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Le Jeu de la Libération

  • Publisher: Les Editions de Mce de Vaivre, Bruxelles
  • Engraver: Studio Ars, Bruxelles
  • Date: 1944
  • Dimensions: sheet: 50 x 65 cms / wrappers: 22 x 13 cms


Rare World War Two map game published in Bruxelles shortly after liberation in Sept 1944 & outlining Allied advance to Berlin

About this piece:

Le Jeu de la Libération / Le Jeu à la mode / Dedié a nos Libérateurs

[The Liberation Game – the game that’s in fashion – dedicated to our Liberators]

Printed colour broadsheet, with original printed rules still present (on lower section, evidently designed to be trimmed down/ cut off). Complete with its original printed paper wrappers/covers. In remarkably well-preserved condition.

A rare and highly unusual World War Two goose-type game published by the firm of M(auri)ce de Vaivre, 4 Rue des Tongres, Bruxelles 4, very probably in celebration of the liberation of the Belgian capital by Allied forces in early September 1944, almost exactly 3 months to the day since the D-Day landings.

The colourful game, printed on a single folding sheet of thick paper, takes the form of a map of Western Europe and offers the opportunity for between two and four players (with dice) to advance from the D-Day Normandy beaches via four alternative routes to final victory in Berlin (marked by a crossed out swastika). Along the four 18 number routes, players can be helped or hindered by landing on particular numbers – for example landing on No.4 marks the capture of a village by Free French forces and an immediate move forward to No.5; however by landing on No.5 a player’s progress is delayed by a mined road, which leads to two missed turns; landing on No.7 is accompanied by an enemy bombardment resulting in a return to No.5…and so on and so forth…with advances and regressions along the four tracks dependent upon the throw of the dice and local Allied or enemy successes in the ongoing hostilities. Victory finally comes to the player who arrives in Berlin first. The optimism of Belgian Liberation belied the ensuing 8 months of terrible conflict before that strategic allied aim in fact became a reality.  The map is decorated with the crossed flags of France and Belgium and in the lower Rules section, two vignettes depict a clenched “thumbs up” sign with the words “Honneur aux Tommies” and a “V for Victory” sign (so closely associated with Winston Churchill) with the words “Gloire aux Sammies”.

The original printed wrappers for the Map are still present and in fine condition. They replicate the information printed on the map,  with the additional note: “se joue à 2,3 ou 4 jouers partant des points de débarquement pour arriver à Berlin a travers tous les obstacles : bombardements, mines, ponts sautés, etc., aidés par les Forces de L’Intérieur”. The wrapper also reveals that the game was originally sold for a price of 9 Belgian Francs in 1944.

The Bruxelles publishing firm of Mce Devaivre (or De Vaivre, as here) was particularly well-known in the inter-war period, the proprietor Maurice Devaivre taking a special personal interest in photography and in the publication of photographic books. He organized & hosted an International Exhibition of Photographic Art at his Rue des Tongres premises in April 1939. The business appears to have continued publishing in post-war period and into the 1950’s.