How Did the Board Game Monopoly Help in World War II?

In World War II, American POWs (prisoners of war) received maps, compasses and real money hidden in Monopoly games.

The idea belonged to John Waddington, who manufactured Monopoly board games in England, and the British Secret Service. Knowing that they could send POWs board games along with essential items like clothing, they used several fake charities to send Monopoly games to prisoner camps in Nazi occupied areas. They hid things like maps printed on silk cloth, compasses, and money inside the games. The manufacturers and the Secret Service also used various codes on the game boxes to make sure that the correct maps were sent to the correct areas. It wasn't only the American POWs who benefited from the service, but also POWs of other Allied Powers. It is believed quite a few POWs made their escape with the help of this assistance.

Board games weren't the only things the Allied powers used to send assistance to prisoners of war during World War II however. Special escape kits were also hidden in items like pens, cigarette tins and playing cards.

More about World War II:

  • World War II took place between the Axis Powers (Germany, Japan, Italy) and the Allied Powers (US, Great Britain, China, Soviet Union). It lasted from 1939 to 1945.

  • A little more than 16 million US troops fought in World War II and about 400,000 died.

  • The Soviet Union had the most casualties, with 7.5 million deaths in World War II, followed by Germany at 3.5 million and China at 2.2 million deaths.

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