Monopoly’s Hidden Maps Help World War II POWs Escape

By | April 2, 2013
Here’s another reason to like Monopoly, the game.
Photo: World War II Monopoly

It’s a story that will forever change the way you think of the phrase, “Get Out of Jail Free.”

During World War II, as the number of British airmen held hostage behind enemy lines escalated, the country’s secret service enlisted an unlikely partner in the ongoing war effort: The board game Monopoly.

It was the perfect accomplice.

Included in the items the German army allowed humanitarian groups to distribute in care packages to imprisoned soldiers, the game was too innocent to raise suspicion. But it was the ideal size for a top-secret escape kit that could help spring British POWs from German war camps.

The British secret service conspired with the U.K. manufacturer to stuff a compass, small metal tools, such as files, and, most importantly, a map, into cut-out compartments in the Monopoly board itself.

“It was ingenious,” said Philip Orbanes, author of several books on Monopoly, including “The World’s Most Famous Game and How it Got That Way.” “The Monopoly box was big enough to not only hold the game but hide everything else they needed to get to POWs.”

British historians say it could have helped thousands of captured soldiers escape. …

Silk Maps Were Key Escape Kit Elements

Of all the tools in a military-grade escape kit, the most critical item was the map. But paper maps proved too fragile and cumbersome, said Debbie Hall, a cataloguer in the map room at the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford in Oxford, England.

t’s a story that will forever change the way you think of the phrase, “Get Out of Jail Free.”

During World War II, as the number of British airmen held hostage behind enemy lines escalated, the country’s secret service enlisted an unlikely partner in the ongoing war effort: The board game Monopoly.

It was the perfect accomplice.

Included in the items the German army allowed humanitarian groups to distribute in care packages to imprisoned soldiers, the game was too innocent to raise suspicion. But it was the ideal size for a top-secret escape kit that could help spring British POWs from German war camps.

The British secret service conspired with the U.K. manufacturer to stuff a compass, small metal tools, such as files, and, most importantly, a map, into cut-out compartments in the Monopoly board itself.

“It was ingenious,” said Philip Orbanes, author of several books on Monopoly, including “The World’s Most Famous Game and How it Got That Way.” “The Monopoly box was big enough to not only hold the game but hide everything else they needed to get to POWs.”

British historians say it could have helped thousands of captured soldiers escape.

So how did a simple board game end up in a position to help out one of the most powerful military forces on the planet? Silk and serendipity. …

via Monopoly’s Hidden Maps Help World War II POWs Escape – ABC News.

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