Did you hear the one about the German city that doesn't exist?
A German city is offering a reward of 1m (£900,000) to anyone who can prove it doesnt exist. The city of Bielefeld in north-western Germany launched the bizarre marketing stunt this week to mark the 25th anniversary of one of the countrys longest running jokes. The Bielefeld conspiracy theory is often held up as proof that the Germans do have a sense of humour after all. The joke, which originated in an early internet meme, is that the city doesnt exist and that there is a national conspiracy to pretend that it does. What makes the joke effective is that practically everyone in Germany plays along including Angela Merkel, who famously said after a visit to the city: So it does exist. Well, at least I had the impression I was there. Over the years the people of Bielefeld have not always taken kindly to being the butt of a national joke. But now it seems the city has decided to join in and turn the joke on its head. Even Angela Merkel has played along with the joke Credit: FABRIZIO BENSCH/REUTERS We thought the anniversary would be a nice occasion to put the Bielefeld conspiracy to bed, says an announcement on the citys website. That's why we call on all intellectual overachievers in this country to prove to us that Bielefeld really does not exist. The prize for the ultimate proof: 1m. The stunt is the work of the citys marketing company, which says its 99.9 per cent sure no one can come up with incontrovertible proof. But in the unlikely event that some one does manage to prove the city doesnt exist, it has assured taxpayers they wont have to foot the bill, which will be paid out of the companys coffers. The Bielefeld conspiracy theory originated in a 1994 internet post by Achim Held, a student who wrote: Bielefeld? That just doesnt exist. The joke hinges on the fact Bielefeld, a city of some 330,000 people, lies far from other urban centres in a relatively lightly populated corner of north-western Germany that is eccentrically named East Westphalia. Proponents of the conspiracy theory even maintain that Bielefeld railway station is a carefully staged set to fool passengers on trains that pass through. And they will doubtless claim the offer of a 1m prize is just another sham to pretend the city existsMore DescriptionImage URL
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