Author Archives

Sabine Heinlein

The Restless Ghosts of Baiersdorf

Sabine Heinlein | Longreads | March 2017 | 25 minutes (6,248 words)

 

David Birnbaum got off the train in Baiersdorf. The Bavarian village 12 miles north of Nuremberg as the crow flies made a pleasant, pastoral impression. Green fields surrounded the railroad station, and men in leather trousers stood in front of traditional timbered houses.

In 2000, Birnbaum, a corporate business development manager, had come all the way from Rechovot, Israel. He had never heard of Baiersdorf until he looked at one of his family trees. His great-great-grandfather, the renowned numismatist Abraham Merzbacher, was born there in 1812, as was another famous relative, the mountaineer and explorer Gottfried Merzbacher. In the first half of the 19th century, the era in which the two men were born, almost one third of Baiersdorf’s 1,400 residents was Jewish.

David Birnbaum’s relatives had left Baiersdorf for various reasons and in all directions. Abraham Merzbacher went to study in Munich. He became a banker and collected one of the largest private Jewish libraries in the world. Gottfried Merzbacher caught wanderlust. He went to explore Central Asia’s Tian Shan mountains, indulging in nature’s “wondrously sweet, flowery alpine valleys… wild gorges… rock chains of unprecedented boldness.” Later, a glacial lake there was named after him. In his expedition “sketches” (available only in German) Merzbacher also wrote that in the magic of this “unworldly solitude (…) the struggles and passions caused by the contrast of people’s real or perceived interests appeared surreal, like phantoms.”

David Birnbaum knocked at the town hall in Baiersdorf’s neat main square. He expected to unearth information about his family by looking at 300- or 400-year-old tax records at the town’s archive, as he had done in other places in Germany. A clerk said that the archive was a complete mess; no way that he’d find anything there. Normally, the clerk disclosed, they don’t even let people go to the Jewish cemetery unescorted. But since Birnbaum had come all the way from Israel and only had a few hours, he could take the big iron key and go to the cemetery which was, unlike other Jewish cemeteries, located right in the center of town. Read more…

Truther Love

Sabine Heinlein | Longreads | November 2016 | 18 minutes (4,602 words)

 

She named her avatar DancingDark after a Lars von Trier movie and Björk, a beloved singer. DancingDark isn’t much of a showoff. “Super skinny. Nice, straight teeth,” she tells me. “My mom’s called me a radical, my dad’s called me a conspiracy theorist, none of my friends even know what I’m talking about.” DancingDark and I talk via Skype, but I can’t see her because she has taped-off the camera on her computer. She is pretty damn certain that the American government is spying on her. Whenever she mentions a certain country (which, for obvious reasons, she asked me not to name) her computer crashes. DancingDark is proud of her intellect. “I’m an intelligent being and I want to learn and be intellectual. That’s more of my foreplay than just being dirty online.”

Witty and personable, DancingDark’s frequent giggles easily turn into tears. As a Truther, the 37-year-old is committed to doubting “mainstream narratives.” When 9/11 happened, things just didn’t add up. There were suspicious delays in the media coverage and some dude down at the World Trade Center mumbled, “Bin Laden, Bin Laden…” Is it possible that the American government had staged the attack to legitimize its invasion of Iraq and take all their oil?

DancingDark is wise to other cons, too. When she thinks climate change, she thinks chemtrails. While the “mainstream media” claims that the crisscrossing lines left behind by planes in the sky are nothing more than contrails—streaks of frozen vapor produced during flight—DancingDark knows better. Global warming is fabricated by the government—“geoengineering above our heads.” Why? “Possibly to push carbon taxes.”

The only attractions in the village where DancingDark runs a one-woman aromatherapy cleaning business are the weekend rodeo and the local Tim Hortons. The small Canadian farming town also houses a mental institution. “Half of the people here can’t even read,” DancingDark says. The Fentanyl problem in town has recently been replaced by a meth problem, and when she passes someone in her village she says she can never be sure whether the person is a drug addict, a religious nut, a mental patient or a combination.

DancingDark has been lonely for what seems like an eternity. In pharmacology school, they were trying to teach her how cancer is cured with medication and surgery. “You just spend money on patients and you make them worse, which means more money,” she says. The system is set up for big corporations. “I couldn’t stomach it and just walked out.” It was the year 2000, and she was 20 then. One year later 9/11 happened, and DancingDark knew right away that “something fishy” was going on.

Until last year, DancingDark had at least one person whom she could talk to. “My friend could tell Illuminati symbolism right away and we could joke about it,” she says, referring to the purported secret global elite believed to control the thoughts of the credulous masses. When her friend hanged herself, there was nobody left whom she could trust fully. “I lost a lot of friends,” she tells me amidst tears.

After a period of depression and grief, she put herself out there again. An acquaintance told her about Awake Dating, a new, free dating website for Truthers and other conspiracy theorists, and DancingDark didn’t waste any time joining.

In many ways Awake Dating, which launched last April, is similar to other dating sites. It allows DancingDark to put up her photo, chat with others, and list her interests: 9/11 Truth, Not watching TV, Ancient Alien Theory, Social Conditioning, Megaliths, the New World Order and False Flags; the latter describes covert operations by the government  designed to mislead the masses and hide ulterior motives. (Truthers believe that 9/11, the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting and the terrorist attack at an airport in Brussels were staged—false flags.) In her personal statement DancingDark confesses that her “mainstream weakness” is Game of Thrones. “I’ve seen several UFOs 😮 I love to smoke weed but really don’t care for alcohol at all.” Her statement ends, “Oh and this is important!! I don’t want a golden shower!” Read more…