Friday, March 5, 2010

★✩ Monopoly Map

[What an interesting story.....who knew?!]   
    (You'll never look at the game the same way again!)
    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
    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
    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
    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.
    It's always nice when you can play that 'Get Out of Jail' Free'
    I realize most of you are (probably) too young to have any
personal connection to WWII (Dec. '41 to Aug. '45), but this is still


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