I was born in Bielefeld, a city located northwest of Germany. The hidden place is populated with more than 320,000 residents and homes a university, a castle, and a beautiful old town. However, growing up, I encountered many situations that provoked me to defend this city's existence and that I definitely live in that place.
According to believers of the Bielefeld Conspiracy, the city exists only as an illusion, possibly invented by the CIA. Sounds crazy, you say? Yes, it is, but that satirical running gag is known all over Germany.
Believers of the conspiracy ask non-believers these three questions: Have you ever been to Bielefeld? Do you know anybody from Bielefeld? Do you know anybody who has ever been to Bielefeld?
As my hometown is not a place you would describe as a tourist destination, most people the answer to these three questions is "no," supposedly proving the conspiracists' point.
Originated in 1994 on a German internet forum, the satire conspiracy theory was instantly contagious, which proclaimed that Bielefeld is a made up city. Achim Held is to blame, as he is responsible for starting the theory as a joke, not knowing what kind of hype he actually created. Conspiracy theorists claim that our city was invented by a fictional entity called "THEM." To make it even weirder, they believe that "THEY" had help from aliens disguising their spaceship as the University of Bielefeld.
Up to this day, 25 years later, it continues to spread. Can you believe that Bielefeld's mayor receives emails from across the country with questions surrounding the real existence of the city? And, it's true! Even German Chancellor Angela Merkel referred to the conspiracy in public while talking about a town hall meeting she had attended in Bielefeld, adding: "if it exists at all" and "I had the impression that I was there." Finally, German cinemas even showed a movie about the Bielefeld Conspiracy!
Being born and raised in this very city, I was often annoyed by people telling me this senseless joke and persisting that I am only imagining living in Bielefeld. It is incredible, though, how a small 25-year-old joke turned into such a conspiracy that is known all across Germany and beyond.