induced coma on Friday, September 18, 2009.

Krach said a search of the student's home turned up the calendar on which he had marked September 17, 2009, with the words "apocalypse today," and a handwritten will.

State Prosecutor Gudrun Lehnberger said the will was dated September 11, 2009. She added that the search turned up no threats against specific students or people. The attacker's motive remains unclear.

"I can confirm that the perpetrator was undergoing psychotherapeutic treatment," Lehnberger said. The teenager's name has not been released because of German privacy laws. Krach said police have questioned the student's parents.

The episode was the second attack at a German school in less than a year.

In March 2009, 17-year-old Tim Kretschmer fatally shot 12 people (mostly females) at his former school in the southwestern town of Winnenden, a town near Stuttgart, Germany. He fled the building and killed three more people before turning the gun on himself.

Ansbach: A place of strange wonders

The Wolf of Ansbach was a man-eating wolf that attacked and killed an unknown number of people in the Principality of Ansbach in 1685, then a part of the Holy Roman Empire. Initially a nuisance preying on livestock, the wolf soon began attacking women and children.

The citizens of Ansbach believed the animal to be a werewolf. After it was killed, a human mask was placed on the carcass. The wolf's body was then hanged from a gibbet for all to see until it underwent preservation for permanent display at a local museum.

Kaspar Hauser (30 April 1812? – 17 December 1833) was a mysterious "lost child" found in 19th century Germany famous for his claim to have grown up in the total isolation of a darkened cell, raised like a half-wild human, in the tradition of feral or wolf children. Hauser's stories, and his likewise mysterious death by stabbing, sparked much debate and controversy. Hauser lived in Ansbach from 1830 to 1833. He was murdered in the palace gardens there.

Hauser was buried in a country graveyard; his headstone reads, in Latin, "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."

Forteans have been interested in the mystery of Kaspar Hauser for some time. Fortean Society member and famed science fiction author Eric Frank Russell, in his 1943 novel Sinister Barrier, described Kaspar Hauser as a person who originated from a non-human laboratory. Robert A. Heinlein, in his 1963 Glory Road, referred to "Kaspar Hausers" as an analogue to persons popping in and out of metaphysical planes.

In the 1966 film Fahrenheit 451, the protagonist Guy Montag discreetly puts a copy of a book entitled Gaspard Hauser into his bag before the rest of the books in that residence are torched.

In the American TV series "Smallville," (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 lead character Masuoka refers to a girl he found chained up underground as his "little Kaspar Hauser."

The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser

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 has become known by that translation, or by the title The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser.

The bizarre nature of the movie is a metaphor for the human condition, the mystery of the Hauser melodrama, and, as it turns out, the strange things that still happen in Ansbach.


Anonymous said...

highly recommended film....everyone should see it.

great commentary and connections as usual loren.

David Stewart said...

Hi Loren
I first read of Kasper Hauser as a kid and it was one of the stories that ignited in me a lifelong fascination with mysteries of all sorts, - so thanks for alerting me to the existence of this movie. I will surely search it out.
Off Topic : I thought of you this morning while reading this morning's local paper. I f you look at page A5 at this link, you will see a positive story on the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club's search at Lake Cameron this summer.

Now immediately below this story is a sad story of an horrific knife attack on a small baby in Winnipeg on Sunday. Although not mentioned in this particular story, the incident is particularly troubling because this attack occurred only100 metres from from another frightening attack on a baby only 3 weeks ago!
The synchronistic position of the stories brought you to mind .

Lance M. Foster said...

Our high school German class saw it together soon after it was made. I remember a scene where he watches and comments on an apple rolling across the grass.

You can watch the movie in its entirety on YouTube at:

Adivinanzas said...

highly recommended film....everyone should see it.