Monopoly for Ordinary People

Starting in 1941, an increasing number of British Airmen found themselves as POW’s of the Third Reich.  They needed a useful and accurate map, that showed the locations of ‘safe houses’ where a POW on-the-lam could go for food and shelter.  Paper maps made a lot of noise when you open and fold them, they wear out rapidly and, if they get wet, turn into mush. So MI6 asked the owner of John Waddington, Ltd.– the only silk printer in Great Britain–if he could print maps on silk.  He took it one step further.  His company also held the UK license for the popular American board game, Monopoly.  It could be included in a prisoner of war CARE package dispatched by the International Red Cross.

In an old inaccessible old workshop on the grounds of his company, 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 set up. The silk maps could be folded into such tiny dots that they would actually fit inside a Monopoly playing piece.

The clever workmen also included:

1. A playing token containing a small magnetic compass;

2. A two-part metal file that could easily be screwed together; and used in their escape;

3. Useful amounts of genuine high-denomination German, Italian, and French currency, hidden within the piles of Monopoly money!

Both British and American air crews were advised, before taking off on their missions, how to identify a ‘rigged’ Monopoly set — by means of a tiny red dot, located in the corner of the ‘Free Parking’ square.

Of the 35,000 Allied POWS who successfully escaped, an estimated one-third were aided in their flight by the rigged Monopoly games. Because 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.  Next time when you play your “get out of jail free card,” you will probably chuckle and recall how a simple board game was used to “confound the wise.”

God has been “confounding the wise” since time began.  In Matthew 11;25 Message paraphrase, Jesus prayed, “Thank You, Father… You concealed Your ways from sophisticates and know-it-alls, but spelled them out clearly to ordinary people.

(received from a friendly e-mail–author unknown)



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