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15th Sep 2021

This German city will give you $1.1m if you can prove it doesn’t exist

Danny Jones

The German city Bielefeld will pay you to prove it doesn't exist

The German city of Bielefeld definitely does exist… or does it?

We love a good old conspiracy theory, especially the funny ones – the jokier the better. That being said, The German city of Bielefeld has a pretty weird and wonderful one that involves whether they even exist.

Bielefeld is located in Ostwestfalen-Lippe, a region in the northeast part of North Rhine-Westphalia, a state within Germany. It has existed as a township since 1214, is the 18th largest city in the country and has a population of 341,730.

All the right parts are there – it has a rich history and even has a fairly well-known football team, Arminia Bielefeld, currently playing in the Bundesliga – so what on Earth even is this conspiracy and why are they willing to pay someone a cool million to prove it?

Roughly translated into English, the caption reads: “The time has come – the beginning of the end of the #BielefeldConspiracy. For everyone who sticks to the claim “Bielefeld does not exist”, there is an incentive to provide us with the ultimate proof 1 Million Euro !!!”

But what’s the joke? What is the Bielefeld conspiracy? Well, it goes back to 1994 when a computer scientist called Achim Held posted the claim on the computer forum, Usenet, where he regularly ridiculed conspiracy theories.

According to the theory, Bielefeld is merely an illusion created by a made-up, Illuminati-esque organization called ‘SIE’ (German for ‘THEY’), as well as claiming that they received help from Israeli intelligence agency and even aliens, who are supposedly using Bielefeld’s university to hide their spaceship.

Point being, it’s total nonsense but the people of Bielefeld have gotten plenty of laughs out of it as a result, so much so that they even use it to market the city. The aim is simple: prove the jokey theory to be true and you become a millionaire. The challenge was initially thrown down in 2019, but no one has managed to bag the prize just yet.

To ‘prove’ their theory, believers ask three questions: One: have you ever been to Bielefeld? Two: do you know anybody from Bielefeld? And three: do you know anyone who has been to Bielefeld?

They’ve got us there – do you know anyone from Bielefeld? According to Atlas Obscura, even Bielefeld’s mayor regularly has to try and fight the city’s corner.

So what do you think? Reckon you could ‘crack the case’? All you have to do provide evidence compelling enough to convince Bielefeld Marketing GmbH and you could become a millionaire.

Well, more accurately, £855,545.

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