April Fool 'Aprilscherz' jokes are very much a German tradition. How it started is open to debate but a blog from Marcus at MyGermanCity.com. suggests some possible sources.
One of the oldest stories traces the holiday back to Augsburg in 1530. There, a group of lawmakers was supposed to be meeting on April 1st to discuss a number of financial projects. However, the meeting didn't happen. As a result, many speculators lost money, earning them the title of "April Fools."
According to another story, April Fool's Day was started in Darmstadt by Gabriel Hoffman. No one is sure of his motivation, but there is no doubt that the holiday has certainly caught on around the country. You can't even trust the news on April 1st. Many of the national and local papers put out a special April Fool's Day edition.
This year the Lokal Anzeiger really went to town. 'For the time being it (ie Bischofsheim) must go on without a mayor'. Reinhard Bersch is pictured with his coat on his shoulder leaving the town hall, never to return until next year's election. The caption concludes by stating that shortly after this farewell picture was taken the tree in the background had to be felled because of diseased roots.
The story goes that political factions wanted economies. They have three town halls and wanted ways to save money. Perhaps they could economise on bookeeping as no-one can understand the accounts anyway, or perhaps they could lose staff. They couldn't decide which jobs to cut so they drew lots to decide which person would lose his job. The mayor's name came out of the pot because a rival, perhaps wanting to be mayor, had written his name on all the tickets.
The mayor's lawyer asked if it can be right that an elected mayor can be ousted as a result of a lottery but unfortunately the constitutional court takes so long to make decisions that the mayors time in office will be up by the time a decision comes. The mayor decided, as a compromise, to step down and stand for election the next time around. Not paying his salary will save the town the 4.2m euros that they are missing.
If the experiment works then this could perhaps be a model for all other municipalities in the country....
There's a great deal more, much of it beyond the editor's German and you would need a good acquaintance with the political scene in Bischofsheim to appreciate the joke fully. One suspects also that the newspaper managed to make some telling points about politics in the town whilst spinning this tale.
This is the full article.