When Monopoly Went to War


You likely had one as a kid. You may still have one.

Long before we had video games and binge watching on Netflix to consume our day, we had the ubiquitous Monopoly board game.  As a kid, I escaped rainy days in the summer by playing Monopoly. (I was always the dog. Always.)

But I was not the only one Monopoly gave escape to.

The 1935 edition of Monopoly

The 1935 edition of Monopoly

Monopoly has a birthday this week, and Uncle Pennybags is turning 81. The game was first released on February 6, 1935, but just six years later, when World War II was in full gear, the game was pulled into military service by MI-5, the British secret service.

The Red Cross was allowed to distribute care packages to men in German POW camps, and one of the things allowed were “games and pastimes.” The one company that distributed Monopoly games in Great Britain also happened to be very good at printing on silk. So the government approached them about printing maps on silk. Compared to a typical paper map, a silk map is quite durable, makes no noise, and can be folded very tightly.

pow-monopolyA silk map could be wadded up small enough to fit inside a Monopoly token.

Another token included a small magnetic compass. The game hid parts of a metal file. And real German, Italian, and French currencies were sandwiched into the pile of fake Monopoly money.

These special Monopoly games had a red dot strategically placed in the “No Parking” space. Every airman was briefed in what to look for on the board should they be captured.

Did it work? It is estimated that 10-12,000 men were able to escape and get out of Germany using these Monopoly boards.

It gives a whole new meaning to the “Get out of jail free” card.

What looked ordinary offered deliverance and escape. The same can be said of us.

You may never have a large platform like a Franklin Graham or Beth Moore. You may feel quite ordinary. But God still uses you. You have the means and opportunities to point others to the way of escape: escape from sin, escape from failure, escape from hopelessness, and escape from death.

And escape to life in Christ.

Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong” (1 Cor. 1:26-27).

In God’s eyes, you are far from ordinary.

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