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German city offers 1 million euros in conspiracy contest

by Lynde Langdon
Posted 8/22/19, 11:04 am

Have you ever been to Bielefeld, Germany? Do you know someone who has? Those questions, posted in jest to an online chatroom in 1993, spawned one of the internet’s longest-running jokes about a real city that has embraced allegations of its non-existence. Bielefeld officials announced Wednesday they would award 1 million euros to anyone who could prove the city isn’t real.

What is the point of the joke? The author of the original post was making fun of internet conspiracy theories and attempting to show how easily they can spread. He obviously succeeded, since the “Bielefeld Conspiracy” is still making headlines 26 years later. The city even uses the fake news of its nothingness in its marketing campaigns. The real Bielefeld reportedly is home to more than 300,000 people, a university, and several multinational corporations, but I can’t vouch for that personally.

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Lynde Langdon

Lynde is a WORLD Digital’s managing editor and reports on popular and fine arts. She lives in Wichita, Kan., with her husband and two daughters. Follow Lynde on Twitter @lmlangdon.

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  • McMed
    Posted: Thu, 08/22/2019 07:16 pm

    That's funny! There's a breed of chickens named Bielfelder, I wonder if they came from this (non) town?