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Colditz Castle Escape Story: Playing Cards as the Best Christmas Present

Colditz Castle Escape Story: Playing Cards as the Best Christmas Present 86

In 1944, a prison was set up in the ancient Saxon castle of Colditz, where the most desperate British and American prisoners of war were gathered. They were carefully guarded, as prone to escape, but here’s the paradox – soon after receiving Christmas gifts from the Red Cross mission, 32 prisoners successfully escaped from the castle one after another. In total, over 300 prisoners escaped throughout Germany that winter, and the secret of their luck was kept secret for another 30 years.

Air superiority by 1944 had become a decisive factor in the war, experienced pilots were worth their weight in gold, so they tried to rescue them from captivity by any means. Before the flight, the pilots received a message: “If you are taken prisoner, the gifts from home will be kept in secret.” UK MI9 and US MIS-X have contracted The Playing Card Company and Bicycle to create a special version of gift playing cards. Old-timers recall that it was the most exciting project of their time.

Having received a present for Christmas, the prisoners of war looked for decks with an oblique line on the packaging. After wetting the top layer, they opened the container map, taking out instructions, diagrams and maps of the area. They started with a joker, which was placed in the upper left corner, then substituted all spades, then diamonds, clubs and hearts. It turned out to be something like a puzzle, which, after being assembled, turned into a detailed map of the area with valuable instructions for organizing an escape.

Card deck

For each prison or camp with prisoners, separate sets of cards were made. In the case of Castle Colditz, an order was given to cross the border with Switzerland in the canton of Schaffhausen, but under no circumstances to appear near Lake Constance. 

When driving from Waldshut to Ravensburg, it was necessary to adhere to a power line with seven wires on 20-meter steel poles. It was necessary to move along the banks of the rivers, avoiding crossing the fields and going out to observation platforms.

Since the entire project was a gross violation of the Geneva Convention, the special services kept it secret even from the military themselves. The British indicated on the packages of Christmas gifts the outgoing addresses of buildings completely destroyed by German bombing. 

The Americans sent their sets of maps from forestries and from the mailboxes of environmental services. The veil of secrecy continued after the war, as long as the main organizers and performers were still alive. It was only in the 1970s that the CIA recognized the existence of this project.

Card deck

The incident with the escape of 32 prisoners of war from the Colditz castle was the most famous result of the use of cards with a secret, but the veterans of the special services themselves do not know how many attempts to escape from German prisons were. 

To confuse the guards, hundreds, if not thousands, of decks of ordinary playing cards were printed and given to prisoners. Many were of poor quality and were quick to jump to justify the transfer of new decks. There is no official information on this matter.

The International Espionage Museum, located in Washington, DC, today displays the last surviving deck of such cards. It has been sealed for 76 years, but next to it is an open six of clubs with a secret inside. 

In 2013, the Bicycle company released a souvenir version of the cards, which completely repeat the old design, but there is no need to open them – the secret content is openly printed on the front of the card. And you can personally try to feel like a prisoner who builds a plan to escape from Colditz Castle .

Source: Popular Mechanics

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Bizzare & Odd

The mystery of the “Mandalorian” with a Jetpack flying behind a plane is revealed

The mystery of the “Mandalorian”    with a Jetpack flying behind a plane is revealed 87

Documents have been released revealing the secret of a man with a rocket pack who flew behind passenger planes, according to The Drive.

The owner of The Black Vault, John Greenewald, took advantage of the US Freedom of Information Act to secure the publication of material relating to the rocket pack incident. From the records of the air traffic controllers’ conversations, which he received, it follows that the man maneuvering at an altitude of about 900 meters was noticed by several pilots. At the same time, the radars did not record a single object that would correspond to their description.

It also turned out that in early September 2020, government officials contacted David Mayman, the chief tester of the California-based company Jetpack Aviation, which develops rocket packs. Meiman said that the company had not flown for several months, and questioned the existence of rocket packs that would allow them to climb and hold at an altitude of 900 meters.

Another letter provided to Greenwald mentions that the FBI interrogated an American Airlines pilot who spoke of a man with a jetpack. During the conversation, he confirmed that the figure he noticed resembled a drone in the form of a man from a video filmed at the German Aircraft Modeling Festival in 2019.

This is a radio-controlled drone that was built by model aircraft designer Ralph Kayser. It resembles a life-size human figure, but weighs less than five kilograms. The Rotor Drone Pro website wrote that the device is made from a paintball suit stuffed with packing film and can stay in the air for up to eight minutes.

The incident leading to the investigation took place on August 30, 2020. According to press reports, an unidentified person with a jetpack flew approximately 270 meters from an American Airlines plane landing at the Los Angeles airport. In October, the man with the rocket pack was reported by several other pilots in southern California.

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An abnormal phenomenon on Earth captured from space: NASA and ESA have never seen such lightning

An abnormal phenomenon on Earth captured from space: NASA and ESA have never seen such lightning 88

The Atmosphere-Space Interactions Monitor (ASIM) observatory has recorded five blue jets , an anomalous type of lightning that strikes from the top of a thundercloud into the stratosphere. This is reported in an article published in the journal Nature.

On January 20, a video filmed from the International Space Station was posted on the channel of the European Space Agency, which puzzled all academics who study the atmosphere and build theories about how everything works there:

The 10 microsecond jets were sighted on February 26, 2019, near Nauru Island in the Pacific Ocean. One of the lightning flashes produced a jet that reached the stratopause – the boundary between the stratosphere and the ionosphere at an altitude of about 50 to 55 kilometers. In addition to the jets, “elves” were recorded, which are expanding rings of optical and ultraviolet radiation in the stratosphere, lasting no more than a millisecond.

Electrical phenomena in the upper atmosphere are poorly understood and attract a lot of attention from physicists from around the world. They are short-lived and vary greatly with altitude. 

Blue jets occur during electrical breakdown between the positively charged top of a thundercloud and the negatively charged air layer above it. As a result, a leader is formed – a conducting channel of ionized air, through which the discharge propagates. However, in this case, the radiation from the leader was weak, which indicates that the leader itself was short compared to the conductive channels of conventional lightning.

The blue jets belong to streamers – branched filaments of electrical discharges, similar to those generated by Tesla coils. In addition, blue jets are more likely to occur as a phenomenon than previously thought.

Some of the most mysterious are the “elves”. Their name comes from the abbreviation ELVES , which stands for “Emission of Light and Very Low Frequency perturbations due to Electromagnetic Pulse Sources.”. These phenomena reach four hundred kilometers in diameter and occur at an altitude of about one hundred kilometers. The list of optical phenomena associated with electrical discharges in the upper atmosphere does not end there. There are also TROLL , Pixie , Ghost, and Gnome , but their nature is even less understood. 

There is nothing like this, that is, such strange huge lightning has never been observed before. Something is happening in the Earth’s atmosphere, and it started quite recently. How it will end and what will result in – we do not know, since people living today have no such experience.

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Ancient asteroid sent dinosaur bones into moon

Ancient asteroid sent dinosaur bones into moon 89

The impact of the asteroid that destroyed the dinosaurs 66 million years ago was so powerful that it sent into space huge volumes of earth’s soil and rocks from the crash site. But together with them, he could send into orbit the remains of living beings, including dinosaurs.

Such a possibility is discussed in the book “The End of the World” by the scientific journalist and winner of several awards Peter Brannen, according to the Daily Mail.

It is known that an asteroid or meteorite about 10 km in size collided with the Earth 66 million years ago, forming the Chikshulub crater on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. About 15 trillion tons of ash and soot were thrown into the air. Because of  this, during the day it was dark on Earth, like a moonlit night.

As a result of the lack of light in plants, photosynthesis slowed down, which could lead to a decrease in the concentration of oxygen in the atmosphere. Temperatures on continents dropped by 28 ° C, in oceans by 11 ° C. The disappearance of phytoplankton has led to the extinction of zooplankton and other marine animals. Other species died after them. 

This is one of the largest mass extinctions in the history of the Earth, which is called the Cretaceous-Paleogene. Brannen, trying to make the numbers more descriptive, points out that the asteroid (or meteorite) was larger than Everest and crashed into the atmosphere 20 times faster than a flying bullet. At the same time, the pressure of the atmosphere was so strong that a crater in the Yucatan began to form even before the asteroid fell.

The “response” release of soil into the atmosphere occurred only within a second or two after the impact and was incredibly powerful.

“So there are probably little pieces of dinosaur bones on the moon,” Brannen suggests.

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