Last year, a 17 year old boy, who calls himself RAY, appeared at the reception of Berlin’s town hall and claimed he had been living in the woods for years. He speaks only English and his mind seemed crystal clear. He said he had been living in the woods for five years together with his father after his mother died in an car accident. Recently his father had died because he had injured himself when falling. Before the father died he told the boy to move North. A compass were found in the belongings of the boy as fresh clothes. He doesn’t have any clue about his own identity rather than the first names of his parents, “Doreen” and “Ryan” and his own birthday. He couldn’t tell in which forest he was living with his father, neither which country he originally comes from. A police search in Southern Brandenburg – where the police suspected the body of the dead father – didn’t lead to any result. There has now been six month of intensive investigation without any progress about the boy’s identity. Social workers from Berlin’s youth welfare department say it is an extreme unusual case. They have experience with made-up stories brought up by teenagers, but in all cases they tell the truth sooner or later. Berlin’s newspaper TAGESSPIEGEL raised an interesting question: even if they boy lives in a fantasy or finally a complex mental disturbance will be revealed, there must be somebody who misses him, siblings, friends, neighbors.
There are indeed very strange circumstances here. Even it becomes apparent that the boy invented the story, many questions will remain: there are huge forests in Germany but there is no wilderness in the middle of Europe like 600 years ago. And living for five years in a forest isn’t an easy thing. There are indeed people living in the forest even in our days. Last week a man died who lived for years in Berlin’s Grunewald, however he was with a tent and he was well known to the hunters and authorities. Living undetected for years in the woods seems very difficult and how did they survive the extreme last winters?
Whatever the result of the investigation might be, the forest has kept its mythical qualities in our days: in this case we read a story which sounds from another time. It seems that sometimes stories we usually would say are a thing of the past or folklore can suddenly erupt in our rational world of today.