We have all played the game Monopoly when we were kids. This game was actually invented by a woman named Elizabeth Magie but gained popularity in the 1930s when it was released by the Parker Brothers. Monopoly was used for what neither of them could have ever thought or predicted. It played a major role in rescuing British prisoners in the second world war.
There were thousands of British prisoners in the German camps but they had one advantage the Germans did not know about.
The British prisoners were allowed to receive care packages from humanitarian groups through the German soldiers. The British intelligence made full use of this.
The British intelligence MI9 knew the packages would be thoroughly checked before being handed to the prisoners so they had to be extra careful and had to get extra creative to get their plan to succeed. They told the troops to look for Monopoly games in the care packages in case they ever got caught.
MI9 partnered with Monopoly manufacturer, Waddington’s in Britain, to have maps, small metal tools, magnetic compasses, and other supplies carefully hidden inside the games that were sent to the soldiers. Intelligence officer Clayton Hutton was behind the ingenious plan.
The maps were printed on pieces of silk so the soldiers could make them out clearly and the material wouldn’t crinkle. This also made them waterproof and allowed them to be stuffed into tiny compartments.
Around 35,000 British soldiers escaped the German camps and 20,000 of these prisoners used the tools found in Monopoly games as the means of their escape.
This was not the only game used to aid the prisoners of war. Maps, bank notes, and messages were also encoded into chess sets and decks of cards while the Germans never figured out what was going on.
This plan carried a lot of risks, and if the Germans suspected anything, it would have resulted in the loss of a lot of life. The next time you play monopoly, know the importance of “get out of jail free” card.
Here is a short documentary