Certain well-publicized conspiracy theories have become points of contention in the United States, but a persistent conspiracy theory that’s floated around Germany since 1993 just got a little more interesting. Like most conspiracy theories, this one is clearly not true. The purported hoax surrounds the city of Bielefeld, located about 200 miles (322 km) west of Berlin. After computer scientist Achim Held joked that he didn’t think Bielefeld really exists, the story took on a life of its own online. In 2019, in what seems like a keen bit of public relations for Germany’s 20th-largest city, Bielefeld offered one million euros ($1.1 million USD) to anyone who could use logic to irrefutably prove that it doesn’t exist.
The truth about Bielefeld:
- About 2,000 people took a stab at proving the obvious by the deadline in September 2019. They had been urged to “by all means be infinitely creative,” but they were also required to “deliver incontrovertible evidence.”
- Bielefeld was founded in the 15th century (that’s no joke, history books say) and you can get there via the Autobahn, or by train. Over 330,000 people live there -- although according to the conspiracy theory, they are simply "in on" the conspiracy.
- There have been claims that the CIA, the Mossad, and even aliens are behind the conspiracy. Of course, what the phenomenon has really done is make merciless fun of conspiracy theories and those who spread them.