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World War II's unsung hero

September 18, 2009 - Steve Murch
Anyone who has ever played the game Monopoly knows the length of time the game can take to play. Well, perhaps it's time to get past the time factor and appreciate the game for its biggest contribution.

On top of teaching the world how to be a ruthless tycoon, apparently Monopoly had a role in helping to win World War II. At the very least it saved the lives and freed countless British POWs. ABC News has a story (link at the right) about how the game was included in humanitarian aid given to captured British soldiers.

Unbeknownst to the Germans, the game had something you couldn't get by purchasing the game at a store — namely an escape kit that included a map. Those maps varied depending on the region the POWs were located. Also included in the kit were a compass, tools, and perhaps most importantly real bank notes mixed in with the play money.

The maps were printed on silk, which helped because they didn't rustle and make noise. The trick was finding a way to print on the silk. Once that was achieved the plan moved forward.

Unfortunately, none of the maps or the game are still around. They were all destroyed after the war. No THAT would something that would have been interesting to find in a WWII museum. The story might change the perception of the game in the eyes of some.

Anyone up for some Monopoly?


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