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Secret Hitler game gains traction in Trump era

Esther J. Cepeda on

(I still have, and play on, the Monopoly set I got as a gift when I was a little kid.)

And indeed board games' popularity swelled such that, by the early 1970s, college students were holding Monopoly marathons and aspiring to national and world championships.

Even more captivating is the real-life connection between Monopoly sets and World War II.

"During World War II, the Allies used a variety of objects, including games, to smuggle goods in to prisoners of war. Radios were hidden in cribbage boards, silk maps in decks of playing cards, and compasses in buttons or in the lining of clothing," Pilon writes. "In America, military officers purchased Monopoly boards and steamed off their top layer to create a center cavity. Inside, they placed maps. The process was tricky -- some boards steamed open more easily than others -- and bypassed the direct involvement of Parker Brothers. Other game companies participated in the war effort. Milton Bradley turned its game-making factories into ones that manufactured missiles, submachine guns, rifles, and joints used in aircraft landing gear. The company also continued to manufacture some games for soldiers -- as their founder had done nearly a century earlier during the Civil War."

Some of this lore made Monopoly internationally representative of what was good about America and a positive symbol of capitalism, which is somewhat ironic given that the game was originally conceived as a critique of American greed. It also lifted the spirits of the members of the armed forces who could well use the diversion.

Alas, I'll have to wait until my Secret Hitler game ships and arrives in the mail so I can play with my family. But until then, Pilon has armed me with insider strategies for winning my next Monopoly match.

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Esther Cepeda's email address is estherjcepeda@washpost.com.

(c) 2017, Washington Post Writers Group

 

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