9/11 hoax fools all of Germany

Jesse Brown, a BoingBoing guest-blogger, is the host of TVO's Search Engine podcast.

Here's what DPA, Germany's national news wire reported this past September 11th 10th:

A terrorist attack occurred in the city of Bluewater, California. The suicide bombers were German rappers, the "Berlin Boys".

A half hour later DPA issued a correction: there had been no bombing. The "Berlin Boys" are not a rap group. The city of Bluewater does not exist.

It was all an elaborate publicity stunt to promote the satirical German film Short Cut to Hollywood. Filmmaker Jan Henrik Stahlberg and his team fooled their entire nation by creating fake websites and videos:

Here's the fake city of Bluewater (link).

Here's the fake local Bluewater news station, KVPK (link).

And here are the "Berlin Boys" with their club hit "Hass":

Wired has a detailed report (link).


  1. I’m a german and I have never heard of anyone involved or heard talk of this prank. I should have at least seen it on here a year ago.

  2. I hope this video is supposed to be funny and not gangsta serious because if it is supposed to be cool or something it is a total FAIL!

  3. The hoax … prompted a 1,000-word tome on the website of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Germany’s most respected newspaper

    And 1000 German words are, like, 9000 English words! Don’t their sentences get put together like “MassiveHoaxThatFooledEveryoneInGermany perpetrated by GroupOfHoaxersWhoFakedWebsitesAndPhoneNumbersAndArticlesOnWikipediaWhichByTheWayIsUnreliable…”

  4. I’m german and that is the first time I’m reading about this :-)
    And btw, the “k-VPK News” are so bad, they would not fool anyone with descent language skills, since these americans all have german accents :-D

  5. .

    Germans in blackface? What’s not to LOVE???!!!

    And who doesn’t appreciate a good 9/11 joke?

    Got any Holocaust material?

    Ah, well, as long as it’s all in the interest of whoring something. Gawd Bless Capitalism & All The Wannabees!

    Including me, and the Czars & Czarina’s, I mean the Grand Dragons & Imperial Wizards [rebranded for the South].

  6. Black face rappers? Really?
    Someone must have watched this and thought that it was a hoax. If that was a NYC subway those dudes woulda been kilt fo’ real!!
    I love me a good hoax though. The “Berlin Boys” need a promo deal or something.
    Maybe P.Diddy and Kanye can give ’em some rap lessons… then they can suck professionally.

  7. Yeah, I’m sure “all of Germany” has nothing better to do than check the DPA news feed constantly so they could be fooled in half an hour.

  8. Hey that’s funny stuff. Oddly enough American teabaggers decided to firebomb Dresden to advertise a new fried chicken franchise.

  9. A town called Bluewater in San Bernardino County? Not likely. Greywater? Maybe. Brownwater? Definitely. Bluewater? Never.

  10. I live in Germany, I listen to news radio for at least an hour a day, and I heard absolutely nothing about this. So, although it was a publicity stunt in poor taste, it looks to me as if more of my fellow US citizens are aware of it than Germans.

  11. @12 What are you talking about? This was a DPA story – they get right onto the frontpage of “respectacle” newspages.

    And please don’t quote me bloggers – there’s still quite a few of those who are still falling for the hoax that Focus wrote that “SIMs” is some kind of ego-shooter/violence-themed gamed. *)

    *) The German media/polito-term for games whose main theme is to act out violence is “Killerspiel”, but “Killer” doesn’t really have positive connotations in German. A better translation would probably MurderDeathKillGames. :-)

  12. haha the song is actually very crappy german and no good rap-stuff :)

    btw. they didn’t fool the whole nation. just some dudes at careless offices. at the online portal where i work we have a dpa-wire feed. we decided to dump the story cause it was not counter-checked and sounded very ridicoulous…but nice pr-move…

  13. 1st: Not many Germans could have heard about it, cause all of the German press is writing about a man killed by two 17- and 18-year-old boys in a train station – something many Germans think American news won’t write about cause it would happen in the US every five seconds.

    2nd: There are Germans who needed to visit boingboing for recognizing this “news”. This could be a compliment for boingboing or … well … no compliment for boingboing ;-)

    3rd: As long as we have the upcoming national election here in Germany, we don’t need any hoax to be fooled.

  14. the Bluewater, CA website is full of references to Arizona.

    “While passing through Bluewater we recommend that you visit the famous Bluewater bridge over the Colorado River. Downtown Bluewater offers a range of bars and restaurants. We are especially proud of our seafood from local waters! Nearby communities include Earp, with its Riverland Resort Park, Lake Havasu, also known as ‘Arizona’s Playground’ and Parker.”

  15. Hmm … nice headline if it were true.

    Except that I didn’t hear a single thing about this on the radio or in any media outlet that I follow (I don’t live in Frankfurt). No one I know here in Germany has heard anything about this either.

    The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung from September 10th has an article headed:

    Fragwürdige Werbung – Ein Selbstmordanschlag, der keiner war

    This translates to: “Questionable advertising – the suicide attack that wasn’t”. The article explains the hoax was tasteless promotion for a new short film.

    And you check the Süddeutsche Zeitung from the 10th of September, in fact the header and subheader read:

    9/11: Vermeintliche Bombenattacke – Ein Anschlag auf die Nerven. Fingierter Terror als Film-Promotion: Einen Tag vor dem 9/11-Jahrestag inszeniert eine deutsche PR-Agentur einen vermeintlichen Anschlag in den USA.

    This translates to: “Alleged 9/11 bombings – an attack on our nerves [play on words meaning, “very annoying”] Faked terror as film promotion: One day before the anniversary of 9/11, a German PR agency stages a faked terror attack in the USA.”

    So can you please ‘splain me which part of “all of Germany” was fooled here? The news outlets report it as a fake and no one around here has even heard of the incident.

    You would be better off titling this post: 9/11 Hoax Fools all of Germany … in my imagination.

    or: 9/11 Hoax Fools all of Germany … except the newspapers actually did report it as a fake and no one has heard of it.

  16. As someone whose spouse was standing on the front steps of the NY Supreme Court watching in horror when the first Tower fell, I just can’t tell you how funny this is to people like me. After all, all the phones went down, the internet crashed, and there were rumors the Supreme Court had been hit and the Washington Mall was on fire. There was only complete panic here in NY.

    By the way- she ran all the way from Foley Square to 42nd Street that day.

    Nothing like a good 9/11 joke, right folks?

  17. Well @Horncologne, what I meant to say is that every man, woman and child in Germany without exception was duped, bamboozled, and utterly hornswaggled by this hoax.

    Umm, hold on…

    Okay, what I meant to say is that a major German news wire fell for this and reported it as truth to the entire nation. But they figured it out a half hour later and though this has led to much discussion in the German press, some folks may have missed the whole thing (and are still okay people by me).

  18. The few of you who are bringing out your pitchforks and torches in moral outrage, chill out.

    There is humor to be found in just about every catastrophe. It’s one way human nature has come up with to deal with it.

    Don’t pillary people for that. No one’s making fun of your particular calamity story. Its certainly not intended to be personal.

  19. @ Talia:

    There’s a difference in sharing a 9/11 joke with friends (which I find distasteful, but whatever) and perpetrating a widespread hoax in which people are led to believe that there has been a massive catastrophe.

    If you can’t understand the difference then I daresay you could use a boost in the empathy department.

  20. While I find the hoax in itself funny, this was an internal German matter, so to speak. And truth be told: I did not think once about 9/11 until the late afternoon, when American websites started updating.

    Yes, it was a horrible attack, but sorry, it’s obviously much more important to Americans than to the rest of the world.

    I mean, Obama telling Poland “Hey, we don’t want to piss off Russia, so no rocket shield” on September 17th? Great timing…

  21. perpetrating a widespread hoax in which people are led to believe that there has been a massive catastrophe.

    I can appreciate that you find it unfunny.

    Can you appreciate that you sound not unlike the Mayor of Boston talking about the Mooninites kefluffle?

    If you took it seriously, that’s on you, not them.

  22. There was only complete panic here in NY.

    Many of us are waiting, patiently, for you to stop panicking over something that happened 8 years ago.

    You might never, but you ought to, or they win.

  23. Many of us are waiting, patiently, for you to stop panicking over something that happened 8 years ago.

    Trauma has its own timeline. Kindly don’t hector my fellow survivors of 9-11. You really don’t need to picture for us what a world in which the terrorists are “winning” looks like: we got a glimpse of it firsthand that day while the rest of you were watching it online and on TV. I mean, really.

    It’s really hard to see folks getting exercised over this hoax, and I appreciate your “let’s move on” intentions, but we survivors really, really hate being told what to do with our memories and our grief.

  24. mdh #41:

    Can you appreciate that you sound not unlike the Mayor of Boston talking about the Mooninites kefluffle?

    That’s not a very fair comparison. Firstly, I never suggested any legal action against these clowns for their tasteless prank. Secondly, no sane person could have mistaken the Mooninite ads as terrorist devices, or even as satirical representations of terrorist devices.

  25. #36
    … and if we’re allowed to make anti-semitic jokes they are allowed to dress in blackface? … oh wait, no, we have the dignity and sense not to make anti-semitic jokes. Said that the Germans cannot seem to give up racism.

  26. @ brainspore Secondly, no sane person could have mistaken the Mooninite ads as terrorist devices, or even as satirical representations of terrorist devices

    Which is pretty much my point. Reporter fail, not joker fail.

    @tdawwg – I also think trauma has its own timeline, it’s personal. And I’m not telling anyone what to do with their grief other than be social about it, and recognize when it is counterproductive to share it, when it is contextually more responsible to withhold. In this case, to that gentleman, I thought his attempt to use his personal grief to get a free pass on leaving a douchey comment was lame.

    Aside from that tdawwg, my personal belief is that you don’t know what hectoring is (aside being a mean word people say to you a lot).

  27. I, personally, don’t care much if they do wear blackface because I try not to get offended on behalf of others.

    I think it helps a lot when one’s moral outrage is both genuinely yours and not put out there just to demoralize everyone else within earshot.

  28. MDH, sure, you stick too to your own ideas about communal responsibility and contextual withholding: keep your scorn for 9-11 survivors, and your moral lessons over how we should act, to yourself, OK?

  29. Said [sic] that the Germans cannot seem to give up racism.

    Steady on. Blackface is only racist in a particular context (for you, may be it’s the only context you care about).

  30. Oooo, that was harsh. I just wanted to object to what I thought was your disrespect, and callousness. Whatever. Apologies: and point taken over the “hectoring.”

  31. .
    As a former denizen of 29 Palms, CA, I can attest, yes, Virginia, there is a Blue Water. For what it’s worth, Bluewater [2000: Pop. 265, 98.11% white; 84% over 45yrs old] is on the Colorado River, the boundary between Arizona & California, near the Parker Dam & Lake Havasu.

    The Colorado’s a great spot for recreatin’ yourself if you don’t mind the desert sun. It’s also the source of much of the water in the Southwest, including LA. Not very tasty by the time it gets there, which is why many Angelino’s have long had office-type water coolers in their homes. But that green spot on the map is another example of SoCal & Grapevine use of water. The surrounding area is like talcum powder. And rocks. Not rap.

  32. Al-Queda’s 9/11 effort pales in comparison to the subsequent terrorism by the US and UK governments…

    Al-Queda’s 9/11 effort pales in comparison to the prior and subsequent terrorism by the US and UK governments…

    There I fixed it for you.

  33. Again, it was for a German audience. Germans don’t even know what “blackface” is. I wouldn’t even assume that the German producers living in the US know what it is.

    I wonder, though, how many American recognise the various “We haff vays to make you talk” and “Jawohl, mein Fuhrer” jokes in movies, television and the net as jingoistic jokes.
    I wonder how many of the “blacckface protestors” turned off the TV or left the theatre when watching “Eurotrip”.

  34. @kimmo I believe the original website was a little more elaborate. They even gave” fake” telephone numbers, so journalists who called got connected to the hoaxters.

    I nice lesson in what is a reliable source and what isn’t.

    By the way, DPA admitted that they had been had – hard. That basic journalistic techniques had been ignored. New rules have been put in place, e.g. that there must be a 2nd source, especially for potentially big news.

    (Unfortunately, the wording was “If a story sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” They meant the “we have an exclusive breaking news, major scoop!”-kind, but bad wording nonetheless.

  35. Never heard or read about it (German). Not even on the page I visit 3 times a day and where the dpa-headlines are listed ^^

  36. .
    ‘ @ #55 posted by Antinous / Moderator, September 18, 2009 7:56 PM
    “As a former denizen of 29 Palms…”
    Good lord, how did you escape? ‘


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