German City Offers €1 Million to Anyone Who Can Prove It Doesn't Exist

Bielefeld has a population of 341,730. If it really exists, that is.
Chris Young

Bielefeld, an idyllic German city with beautiful architecture and magnificent church spires. The only problem? It doesn't exist.

At least that's according to a viral conspiracy theory that's been doing the rounds since the 90s. 

Now, the city has set a €1 million reward for anyone who proves that it does not exist, setting on course a tantalizing paradox: how does one prove to a non-existing city that it does not exist?


A non-existent city

Bielefeld - with a population of 341,730 - has welcomed conspiracy theorists to prove that it doesn't exist. Win €1 million. Here are the steps you have to follow:

Prove the city doesn't exist. Go to the city you just proved doesn't exist and present to the town hall the proof of its non-existence. 

The campaign is obviously extremely tongue in cheek and is aimed at poking a little fun - and perhaps raising a little awareness - at the way conspiracy theories are spreading online.

How did the conspiracies start?

As per the BBC, in 1994, a student called Achim Held jokingly posted the message "Bielefeld? There's no such thing" on the Usenet system - a forum where many conspiracy theories were spread on the early Internet.

Held's message became a running joke in Germany after it spread virally, thanks to the Internet boom.

The BBC translated the competition website's post. In it, the marketing company behind the campaign says entries can be submitted as pictures, videos or text.

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"The pearls of your wisdom must be incontrovertible," the organizers say. They also say they are "99.99% certain that we can refute any evidence."

The €1m prize money will be provided by Bielefeld Marketing's sponsors, in the improbable event that a winner is found. Knowing Facebook-commenting conspiracy theorists as we do, people will certainly try.

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