“You can judge a society by how they treat their weakest members.”
- Mahatma Gandhi
Since Gandhi’s utterance, the above comment has also been applied by various interest groups to women, animals, disabled, the elderly and the homeless.
Let me add another: “You can judge a society by its board games.”
It makes sense that one of the West’s most popular games is Monopoly, very symbolic.
Whilst browing some other topics I came across a reference to a WW2 German board game called “Juden Raus!” (“Jews Out!), which led me to look into the topic a bit deeper.
Hitler very early on grasped the PR value of image, propaganda and publicity. The Nazi Party and the Third Reich relied heavily on indoctrination, of adults, of children, of populations and of individuals. The Third Reich had a Department of Propaganda with Joseph Goebbels as the Minister of Propaganda. Like Hitler, he was attuned to the value, potential and methodology of propaganda.
The Hitler Youth was an unsubtle means of indoctrinating young minds. Another was by the use of board games, which had the added benefit that they were played by adults and/or with adults.
Here are some of the board games.
Juden Raus! (1936)
Only two copies of the game are known to exist today. One copy is currently on display at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City, the second is in the collection of the Institute of Contemporary History and Wiener Library in London.
Juden Raus! was a board game that was created and distributed by Gunther & Co in 1936, one year after the Nuremburg Laws were enacted. Those laws defined who was Jewish according to ancestry, deprived Jews of German citizenship, prohibited marriage and sexual relations between Jews and Germans and denied Jews participation in German civic life.
Like Monopoly, the game consisted of a board, a pair of dice and figurines. Unlike Monopoly, there were also figurines with pointed Medieval Jewish hats, the players rolled dice to advance and the aim of the game was to gather as many of the Jewish figurines as possible to send them off to Palestine through the gates of a walled city. Written on the game board were the words “If you manage to see off 6 Jews, you’ve won a clear victory!”
The game was advertised as "entertaining, instructive and solidly constructed.”
Juden Raus! was not an official Nazi product. Instead, it was a commercial item from a private manufacturer. Were the Nazis pleased? Hardly! According to an SS publication, the game trivialised the serious Jewish problem that existed and hijacked the Nazi slogan Juden Raus for commercial gain. “Jews out! yes of course, but also rapidly out of the toy-boxes of our children, before they are led into the dreadful error that political problems are solved with the dice cup.”
Jagd auf Kohlenklau (1944)
That is not to say that there have not been Western board games that have been racist, sexist and a lot of other -ists as well. They will probably be the subject of a future Bytes. The difference between those games and the games above is that the others were not government sponsored or initiated with the intention of indoctrination according to government policy.