03
May
10

Monopoly Rules: Fooling the Nazi Regime


I just received this via email – through a dozen hands, and thought we all should remember how amazing the ingenuity of people are under great crisis and trial.   I’ve seen many posts contributing to the discussion talking about details, but two that talked about these silk maps really existing, so you have to wonder.  But also know that the red cross did not give out the monopoly game.  Prisoners relied on those food parcels.

Starting  in 1941, an increasing number of British Airmen found  themselves as the involuntary guests of the Third Reich, and  the Crown was casting  about for ways and means to facilitate  their escape… Now obviously, one of the most helpful aids to that end is a useful and accurate map, one showing  not  only where stuff was, but also showing the locations of ‘safe  houses’ where a POW on-the-lam could go for food and  shelter.

Paper  maps had some real drawbacks — they make a lot of noise when you open and fold them, they wear out rapidly, and if they get  wet, they turn into  mush.

Someone  in MI-5 (similar to America ‘s OSS ) got the idea of printing  escape maps on silk. It’s durable, can be scrunched-up into tiny wads, and unfolded as many times as needed, and makes no  noise whatsoever.

At  that time, there was only one manufacturer in Great Britain  that  had perfected the technology of printing on silk, and  that was John Waddington, Ltd. When approached by the  government, the firm was only too happy to do its bit for the  war effort.    By pure coincidence, Waddington was also the U.K. Licensee for  the popular American board game, Monopoly. As it happened,  ‘games and  pastimes’ was a category of item qualified for  insertion into ‘ CARE  packages’, dispatched by the  International Red Cross to prisoners of war.

Under  the strictest of secrecy, in a securely guarded and inaccessible old workshop on the grounds of Waddington’s, a  group of sworn-to-secrecy employees began mass-producing  escape maps, keyed to each region of Germany or Italy where  Allied POW camps were regional system). When processed, these  maps could be folded into such tiny dots that they would  actually fit inside a Monopoly playing  piece. As long as they were at it, the clever workmen at Waddington’s  also managed to add:

1. A playing token, containing a small  magnetic compass 2. A two-part metal file that could easily  be screwed together 3. Useful amounts of genuine  high-denomination German, Italian, and French currency, hidden  within the piles of Monopoly money!

British  and American air crews were advised, before taking off on their first mission, how to identify a ‘rigged’ Monopoly set  — by means of a tiny red dot, one cleverly rigged to look  like an ordinary printing glitch, located in the corner of the  Free Parking square.

Of  the estimated 35,000 Allied POWS who successfully escaped, an  estimated one-third were aided in their flight by the rigged  Monopoly sets.. Everyone who did so was sworn to secrecy  indefinitely, since the British Government might want to use  this highly successful ruse in still another, future war.  The story wasn’t declassified until 2007, when the surviving craftsmen from Waddington’s, as well as the firm itself, were  finally honored in a public  ceremony.

Monopoly Piece: Money Bag

Original Writer unknown:  Contributor: Carol

Further Readinghttp://www.Snopes.com/military/monopoly.asp

Wall tiles and Free Parking:  escape and evasion maps of World War II, by Debbie Hall

Board games history: incredible but real stories about monopoly

Another post, but gives information about how the Soviets viewed the game

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