The “Landlord’s Game” versus “Monopoly

The antimonopolist history of the world’s most popular board game

I published this article in 2015 here:

https://auntyuta.com/2015/06/30/this-was-published-in-harpers-magazine-in-october-2012-about-the-landlords-game-versus-monopoly/

By Christopher Ketcham

The players at Table 25 fought first over the choice of pawns. Doug Herold, a forty-four-year-old real estate appraiser, settled on the car. The player across from him, a shark-eyed IT recruiter named Billy, opted for the ship and took a pull from a can of Coors. The shoe was taken by a goateed toxic-tort litigator named Eric, who periodically distracted himself from the game on a BlackBerry so that he “could get billable hours out of this.” The dog was taken by a doughy computer technician named Trevis, who had driven from Canton, Ohio, as a “good deed” to help the National Kidney Foundation, sponsor of the 25th Annual Corporate Monopoly Tournament, which is held each year in the lobby of the U.S. Steel Tower in downtown Pittsburgh. On hand for the event, which had attracted 112 players, divided into twenty-eight tables of four, were the Pittsburgh Steelers’ mascot, Steely McBeam, who hopped around the lobby grunting and huzzahing with a giant foam I beam under his arm; three referees dressed in stripes, with whistles around their necks; and a sleepy-looking man, attired in a long judges’ robe and carrying a two-foot-long oaken gavel, who was in fact a civil-court judge for Allegheny County donating his time “to make sure these people follow the rules.”

I had spoken the night before with Doug, who won the previous year’s tournament, about his strategy for victory. “Well, last year I managed to get Boardwalk and Park Place, and then everybody landed on them,” he explained, chalking his success up to dumb luck. “What you have to do,” he said, “is get a monopoly, any monopoly, as quickly as you can.” I asked him if he knew the secret history of the game. He confessed that he did not.

The official history of Monopoly, as told by Hasbro, which owns the brand, states that the board game was invented in 1933 by an unemployed steam-radiator repairman and part-time dog walker from Philadelphia named Charles Darrow. Darrow had dreamed up what he described as a real estate trading game whose property names were taken from Atlantic City, the resort town where he’d summered as a child. Patented in 1935 by Darrow and the corporate game maker Parker Brothers, Monopoly sold just over 2 million copies in its first two years of production, making Darrow a rich man and likely saving Parker Brothers from bankruptcy. It would go on to become the world’s best-selling proprietary board game. At least 1 billion people in 111 countries speaking forty-three languages have played it, with an estimated 6 billion little green houses manufactured to date. Monopoly boards have been created using the streets of almost every major American city; they’ve been branded around financiers (Berkshire Hathaway Monopoly), sports teams (Chicago Bears Monopoly), television shows (The Simpsons Monopoly), automobiles (Corvette Monopoly), and farm equipment (John Deere Monopoly).

The game’s true origins, however, go unmentioned in the official literature. Three decades before Darrow’s patent, in 1903, a Maryland actress named Lizzie Magie created a proto-Monopoly as a tool for teaching the philosophy of Henry George, a nineteenth-century writer who had popularized the notion that no single person could claim to “own” land. In his book Progress and Poverty (1879), George called private land ownership an “erroneous and destructive principle” and argued that land should be held in common, with members of society acting collectively as “the general landlord.”

The Landlord's Game, 1906

Magie called her invention The Landlord’s Game, and when it was released in 1906 it looked remarkably similar to what we know today as Monopoly. It featured a continuous track along each side of a square board; the track was divided into blocks, each marked with the name of a property, its purchase price, and its rental value. The game was played with dice and scrip cash, and players moved pawns around the track. It had railroads and public utilities—the Soakum Lighting System, the Slambang Trolley—and a “luxury tax” of $75. It also had Chance cards with quotes attributed to Thomas Jefferson (“The earth belongs in usufruct to the living”), John Ruskin (“It begins to be asked on many sides how the possessors of the land became possessed of it”), and Andrew Carnegie (“The greatest astonishment of my life was the discovery that the man who does the work is not the man who gets rich”). The game’s most expensive properties to buy, and those most remunerative to own, were New York City’s Broadway, Fifth Avenue, and Wall Street. In place of Monopoly’s “Go!” was a box marked “Labor Upon Mother Earth Produces Wages.” The Landlord Game’s chief entertainment was the same as in Monopoly: competitors were to be saddled with debt and ultimately reduced to financial ruin, and only one person, the supermonopolist, would stand tall in the end. The players could, however, vote to do something not officially allowed in Monopoly: cooperate. Under this alternative rule set, they would pay land rent not to a property’s title holder but into a common pot—the rent effectively socialized so that, as Magie later wrote, “Prosperity is achieved.”

For close to thirty years after Magie fashioned her first board on an old piece of pressed wood, The Landlord’s Game was played in various forms and under different names—“Monopoly,” “Finance,” “Auction.” It was especially popular among Quaker communities in Atlantic City and Philadelphia, as well as among economics professors and university students who’d taken an interest in socialism. Shared freely as an invention in the public domain, as much a part of the cultural commons as chess or checkers, The Landlord’s Game was, in effect, the property of anyone who learned how to play it.

Thousands of Monopoly tournaments are held in the United States each year: county tournaments, school tournaments, church tournaments, corporate tournaments, tournaments in basements, in boardrooms, in lunchrooms, in public libraries, and online. Every four or five years there are the big officiated tournaments—the U.S. Championship and the World Championship—sponsored by Hasbro, which hands out $20,580 pots to the winners of each. I missed the big tournaments—both were last held in 2009—and instead ended up in the lobby of U.S. Steel. I thought the venue fitting, as the corporation was the brainchild of supermonopolists Andrew Carnegie and J. P. Morgan, the latter being the inspiration for Monopoly’s top-hatted, monocled, tails-wearing mascot, Rich Uncle Pennybags.

The emcee called the lobby to order, shouting into his microphone, “You have ninety minutes. Let’s play Monopoly!” Immediately, the men at Table 25 began rolling dice and frantically buying property as they rounded the board. Doug snagged Pacific Avenue (an expensive investment at $300), two yellow parcels, and several slummier properties. Trevis’s portfolio included two railroads and Marvin Gardens, the most expensive property in the yellow group. Billy held the ultrachic Boardwalk ($400). Eric got Tennessee Avenue and St. James Place ($180 each). These last are among the properties most coveted by competitors, because they are relatively cheap and frequently landed on, along with the other properties that sit directly downboard of the jail, where odds are the players will spend a lot of time.

Sixteen minutes into the game Doug offered Billy a trade. (“The propensity to truck, barter, and exchange one thing for another,” writes Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations, “is common to all men, and to be found in no other race of animals.”) Land was already growing scarce, and as land becomes scarce in Monopoly—as in the real world—its market value rises, often beyond its nominal value. “This,” said Doug, holding up one of his yellow deeds, “for that,” pointing at one of Billy’s slum deeds, “plus three hundred bucks.”

Billy was unimpressed. “No, you give me three hundred bucks.”

“Give you three hundred bucks?”

“Cash is king!”

This in turn inspired Trevis and Eric to start haggling, with Billy and Doug interjecting to gum up the talks when their own interests were threatened. The table got loud. The parties offered, counteroffered, rejected all offers, sweetened the original offers, rejected the sweetened deals with greater aplomb. Doug heaved a great sigh. “We’re just gonna go around the board and around the board,” he said, “and collect our little money.”

“It’s gotta make sense for me,” said Trevis.

“This guy wants my left testicle,” Doug replied.

In what amounted to open conspiracy, Billy then told Eric that if they made a trade and each received a monopoly as a result, they’d share a “free ride”—no rent would be charged—when they landed on one another’s monopolies: a corrupt duopoly, in effect, targeting Doug and Trevis.

Doug shrugged as Eric pondered the deal, but Trevis was aghast. “You can’t do that—it’s against the rules.”

“Rules!” said Billy. “I’m gonna set my price.”

“Bullshit!”

“Ref!”

A referee, whistle around his neck, hurried over—the judge with the gavel had disappeared—to decide on the matter as the players barked at each other. “You can’t do that,” he said finally.

A few weeks before the tournament, I’d had a conversation with Richard Marinaccio, the 2009 U.S. national Monopoly champion. “Monopoly players around the kitchen table”—which is to say, most people—“think the game is all about accumulation,” he said. “You know, making a lot of money. But the real object is to bankrupt your opponents as quickly as possible. To have just enough so that everybody else has nothing.” In this view, Monopoly is not about unleashing creativity and innovation among many competing parties, nor is it about opening markets and expanding trade or creating wealth through hard work and enlightened self-interest, the virtues Adam Smith thought of as the invisible hands that would produce a dynamic and prosperous society. It’s about shutting down the marketplace. All the players have to do is sit on their land and wait for the suckers to roll the dice.

Smith described such monopolist rent-seekers, who in his day were typified by the landed gentry of England, as the great parasites in the capitalist order. They avoided productive labor, innovated nothing, created nothing—the land was already there—and made a great deal of money while bleeding those who had to pay rent. The initial phase of competition in Monopoly, the free-trade phase that happens to be the most exciting part of the game to watch, is really about ending free trade and nixing competition in order to replace it with rent-seeking.

Henry George was not formally trained in economics. At age sixteen, he shipped out of his native Philadelphia as a mast boy on the freighter Hindoo,bound for Australia and India, where he watched the crew threaten mutiny over their miserable working conditions. By the age of twenty, transplanted to California, he was working as a printer’s apprentice, a rice weigher, and a tramp farmworker. George was soon married and broke, caught up in a wave of unemployment on the West Coast, and by the winter of 1865 his pregnant wife was starving. “Don’t stop to wash the child,” the doctor told George upon the birth of a son that January. “Feed him.” Poverty turned his mind to economics, to the question of why poverty proliferated in a land of plentiful resources. Economics turned him to newspapers, where he imagined he might get paid for his ideas. Eventually, journalism brought him to live in New York City.

What puzzled George was that wherever he saw advanced means of production arise in the United States—wherever industry was built up and capital accumulated—more poor people could be found, and in more desperate conditions. It was for him a stunning paradox. “It is the riddle which the Sphinx of Fate puts to our civilization, and which not to answer is to be destroyed,” wrote George. “So long as all the increased wealth which modern progress brings goes but to build up great fortunes . . . progress is not real and cannot be permanent.” In 1879, he published the book that made him famous, Progress and Poverty: An Inquiry into the Cause of Industrial Depressions and of Increase of Want with Increase of Wealth—The Remedy, which provided a sweeping answer to the riddle: land monopoly was the reason progress brought greater poverty. As American civilization advanced, as populations grew and aggregated in and around cities, land became scarce, prices soared, and the majority who had to live and work on the land paid those prices to the minority who owned it. For the laboring classes, rent slavery was the result. “To see human beings in the most abject, the most helpless and hopeless condition,” George wrote, “you must go, not to the unfenced prairies and the log cabins of new clearings in the backwoods, where man singlehanded is commencing the struggle with nature, and land is yet worth nothing, but to the great cities where the ownership of a little patch of ground is a fortune.”

From those little patches, primarily in New York City, had arisen the dynasties of the American nouveau riche: the Astors, the Beekmans, the Phippses, the Stuyvesants, the Roosevelts, and, later, the Tishmans, the Rudins, the Roses, the Minskoffs, the Dursts, and the Fisher and Tisch brothers. According to George, the sequestering of valuable land assets in private hands was itself the product of a system of property “as artificial and as baseless as the divine right of kings.” “Historically, as ethically,” he wrote, “private property in land is robbery. . . . It has everywhere had its birth in war and conquest.” This was, in fact, the original sin of Western civilization:

In California our land titles go back to the Supreme Government of Mexico, who took from the Spanish King, who took from the Pope, when he by a stroke of the pen divided lands yet to be discovered between the Spanish or Portuguese—or if you please they rest upon conquest. In the eastern states they go back to treaties with Indians and grants from English kings; in Louisiana to the government of France; in Florida to the government of Spain; while in England they go back to the Norman conquerors. Everywhere, not to a right which obliges, but to a force which compels.

George noted that many premodern tribes recognized no right of land ownership; the tribesman’s property was the bow and arrow he built with his hands, not the land he hunted on. Nor was such a right recognized under the laws of the Old Testament, in which land was “treated as the gift of the Creator to his common creatures.” Moses had, after all, instituted the jubilee, under which land was redistributed every fifty years, and the debts incurred against land were canceled—a tradition ended by Roman rule. Everywhere George reviewed the annals of the precapitalist world, he saw the “struggle between this idea of equal rights to the soil and the tendency to monopolize it in individual possession.”

By the nineteenth century, however, the “superstition” of “absolute individual property in land,” represented by the complex array of state-sanctioned deeds and titles, had become fundamental to the American legal system. It could not be crushed—nor should it be, said George. Land seizure and nationalization, he believed, would lead to tyranny. “Let the individuals who now hold it still retain, if they want to, possession of what they are pleased to call their land.” George would not revoke the right to buy and sell property or to will land to one’s descendants. Instead he argued that society might leave landowners “the shell” of their holdings if it could “take the kernel.” As George wrote, “It is not necessary to confiscate land; it is only necessary to confiscate rent. . . . In this way the State may become the universal landlord without calling herself so.”

Rent was the key. In line with classical economics from the time of Adam Smith, George defined rent as the unearned income owners derived from the rising value of land, meaning it was distinct from the labor that went into property in the form of improvements, the construction of homes and offices and factories, and the cultivation of fields. A community’s productivity was the invisible hand that caused land values to increase. The cabin in the woods became a prize when a mine opened up across the field, a road linked the cabin to the mine, a country store opened to supply the miners, more homes were built, a railroad came in, a town was born. The land under the cabin derived its worth from what society built around it. Its increase in value therefore belonged to society, and George said this value was to be assessed and taxed at market rates. This “single tax” on land and natural resources offered a reform of capitalism—whose self-destruction George believed it was his task to prevent—that “open[ed] the way to a realization of the noble dreams of socialism.” [1]

Georgism, as it came to be known, was denounced by wealthy landowners as the most radically lunatic notion of its time, and the single tax as more insidious than all the writings of Karl Marx put together. The Catholic Church ruled George’s thought “worthy of condemnation.” Yet within five years of the publication of Progress and Poverty, hundreds of thousands of Americans would come to believe in the gospel of the single tax. In New York City, the populist priest Father Edward McGlynn referred to George simply as “this prophet . . . this messenger from God.” Mark Twain proselytized as a Georgist, as did the philosopher John Dewey. “It would require less than the fingers of the two hands,” wrote Dewey, “to enumerate those who, from Plato down, rank with Henry George among the world’s social philosophers.”

Leo Tolstoy proclaimed that George would “usher in an epoch.” “The method of solving the land problem has been elaborated by Henry George to such a degree of perfection that, under the existing State organization and compulsory taxation, it is impossible to invent any other better, more just, practical, and peaceful solution,” wrote Tolstoy. “The only thing that would pacify the people now is the introduction of the system of Henry George.”

In 1886, the United Labor Party, fresh from the battles and boycotts of the first May Day, nominated George as its candidate for mayor of New York. His campaign offered a radical vision for the time: wherever railroads, telegraphs, telephones, and gas, water, electric, and heating utilities could be operated more efficiently at scale, as “natural monopolies,” the public would own them; transit in New York would be made free for all; city government would be responsible for social services; he would end child labor and mandate an eight-hour workday. The land-value tax would pay for his programs.

Though not a single major newspaper endorsed him, clubs were founded in George’s name in twenty-four districts across the city. Members financed his campaign, each contributing twenty-five cents, and George, in between sixteen-hour days of speeches and rallies, sat at headquarters rolling coins for distribution to his workers. The coalition he built with the ULP was big-tent, crossing lines of class, ethnicity, and religion that had long divided New York. Three days before the election, his supporters—merchants, lawyers, doctors, tailors, plumbers, cigar makers, brassworkers, Germans, Irish, Russians, Poles, Italians, Jews—gathered by the tens of thousands in lower Manhattan. They carried banners reading HONEST LABOR AGAINST THIEVING LANDLORDS, and at Tompkins Square, in driving rain, they chanted, “Hi! Ho! The leeches must go!” But George was defeated, amid allegations that Tammany Hall had engineered massive voter fraud to ensure his loss.

George returned to journalism, went on the lecture circuit, wrote five more books, and dedicated himself to spreading the word of the single tax. He has been credited with inspiring a generation of progressive reformers. William Jennings Bryan said thatProgress and Poverty “ought to be read by every thinking man and woman.” Samuel Gompers, Jacob Riis, Upton Sinclair, and Ida Tarbell read him and sang his praises. But George showed little interest in reform beyond the single tax. A believer to the end in Adam Smith, he denounced the socialists and labor organizers who were his strongest supporters, and, as one critic wrote, came to lead single-tax supporters “of intolerably dogmatic and doctrinaire spirit.” He refused to accept that unearned income might be gleaned from investments other than land, and thus he was accused of failing to confront the rising power of finance capitalism, which made money off of the socially created value behind stocks and bonds. By the time of his death in 1897, when 100,000 New Yorkers lined up to view his body in state, George’s “great idea” was already, as Tolstoy would lament in 1908, on the long road to being forgotten.

About a month before the Pittsburgh tournament, an amateur Monopoly historian and game collector named Richard Biddle invited me to the village of Arden, Delaware, to have a look at the first Landlord’s Game ever fashioned. Arden had been founded as a Georgist experiment in 1900, four years after a failed attempt to implement the single-tax system across the state. It was envisioned as a self-sufficient utopia on 160 acres of woodland, and it soon attracted artists, poets, actors, anarchists, and freethinkers. Upton Sinclair had a cottage there, dubbed the Jungalow. Ardenites were barred from “owning” their plots, instead purchasing ninety-nine-year leases on cooperatively held land. It didn’t matter whether the residents built mansions or shacks: they were taxed only on the underlying value of the land, often at very high rates. This revenue paid for roads, parks, a commons, playgrounds, and utilities.

Lizzie Magie visited the village not long after its founding, and brought with her an oilcloth mock-up of her Landlord’s Game, which soon became a pastime among residents. While at Arden, she built a board for the game with the help of a resident carpenter. Biddle spoke solemnly of this alpha board; he estimated that it could be worth a million dollars.

We met at the village green and walked a few blocks, where we found the owner of the board, an eighty-year-old retired autoworker named Ronald Jarrell, standing outside his cottage looking nervous. Apprised of our visit, Jarrell had earlier in the day gone to his safe-deposit box at the local bank to retrieve the board. We entered his living room, where, amid a collection of antique china, jade statues, and old dolls, he laid out the prized artifact on his coffee table. Jarrell’s three yapping poodles made it difficult to talk.

“It was the summer of 1903,” he said. “A woman was down visiting here—”

“Lizzie Magie,” said Biddle.

“I don’t remember the name,” said Jarrell, “but she had an idea for a game.” He told us his stepgrandfather, a Georgist carpenter named Robert Woolery, had grown tired of playing checkers at the general store and needed new entertainment. Woolery looked over the plans drawn up by Magie on the oilcloth and immediately set about making the board.

Arden Board, 1904

Biddle held it up and nodded his head approvingly. It was hand-painted and hand-carved out of the backside of a reclaimed pressed-wood crokinole board, and it smelled like an old shoe.

I had earlier looked up Magie’s 1904 rule set, which she produced several months before she and Woolery completed the original board. Oddly, it contained no rule about forming monopolies out of the property groups, nor did it mention charging players higher fees after they’d built houses or hotels (constructions that also didn’t exist in Magie’s original rules). Nor was there anything about Henry George, land-value taxation, or the evil of rent. If the game was designed to teach Georgism, it seemed Magie hadn’t quite thought out the lesson. Two years later, when the game was officially published,the rules had evolved: the business principle of monopoly was fully established, as was the Georgist alternative of cooperation. Theories abound as to how the changes arose; one holds that someone in Arden had pushed The Landlord’s Game in the direction of Henry George, and also in the direction of the Monopoly we know today.

I asked Biddle about the discrepancy. “Ask the Monopoly monopolist,” he said.

“Excuse me?”

“Patrice McFarland. The Monopoly monopolist. She’d have all the answers because she is now the possessor of Lizzie Magie’s diaries. And a lot of other key stuff. But she isn’t talking.”

McFarland, I later learned, was a former exhibit specialist at the New York State Museum who in 1992 had received $25,000 from a Georgist organization, the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation, to produce a biography of Magie. In the ensuing years, Biddle said, she had acquired, along with Magie’s diaries, a trove of early Landlord’s Game prototypes handcrafted by players in Arden and elsewhere. But she had never produced her book, nor, according to Biddle, had she been willing to share the information or documents she’d amassed. “She’s a tough player,” he said. “I once bid against her on eBay for my 1939 Landlord’s Game. Bid almost $10,000.” (I called and emailed McFarland several times to ask about her alleged Monopoly monopolism, but she never responded.)

With us in Jarrell’s cottage was Mike Curtis, an Ardenite who twenty years earlier had played a round of Magie’s original 1906 Landlord’s Game (one of his opponents, as it happened, was Patrice McFarland). The Georgist rules by which Curtis had played were known as the Single Tax set, and they went beyond having players simply pay rent into Magie’s “Public Treasury.” They also aimed to teach the shared ownership of public goods. Under Single Tax rules, when the amount in the treasury reached fifty dollars, the player who owned the lighting utility was forced to sell it, and thereafter the utility cost no money to land on, as it was now publicly owned. This process repeated itself with the Slambang Trolley, then with the railroads, then with the Go to Jail space, which became a public college that, instead of sending players to jail, provided extra wages at the end of the game. After that, each fifty-dollar deposit in the treasury raised players’ wages by ten dollars. A “win” in Single Tax, which Magie later dubbed Prosperity Game, occurred when the player with the least amount of money had doubled his original capital. “The Landlord’s Game,” said Magie, “shows why our national housekeeping has gone wrong and Prosperity Game shows how to start it right and keep it going right.” Curtis admitted that he didn’t think much of the game, pronouncing it “kind of boring after a while.” [2]

In the summer of 1971, Ralph Anspach, a game inventor and retired economics professor who lives in San Francisco, emerged from a crushing Monopoly defeat in his living room—his eight-year-old son had bankrupted him—and found himself considering the salability of a board game that was explicitly antimonopolistic. “My game would have to start,” he wrote in a self-published memoir, The Billion Dollar Monopoly Swindle, “where Monopoly ends, when the board is full of monopolies.” The goal of play would be to break them up, with monopolists fighting off trustbusters. The game Anspach created, Anti-Monopoly, sold 200,000 copies in 1973, its first year of production, and was on pace to top 1 million sales by Christmas of 1974. Parker Brothers, at that time a subsidiary of General Mills, was not pleased. The company threatened to sue Anspach for trademark infringement. Instead, he preemptively sued Parker Brothers—“a sort of buckshot maneuver,” his lawyer called it—on the theory that he could show the company’s Monopoly trademark was invalid.

One of Anspach’s first discoveries as he built his case was the existence of The Landlord’s Game. But he could not explain how Magie’s invention, with its promotion of socialized land and shared wealth, had been transformed into the proprietary commodity that made billions of dollars for Parker Brothers. The key to the mystery, he learned, was a radical socialist professor of economics named Scott Nearing, who taught at the Wharton School of Finance from 1906 to 1915. Anspach spoke to Nearing in 1974, when Nearing was ninety-one years old. The professor said he had learned to play the game around 1910, while living in Arden, then taught it to his students at Wharton in order that they might learn, in his words, “the antisocial nature of monopoly,” and in particular “the wickedness of land monopoly.” The students apparently taught it to their friends. It was around this time that the game became known as “monopoly”—denoted in lowercase, like checkers, chess, or dominoes. The game spread widely over the next several years, to the hometowns of Nearing’s students and to other universities. It would slowly lose its antimonopolistic message, however, as players came to the conclusion that Magie’s vision of Georgist redistribution was not nearly as entertaining as ruining one another.

By 1913, monopoly had made its way to Altoona, Pennsylvania, and four years later it arrived in Philadelphia. The economist Rexford Tugwell, a future member of FDR’s “kitchen cabinet,” remembered having played it in 1915. By the 1920s, camp counselors in the Poconos were playing it, as were students at the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, Harvard, Haverford, Princeton, and Swarthmore. During the early stages of the Depression, the game reached Indianapolis, where a Quaker schoolteacher-in-training named Ruth Hoskins played it. Hoskins soon traveled to Atlantic City and taught the game to two fellow Quakers, Jesse and Eugene Raiford.

The brothers were so taken with the game that they worked to improve it. Along with other members of the Quaker community, they changed the pawns to household objects: tie clips, hairpins, keys, thimbles. They changed the names and property values to reflect those of Atlantic City. Baltic and Mediterranean Avenues, slums in the Raifords’ hometown, became slums on the board; Boardwalk and Park Place, the carrefour of chic, became the most expensive deeds to purchase. The rules related by Ruth Hoskins stipulated that properties were to be auctioned when players landed on them; Jesse Raiford instead set the prices on the board. (This change later made the game marketable to children, who had difficulty understanding how auctions worked.)

The Raifords taught the game to a friend of theirs, Charles Todd, who taught it to its putative inventor, Charles Darrow. Sometime in 1932, Darrow copied the layout of the board, the rules of play, the property names, the deed values, and the Chance cards, and made his own version of the game. His only innovation seems to have been to claim the mantle of sole inventor. He would soon be assumed into the pantheon of American heroes of commerce.

The irony was not lost on Anspach. Before being monopolized by a single person working in tandem with a corporation, Monopoly had in fact been “invented” by many people—not just Magie and the Raifords but also the unknown player who gave the game its moniker and the unsung Ardenite who had perhaps aided Magie in advancing its rules. The game that today stresses the ruthlessness of the individual and defines victory as the impoverishment of others was the product of communal labor.

None of the information Anspach uncovered helped his case when it went to trial in 1976. The widows of Eugene and Jesse Raiford testified, as did seven other witnesses who claimed to have played monopoly as many as twenty years before Darrow marketed his game. Anspach even put Robert Barton, the former president of Parker Brothers, on the stand. Barton, who was pivotal in helping Darrow secure a patent for his “invention,” admitted under oath that he was fully aware of the game’s history and that he knew Darrow had not in fact invented it. The judge was unmoved. He dismissed Anspach’s complaint, ordering all unsold copies of Anti-Monopoly to be “deliver[ed] up for destruction.” Seven thousand of the games were bulldozed into a garbage dump in rural Minnesota, where officials from Parker Brothers oversaw the interment. [3]

After forty minutes of play, the game at Table 25 had stalled—or, depending on your view, was going along just fine, because no one had a monopoly and no one could raise rents. So Billy paid rent to Eric, who paid about the same rent to Doug, who paid to Billy, who paid to Trevis, who paid to Eric, who made a bad roll and briefly went to jail. Then Doug Herold landed on his third lucrative green property, allowing him to form a monopoly. He had enough cash on hand to build several houses, and one after another the players fell afoul of his outrageous rent hikes. Billy and Trevis handed over several properties in lieu of cash, giving Doug three monopolies. “You see,” he said, turning to me, “I don’t have to deal with these knuckleheads anymore.” There was no further need for trading, no need for the dynamism of the marketplace. He had done the work, built the houses, invested in the properties. Now he did no work, took no risks, made no investments. And yet wealth moved inexorably in his direction. When after ninety minutes time was called, Doug oversaw five monopolies and a wad of $10,293 in cash, more than half the money in the Monopoly bank. He was declared not only the victor at Table 25, but the all-around winner of the U.S. Steel tournament for the second year in a row.

I’d invited Richard Biddle to the tournament, and as Doug had started his run Biddle wandered off to watch the other tables. Every so often I could see him peering over the shoulders of the players, a pinched look on his face. He did not like what had become of Lizzie Magie’s invention. “My brother taught me how to play Monopoly when I was five,” he had told me. “It was pivotal in helping me understand the importance of lying, cheating, and stealing.” I’d asked him to bring along his reproduction of The Landlord’s Game, which he carried in a backpack. Earlier in the evening he had gingerly taken it out to share with whomever he could waylay. “This is the real Monopoly,” Biddle would tell the players, before attempting a sort of CliffsNotes explanation of what Lizzie Magie had in mind. The players nodded politely, their smiles freezing into nervous masks. “That’s very nice, thank you so much,” they said, and then they walked away.


[1] University of Missouri–Kansas City economics professor Michael Hudson has noted that property tax today functions in exactly the opposite fashion from George’s proposed single tax. The Federal Reserve Board is responsible for assessing the total market value of real estate in the United States, Hudson says, yet it routinely produces “nonsensical undervaluations of land.” In fact, the FRB mostly ignores land itself; instead, it considers buildings and capital improvements as the chief markers of value, basing its calculations on the historical cost of original construction and the replacement cost of structures. Land value is an afterthought. The amateur in the real estate marketplace need not read Henry George to know this flies in the face of common sense, the mantra being “location, location, location,” not “replacement cost, replacement cost, replacement cost.” Hudson has conducted some of the few authoritative analyses of the FRB’s sleight of hand, the tax losses that result, and how it benefits the finance, insurance, and real estate sectors, which together have lobbied the FRB to maintain its approach.   [2] Curtis also didn’t think much of Arden’s Georgist experiment, saying it had degenerated into something of a failure. The leaseholders, he told me, had learned to game the system by electing land assessors who based their assessments on the town’s budget needs rather than the land’s real market value, and so they avoided paying taxes at appropriate rates. “To be frank,” he said, “the people in Arden today don’t give a damn about Henry George.”   [3] Anspach twice appealed the decision, and in 1982 a California appellate court ruled in his favor, concluding that Parker Brothers had in fact committed fraud in the Darrow patent, and was thus under threat of losing its trademark. General Mills Fun Group appealed to the Supreme Court in 1982, backed by amicus briefs from nearly every major American industry group, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the U.S. Trademark Association, the Bar Association of the District of Columbia, and the Committee on Trademarks of the Bar of the City of New York. The Court declined to hear the appeal. Anspach was nearly bankrupted, his house thrice mortgaged, his game business on the edge of ruin, his distributors unwilling to work with him because of a ten-year legal cloud. He was free, however, to continue selling Anti-Monopoly. In the past four years, he has sold 454,000 copies in European markets. Domestic sales, he says, have been comparatively small because Hasbro has used “its monopoly power to monopolize the Monopoly market” in the United States.

One thought on “This was published in HARPERS Magazine in October 2012 about the “Landlord’s Game” versus “Monopoly”:

stuartbramhallEdit

I loved playing Monopoly as a child. And the article is right. Learning to play monopoly educated me at an early age to the evils of monopoly capitalism.

The Rise of the Meritocracy

The Rise of the Meritocracy is a book by British sociologist and politician Michael Dunlop Young which was first published in 1958.[1] It describes a dystopian society in a future United Kingdom in which intelligence and merit have become the central tenet of society, replacing previous divisions of social class and creating a society stratified between a merited power-holding elite and a disenfranchised underclass of the less merited. The essay satirised the Tripartite System of education that was being practised at the time.[2] The book was rejected by the Fabian Society and then by 11 publishers before being accepted by Thames and Hudson.[3]

Meritocracy is the political philosophy in which political influence is assigned largely according to the intellectual talent and achievement of the individual. Michael Young coined the term,[1] formed by combining the Latin root “mereō” and Ancient Greek suffix “cracy”, in his essay to describe and ridicule such a society, the selective education system that was the Tripartite System, and the philosophy in general.[2]

The word was adopted into the English language with none of the negative connotations that Young intended it to have and was embraced by supporters of the philosophy. Young expressed his disappointment in the embrace of this word and philosophy by the Labour Party under Tony Blair in The Guardian in an article in 2001, where he states:It is good sense to appoint individual people to jobs on their merit. It is the opposite when those who are judged to have merit of a particular kind harden into a new social class without room in it for others.[2]

Journalist and writer Paul Barker points out that “irony is a dangerous freight to carry” and suggests that in the 1960s and ’70s it was read “as a simple attack on the rampant meritocrats”, whereas he suggests it should be read “as sociological analysis in the form of satire”.[4]

Michael Dunlop Young, Baron Young of Dartington

British lawyer, sociologist and reformer

WRITTEN BYThe Editors of Encyclopaedia BritannicaEncyclopaedia Britannica’s editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree….See Article HistoryAlternative Title: Michael Young

Michael Dunlop Young, Baron Young of Dartington, British lawyer, sociologist, and social reformer (born Aug. 9, 1915, Manchester, Eng.—died Jan. 14, 2002, London, Eng.), was best known for having written the Labour Party’s 1945 social-welfare manifesto and for having coined the pejorative term meritocracy (in his 1958 satire The Rise of the Meritocracy, 1870–2033) to denounce the political and economic elite that he alleged used their own academic test-based success as justification for their treatment of the economic underclass, who did not have access to equivalent education. Young also founded (1956) the Consumers’ Association, established the forerunner of the Open University (launched in 1964), and wrote influential sociological treatises, notably Family and Kinship in East London (1957; with Peter Willmott). He was created a baron in 1978.

How a family cluster in Frankston spread to Chadstone and Kilmore.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-10-14/chadstone-kilmore-coronavirus-outbreak-lessons-for-victoria/12763042

What the handling of the Chadstone coronavirus cluster reveals about Victoria’s contact tracing

By Ben KnightPosted Yesterday at 6:12am, updated Yesterday at 7:53pmSpace to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume. 02:3302:33

On September 21, Daniel Andrews told Victorians: “This is not just a good day. It’s a great day.”

Many agreed. The sun was out, and for the second day running, the state’s new case number had dropped to single figures.

What Victorians didn’t know was that an outbreak that would derail their hopes of emerging from lockdown was beginning its spread.

The outbreak now exceeds 40 cases, spreading from Chadstone to Kilmore and onto the northern Victorian city of Shepparton.

An ABC analysis of the contact tracing effort has identified potential missed opportunities to stop the spread, and a massive change in approach from the beginning of the outbreak to the end.

Four-day delay in discovering link between cleaner and Butcher’s Club

Health authorities say the Chadstone outbreak began in Frankston, with a cleaner who was living with family members who were sick.

After attending The Butcher Club at Chadstone for work between September 21-23, she called the business on Thursday, September 24 to tell them she’d been told by police to stay home.

Two days later on Saturday, she tested positive to coronavirus.LIVE UPDATES: Read our blog for the latest news on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Contact tracers are trained to ask where people work, and are on particular alert for high-risk jobs like cleaning.

However, the cleaner did not tell contact tracers where she worked, so for four days The Butcher Club was not officially informed of the risk.

A staff member at the shop fell ill and returned a positive test on Monday, September 28.

Contact tracers only discovered the cleaner had worked at The Butcher Club while infectious after the staff member got sick and the shop shared their staffing information with DHHS.

Meat is on display in a butcher shop inside a shopping centre.
The outbreaks at Chadstone and Kilmore are now linked to more than 40 cases.(ABC News)

Kilmore traveller unaware they had become linked to outbreak

Two days after the manager of The Butcher Club tested positive, the virus spread from there to Kilmore, when a person sharing a house with another Butcher Club employee drove into country Victoria for work.

The person stopped at a cafe for breakfast, infecting a staff member, and sparking a new cluster that has now grown to at least six cases.

The day before, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) had listed The Butcher Club as a high risk location.

But for some reason, the person living with a Butcher Club employee didn’t get the message.

Read more about coronavirus:

‘Contacts of contacts’ approach phased in

The contact tracing and testing program in this outbreak has been markedly different from its beginnings in Chadstone to the current approach in Kilmore.

In Kilmore, the net has been cast far wider than usual. For the first time, everyone who was at the affected site has been told to isolate and get tested, along with their immediate close contacts.

To date, nearly 1,000 people in Kilmore have been tested, and nearly 400 are in isolation. The current number of cases is six.

DHHS says the Kilmore approach is being “phased in”, and is also now being used for new cases related to the Chadstone cluster.

Active COVID-19 cases in Victorian postcodes

+LeafletActive cases0≥100Last updated: Tuesday Oct 13th 2020.

When asked on Tuesday why the approach taken in Kilmore was not adopted for the Chadstone outbreak, Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said the scale of asymptomatic testing required at Chadstone would not have represented “value for money”.

“We’re talking about a number of shops in Chadstone where people hadn’t gone anywhere near any of those exposure sites, and so to open it up to every single asymptomatic person [to be tested] would not necessarily have been proportionate,” he said.

Professor Sutton also highlighted the “burden” for contacts of contacts to enter 14 days of quarantine.

“We’ve got hundreds of people isolating in Kilmore,” he said. “I think they accept that as a legitimate and proportionate measure to control that outbreak.”

A laminated sign shows drivers where to go for drive through coronavirus testing.
Authorities offered asymptomatic testing to the regional community of Kilmore as part of their outbreak response.(ABC News: Gemma Hall)

Public health physician Nathan Grills, an associate professor at the University of Melbourne’s School of Population and Global Health, agreed it was important the number of people being asked to enter quarantine was proportionate to the outbreak in question.

“I think the risk with broadening quarantine or home isolation measures is that you scare people away from identifying as contacts, or even getting tested,” he said.

“If people know that identifying as having visited an area may mean severe restrictions — such as mandatory testing, arbitrary home isolation and additional restrictions on their family — then they may hesitate to self identify as at risk and avoid testing.”

Questions remain over why workplace link wasn’t picked up

University of New South Wales epidemiologist Mary-Louise McLaws, who is an adviser to the World Health Organization, said questions remained around why a contact tracing interview with the cleaner as a close contact did not reveal a link to the Butcher Club earlier.

Professor McLaws said the most recent version of Victoria’s contact tracing questionnaire she had seen included questions on a person’s occupation and employer and should have revealed the recent shifts at the Butcher Club.

“Importantly, she should have been interviewed as a close contact of her family members who are unwell and therefore a potential risk to her workplace,” she said.https://www.abc.net.au/res/sites/news-projects/covid-victoria-roadmap/1.2.3/?abcnewsembedheight=570

Professor McLaws also questioned Professor Sutton’s position that asymptomatic testing of everyone who had visited Chadstone would not represent “value for money”.

“What’s the value of having a third wave compared to hundreds of extra tests?” she asked.

“And yes, you might not find a lot of cases, but if the cleaner was infectious you might find others before they become a source of infection.”

Professor McLaws welcomed the handling of the Kilmore outbreak as a “good thing”, and not dissimilar to the approach taken in Tasmania to prevent a hospital outbreak in Burnie from overwhelming the regional town earlier this year.

“That sort of true ring-fencing style, where you ask everybody to go into quarantine or isolation regardless of whether or not they’re testing positive,” she said.

“This is highly precautionary, and it’s something that outbreak managers do when they believe that there’s a big risk of people being highly interconnected and therefore a rapid transmission.”

She said there were lessons to be learnt from the outbreak.

“This case of the cleaner reminds me that cases are part of the community and unless you do a thorough and deep contact tracing, people will escape inadvertently,” she said. “And if they’re highly infectious, they have the opportunity to cause more clusters.”

2 thoughts on “In Memory of Charlotte, my Mother”

https://auntyuta.com/2014/02/17/in-memory-of-charlotte-my-mother/

  1. berlioz1935EditIt is interesting that she passed away on the night of our wedding anniversary. A wedding she had originally not liked taking place. In later years she changed her tune and we were good friends. When we saw her last before she suffered her stroke she suffered severely from dementia. She actually did not know who we were. But I must say she was at that stage a very easy going lovely old lady. I think, without her memory her real good self became dominant.She was immortalised in the film about the Olympic Games in 1936 when the camera, probably scanning the crowd, caught her image. I made this into a fictional story and published it in a blog of my own.http://berlioz1935.wordpress.com/2011/09/19/the-woman-who-jumped-up-for-jesse-owens/Reply
    1. auntyutaEditThanks for the comment and for the link, Berlioz.
      Actually I reblogged the Jesse Owens story. Maybe this way a few more people are becoming aware of it. If it is true – and we cannot be 100% sure about this – it would say a lot about my mother. Peter Uwe, as I remember, refused to believe that Charlotte jumped up for Jesse Owens, when we showed him the documentary. But who knows? It might very well be true. This picture from the Leni Riefenstahl documentary for sure shows a great likeness, This is what I think. 🙂

Above is a link to my blog from February 2014 where I mentioned how my mother died and where her ashes got buried.

https://catterel.wordpress.com/2020/09/24/saving-the-bacon/#comment-7279

Catterel wrote a story about dementia and this led me to make the following comment:

‘I actually saw my mum only for a few weeks at the end of 1994 just before she had a stroke and died within a few days after that. So I had esperienced her dementia only for a very short time during our Berlin visit in 1994. My mother was 83 at the time. I wrote about it here:

https://auntyuta.com/2014/02/17/in-memory-of-charlotte-my-mother/

In a comment to my blog from February 2014 Peter, my husband wrote:

“. . . When we saw her last before she suffered her stroke she suffered severely from dementia. She actually did not know who we were. But I must say she was at that stage a very easy going lovely old lady. I think, without her memory her real good self became dominant. . .”

I think Peter is right, for all the difficult times that she had experienced during her life, probably did not bother her anymore, and she probably forgot about people that she felt did offend her and that she did hold a grudge against. I had the impression she did not hold a grudge against anyone anymore. And she was even able to retrieve some beautiful memories about her travels that she had been able to do before she retired. She showed me Photos about these travels. I am sure these travels she was still able to remember!!’🙂

Twenty-Seven Years ago

These are pictures from 1993!

AuntyUta

Peter with Caroline, Uta, Troy and Ryan in September 1993 in the park at Moss Vale Station Peter with Caroline, Troy,  Uta,  and Ryan in September 1993 in the park at Moss Vale Station

Troy and Ryan are the twin sons of Monika.

The three sisters: Gaby, Caroline and Monika, as well as Monika's daughters, Tashi and baby Roxy. August 1993 The three sisters: Gaby, Caroline and Monika, as well as Monika’s daughters, Tashi and baby Roxy.
1993

This picture was taken in front of Gaby’s house, probably on Gaby’s birthday

which was on the 28th of  August.

View original post

EAST TURKISTAN

Brief History

https://www.uyghurcongress.org/en/east-turkestan-2/

East Turkistan, also known as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China, lies in the very heart of Asia. Situated along the fabled ancient Silk Road, it has been a prominent centertur of commerce for more than 2,000 years. The land of East Turkistan gave birth to many great civilizations and at various points in history has been a cradle of scholarship, culture and power.

The current territorial size of East Turkistan is 1.82 million square kilometers. The neighboring Chinese province annexed part of the territory as a result of the Chinese communist invasion of 1949.

East Turkistan borders China and Mongolia to the east, Russia to the north, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India to the west, and Tibet to the south.

East Turkistan has a rich history and a diverse geography. It has grand deserts, magnificent mountains, and beautiful rivers, grasslands and forests.

The Manchu Invasion

The independent Uyghur Kingdom in East Turkistan — the Seyyid Kingdom, also known as Yarkent Kingdom — was invaded by the Manchu rulers of China in 1759 who annexed East Turkistan into their empire. The Manchus ruled East Turkistan as a military colony from 1759 to 1862. During this period, the Uyghurs and other peoples of East Turkistan valiantly opposed the foreign rule in their land. They revolted 42 times against Manchu rule with the purpose of regaining their independence. The Manchu were finally expelled in 1864 and Uyghurs established Yetteshahar State. However, the independence was short lived, Manchus invaded East Turkistan again in 1876. After eight years of bloody war, the Manchu Empire formally annexed East Turkistan into its territories and renamed it “Xinjiang” (meaning “New Territory”) on November 18, 1884.

Chinese Rule in East Turkistan

After the Chinese Nationalists overthrew the Manchu Empire in 1911, East Turkistan fell under the rule of warlords of Chinese ethnicity who came to dominate provincial administration in the later years of the Manchu Empire. The Chinese central government had little control over East Turkistan during this period. The Uyghurs, who wanted to free themselves from foreign domination, staged numerous uprisings against Chinese rule, and twice (in 1933 and in 1944) succeeded in setting up an independent East Turkistan Republic (ETR). However, these independent republics were overthrown by the military intervention and political intrigue of the Soviet Union.

In October of 1949, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops marched into East Turkistan, effectively ending the ETR. The Chinese communists established the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in the territory of East Turkistan.

The Chinese communist reign in East Turkistan can be considered the darkest chapter in the history of the Uyghurs and East Turkistan. Under the current conditions, the very existence of the Uyghur nation is under threat. The Chinese communist government has been carrying out a vicious campaign against Uyghurs and other indigenous people of East Turkistan in order to permanently annex the lands of East Turkistan.

Despite all the brutal and destructive campaigns by the Chinese government against their identity and existence, the Uyghurs and other indigenous peoples of East Turkistan refuse to be subjugated by China and keep carrying the torch of resistance against Chinese occupation, handed down to them by their ancestors.

People

East Turkistan is the homeland of the Turkic speaking Uyghurs and other Central Asian peoples such as Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Uzbeks, Tatars and Tajiks.

According to latest Chinese census of 2010, the current population of East Turkistan is 21.81 million, including 8.75 million ethnic Han Chinese (40,1%), who illegally settled in East Turkistan after 1949 (the ethnic Han Chinese numbered 200,000 in 1949). The Uyghurs make up at least 11 million of the population, although the 2002 census listed their number as around 10.2 million and still constitute the majority of East Turkistan. However, the composition of the population shifts more and more in favor of the Han Chinese, turning the Uyghurs into strangers in their own land. However, Uyghur sources put the real population of Uyghurs around 20 million.

East Turkistan is located beyond the logical boundary of China, the Great Wall. Historically and culturally, East Turkistan is part of Central Asia, not of China. The people of East Turkistan are not Chinese; they are Turks of Central Asia.

Records show that the Uyghurs have a history of more than 4,000 years in East Turkistan.

Throughout the history, independent states established by the ancestors of the Uyghurs and other indigenous peoples thrived and prospered in the lands of East tTurkistan. Situated along a section of the legendary Silk Road, Uyghurs played an important role in cultural exchanges between East and West and developed a unique culture and civilization of their own.

In their early history, the Uyghurs, like most of the other Turkic peoples of Central Asia, believed in Shamanism, Manichaeism and Buddhism. Starting from the 1st century AD and until the arrival of Islam, East Turkistan became one of the great centers of Buddhist civilization.

The conversion to Islam began when contacts between Uyghurs and Muslims started at the beginning of the 9th century. During the reign of the Karahanidin kings, the Islamization of Uyghur society accelerated. Kashgar, the capital of the Karahadin Kingdom, quickly became one of the major learning centers of Islam. The arts, sciences, music and literature flourished as Islamic religious institutions nurtured the pursuit of an advanced culture. In this period, hundreds of world-renowned Uyghur scholars emerged. Thousands of valuable books were written. Among these works, the Uyghur scholar Yusup Has Hajip’s book, Kutadku Bilig (The knowledge for Happiness, 1069-1070) and Mahmud Kashgar’s Divan-I Lugat-it Turk (a dictionary of Turk language) are most influential.

Geography

East Turkistan covers an area of 1.82 million square kilometers, which is twice as large as the Republic of Turkey or four times as large as the American state of California. More than 43 percent of this area is covered by deserts and another 40 percent is covered by mountain ranges.

This huge land is charcterized mainly by two basins bounded by three mountain ranges. The two basins are the Tarim Basin in the south, which measures 530,000 square kilometers, and the Junggar Basin in the north, which covers an area of 304,200 square kilometers. The Tarim Basin contains one of the largest deserts in the world — the Taklamakan desert. The Junggar basin contains the Kurbantunggut desert.

Tengritagh mountain range (Heavenly mountain) crosses the central part of East Turkistan, dividing the country into south and north. Within East Turkistan, the Tengritagh mountain range is 1,700 kilometers long and 250-300 kilometers wide. Altay mountain range in the north forms the border of East Turkistan with Mongolia, Russia and Kazakhstan. Its section within East Turkistan is 400 kilometers long. The Kunlun mountain in the south forms the the border between East Turkistan and Tibet.

The most important rivers are the Tarim River (2,137 km long), traversing almost the whole length of the southern part of East Turkistan and emptzing into the desert; the Ili River flows west to Kazakhstan and into Lake Balqash; the Irtish River flows northwest out of East Turkistan and into the Arctic Ocean; the Karashaar River flows east from central Tengritagh into Lake Baghrash; the Konche River, starting from the Baghrash lake, originally flowed into Lopnur Lake, but now disappears in the desert long before reaching the lake.

. . . . . .

Memories from September 1943 to Beginning of 1945

CHILDHOOD MEMORIES

Towards the end of September 1943 we left Berlin to live in the country. We moved to a place called the ‘Ausbau’, which meant that eventually ‘more’ was to be added to the building.. It was a simple rectangular red brick complex with several entrances around the building. There was no plumbing or electricity. The entrance for us ‘Berliners’ was on the left side at the front of the building. We had a cellar, a groundfloor and two upper floors.

  Mum, my two younger brothers and I, shared a bedroom on the first upper floor. We also had a small kitchen and a living-room. I would sleep in the living-room when my dad came home on leave. Two maids, one Polish, the other Russian, shared two rooms on the top floor. All the rooms on the top floor had sloping ceilings. Our Polish maid was in her early twenties. Her name was Maria. She was very efficient and always rather serious.. The Todtenhausen Family, who lived on the groundfloor, employed Katja, the Russian maid, who was only eighteen and extremely fun loving.

   My mum’s sister, Tante Ilse, also had her rooms on the first upper floor. She had a bedroom and a living-room. On the groundfloor, right underneath her upper rooms, she had a kitchen and a dining-room. She hardly ever used those downstairs rooms. Our friends from Berlin, the Todtenhausen Family, occupied three rooms downstairs, namely a kitchen, a living-room and a bedroom, the same arrangement of rooms that we had on the upper floor.

   There was an additional larger room for storage under the sloping roof. The Todtenhausen Family and my Family stored in that room additional larger furniture which we wanted to save from the bombs in Berlin. — In that room Mum stored a lot of Boskop-apples during the cold season. They were neatly spread out on some straw. Come Christmas-time, other delicious food was also hidden somewhere amongst our stored furniture. It was very tempting for me to go exploring in that room! Mum noticed sometimes, that some food was missing. And I admitted, when questioned, that I had helped myself to some of the goodies. However I was never punished for doing such a thing. That shows, that Mum must have been quite tolerant. —

   On the same upper floor right under the roof was a playroom, which my brothers and I shared with eight year old Eva Todtenhausen. There was another room next to the playroom where Frau Todtenhausen’s parents had stored some bedroom furniture. The parents were Herr und Frau Braun. They had a business in Berlin. (They sometimes stayed at the ‘Ausbau’ in that bedroom in order to be with their family away from the bombs in Berlin.)

   Our toilets were “plumps-closets” some distance away from the house. Water for cooking and washing had to be fetched from a pump in the backyard. Fetching water from the pump kept both maids very busy indeed. For lights we had kerosine-lamps, for heating there were coal-fired stoves which could also be used for cooking. Everything was very basic.

   Gradually some changes were being made. The first big change was that our landlord had electricity laid on. All the workers who lived with their families in the other part of the building, received the benefit of electricity at the same time. This certainly was a very welcome improvement for them.

   The ‘Ausbau’ was built close to a dirt-track which meandered through wide open barley-, oat- and potato-fields. On the track it was a good half hour to walk to the next village. Bike-riding however made it a bit quicker.

   Werner Mann, the owner of all those fields that went on for miles and miles, was an acquaintance of Tante Ilse. He was apparently quite rich and also owned extensive brick-works (Ziegeleien). It was said of him that he was a millionaire. He was our landlord, and he liked to spoil us. With no strings attached! Tante Ilse only had to voice a wish, and Werner Mann immediately did whatever he could to fulfill her wish. He spoilt us by constantly getting produce delivered to us: Potatoes, cabbage for making sauerkraut, wonderful treacle made of sweet-beets, and coal for our stoves.

   Even I, as a nine year old, could see that sixty year old Werner Mann was hopelessly in love with Ilse. I also was quite aware, that she always kept him at a distance. He was happy to just be invited for ”Kaffee und Kuchen’ on weekends and to spend some time with all of us. He always came to visit on his bike. On his daily inspection tours of the workers in the fields he also went around on his bike. He owned coaches with horses, but hardly ever used those to go anywhere.

   When we were invited to his place (which people called ‘Schloss’), he would send the coach with a coachman to pick us up. Once in winter when there was plenty of snow, Werner Mann sent a ‘Pferde-Schlitten’ (horse-drawn sledge). On this sledge we were wrapped up in blankets under a clear night-sky with the moon and lots of stars shining on us. It was unforgettable and one of the rare highlights in our otherwise pretty dreary country-life existence.

   The place, where Werner Mann lived, did not look like a castle at all, even though people called it ‘Schloss’. It was not even a mansion but a rather large, but fairly plain house. There was a huge, fenced in veggie garden next to the house. I have seen the veggie garden only once. However I was very impressed by it, because it seemed to be so very large.

   When we moved to the ‘Ausbau’, Ilse had already been divorced from Adolf Schlinke. It was obvious that Werner M. would have liked to marry Ilse. However, it never came to that. Ilse married Helmut Lorenz on July 20th, 1944.

                     CHILDHOOD MEMORIES CONTINUED

It was a big thrill for me to go exploring amongst the furniture in that big storage-room: and especially in the weeks before Christmas!

Mum used to store lot of goodies for the Christmas season. It was very exciting for me to find out what new things had been stored in that big room. I remember seeing huge chunks of nougat (a yummy hazelnut-paste) as well as heart-shaped marzipan-pieces. There was a pot with sweetened thick milk. Sometimes I dipped my finger into it to lick this wonderful sweet stuff! I also liked to eat a few of the stored raisins and prunes! Smells of ginger bread and apples: It made me feel that Christmas was something to be looking forward to.

Where on earth did Mum get all those things from? It was war-time, wasn’t it? We were in the midst of war! I knew very well where all this came from. The parents of Frau Todtenhausen had a distributing business. It was called ‘Backbedarf en Gros’. That meant they delivered goods to bakeries and cake-shops. Even in the midst of war deliveries of the above mentioned goods still took place! Of course there were shortages, but basically most things were still available.

Herr and Frau Todtenhausen, as well as Tante Ilse and Mum, all of them were good friends. Every Saturday night they came together for some card games. Eight year old daughter Eva and I were allowed to stay up late on those nights. For hours we were watching the adults playing cards, and at the same time we were entertaining ourselves with doodling on bits of paper. At around ten o’clock some cake and hot chocolate as well as coffee would be served. But the maids did not have to do the serving, They were already in their rooms at this hour. The cake was usually freshly baked, very fluffy yeast cake topped with delicious butter-crumbs and filled with a thick custard. Hmm yummy!

Herr Todtenhausen would stay in Berlin during the week, where he was employed by his parents-in-law. Being over forty, he was not required to join the German army. Herr Todtenhauyseb always brought some sweet goodies along when he came home from Berlin for the weekend.

During the summer of 1944 Herr Todtenhausen and Mum liked to go on their bikes to a neighbouring Nursery where they were able to trade sweets for fresh produce. Eva and I were often allowed to go along with them on our bikes. The sweets were traded for strawberries or cherries or gooseberries as well as peaches and apricots, and later on in the year for pears and apples. I remember the Boskop apples were still in season in late autumn. The owner of the nursery was a well-off looking middle-aged woman who was very fond of sweets and loved to trade her produce. At one time we found out that she thought Herr Todtenhausen and Mum were a couple and we girls were sisters. Laughing joyfully, Mum and Herr Todtenhausen explained, that this was not so.

Only once as far as I remember were we shown into the lady’s home. Herr Todtenhausen  made complimentary remarks about the interior of the house. He said it showed off the owner’s good taste. I liked the lady’s house a real lot too. Our families used to have well furnished apartments in Berlin. But this modern looking villa in the midst of the nursery really was something else. My feelings were, I would very much like to live in a place like that. However we had to be happy with our accomodation in the Ausbau. To us children it was always pointed out, to be happy that we did not have to live amongst the bomb raids in Berlin. I’m pretty sure that by myself I felt that I’d rather live in Berlin, bomb-raids or not. I think to children bomb-raids usually didn’t seem as scary as to the adults. At the time we children had had no experience yet how absolutely horrible those bomb-raids could become.

In 1990, soon after the Fall of the Wall, I went with my family to have a look at the area where we used to be hidden away from the bomb-raids. We discovered that the nursery as well as the lady’s house had completely vanished. There was nothing left of the ‘Ausbau’ either!

In 1943, when we had lived at he ‘Ausbau’ only for a couple of months, Frau Todtenhausen delivered a healthy daughter in a regional hospital. The day after the baby was born, it may perhaps have been a Saturday or Sunday, Herr Todtenhausen and Eva went for the forty-five minute bike-ride to the Hospital. I was thrilled that I was allowed to go with them! The baby was on the tiny side and soon called Krümel (tiny crumb). Edith had a pet-name too. She was often called Honkepong.

As soon as Frau Todtenhausen came home from hospital, there was a nurse waiting for her to take charge of the baby. Herr Todtenhausen said something like: “Katja is a very nice girl, but I would not trust her with our new born baby. I am glad that Nurse is here to help my wife to look after our Krümel.”

Nurse used for herself the bedroom next to our playroom. Sometimes she sat with us children in the playroom. Since Christmas was approaching, she taught us how to make some Christmas decorations. I was very impressed, because I was nine years old and nobody had ever taught me anything like it! Nurse also made sure, we learned our Christmas poems. We had to be prepared to recite them to Santa on Christmas Eve!

 Maria, our Polish maid, had been with us since before my little brother Peter was born. He regarded Maria as his ‘Dah-dah’, that is he always called her ‘Dah-dah’. By the end of January 1945 we had to flee from the ‘Ausbau’ as the Russians were approaching fast. We went to Berlin first and then by train to Leipzig to stay at Grandmother’s place. Maria remained in Berlin with her Polish fiancee, who was a butcher.

 When we parted from Maria, little Peter had just turned three. Yet he must have missed his Dah-Dah for quite a while since she had always looked after him, and I am sure, he loved her very much and she loved him. Mum always trusted Maria, who was in every way caring and efficient at the same time. Mum was always impressed how quickly Maria did all the housework. Any dirty dishes were washed immediately. She was indeed capable of doing all the housework, and Mum was happy to let her do just about everything. An exception was the baking of a large cake on Saturdays, which Mum loved to do herself.

Maria always made some potato-salad for the weekend. I watched how she did it. To the peeled and sliced potatoes she added finely cut onion, some oil, pepper and salt. Then she poured hot vinegar-water over the potatoes as a finishing touch. The huge salad-bowl was placed outside on a shelf near the stairway so the salad could cool down. I often helped myself to some of the warm salad when nobody was looking, because I loved to eat the salad when it was still a little bit warm. It was the same every Saturday. I watched Maria preparing the salad and placing it on the shelf outside. Then it did not take long before I had a good taste of it!

Friday night was the night for our bath. Maria placed a small tin-tub on the kitchen-floor. She carried several buckets of water from the outside pump to the kitchen. Some of the water she heated on the kitchen-stove in an especially huge pot. I was always the first one to use the bath-water, then it was brother Bodo’s turn. Little brother Peter was always the last one. Some hot water was added for everyone, but still the water must have been quite dirty for little Peter after Bodo and I had had our baths!

When Maria first came to live with us, she knew very little German. However she was determined to learn German quickly. She liked to ask Bodo and me how to pronounce certain words. She also asked me how to write those words in German. Mum often praised Maria, that she was willing and able to learn quickly. This applied to everything she did. She was an amazingly efficient person. A ‘pearl of a maid’ people would say of her. Maria was a city girl. She came from Lodz, which was called ‘Litzmannstadt’ at the time. We had spent the summer-months of 1941 at Zokolniki (near Lodz) and that was when Maria was assigned to us as a help. Mum liked Maria and wanted her to come with us when we went back to Berlin. Maria told me later that she did not want to leave Poland. But she had not been given the choice to stay in her own country.

When Katja arrived, we could see that she was very different from Maria. She was a country-girl from Russia. She never learned German as well as Maria did. She could never be trusted to do all the house-work by herself. Frau Todtenhausen always had to supervise her and do certain things herself because Katja took too long to learn to do it properly. But we all loved Katja. She was always cheerful and full of beans. As a country-girl she did not know certain things that a city-girl had been brought up with. Maria took to instructing Kartja about certain things. I think they communicated in German. After they finished work in the evening, they had plenty of time to stay in their rooms together and keep each other company. Both girls always had to get up early. During summer, school-classes in the village started as early as seven o’clock. That meant, I had to get up at six o’clock to get ready for school. Mum never got up that early. But Maria always came down at six o’clock to start working for us. She often had to do Peter’s linen early in the morning, which I am sure was not one of her favourite tasks.