LONDON – An auction house in England plans to sell board games this week that German children played during World War II, winning points by destroying British cities and ships.
"We had propaganda in Britain during the war, too, but I have never found a comparable British toy that would glorify the idea of bombing German cities such as Dresden or Berlin," said historian and auctioneer Richard Westwood-Brookes.
He said in a telephone interview Monday that the rare Nazi-era board games come from an unidentified collector in Germany who was unable to sell them there because of German law. The games are to be sold on Thursday at Mullock's auctioneers in Ludlow, central England.
Westwood-Brookes said the auction house also plans to sell other artifacts from the Nazi era, including witness statements from Holocaust victims who were held in Nazi concentration camps.
In one of the 1940s games, battleships could travel to Britain and back, blowing up Allied ships and targets in the North Sea.
In a pinball-style game called Bombers Over England, German children scored 100 points by destroying London or the British submarine base at Scapa Flow, Scotland. Players also could win 100 points for hitting Calais, France (which was still French-controlled), and lower scores for British cities such as Aberdeen (60), Birmingham (50) and Liverpool (40). They lost points by hitting Nazi-controlled cities in Europe, such as Brussels and Amsterdam.
Another game involved players having a plane piece and a parachute piece. As the plane passed over the board, the participant dropped the parachutist off, aiming for indents with point values.
The auction also will include one anti-Nazi board game that apparently was made in Belgium by underground opposition forces during the war, Westwood-Brookes said.
In the game, players use a crude spring to launch wooden pieces onto a board with four sections with different point values. The two outer rings included the names of German cities. The third ring had cartoon images of top Nazi officials such as propaganda minister Joseph Goebbel. The inner ring -- with the highest score of 100 points -- showed Adolf Hitler.
The box for the game, called the V-Game, showed a picture of Hitler riding atop a German V-1 rocket and wearing a British royal crown.
Westwood-Brookes said such games are rare finds these days, in part because children and their families did not look after them.
"Also, after the war German children wouldn't have wanted to pretend they were bombing London after their own cities had been smashed apart," he said.
Each game was expected to be fetch $200-$400.