Winston Churchill, Nazis, and the (almost) exploding chocolate bar

photo by John Loo (creative commons)

The year was 1943, and those crafty Nazis had come up with another plan to assassinate Winston Churchill.  They decided to prey upon the Prime Minister’s fondness for expensive chocolate, and began work on a bomb hidden in a pound-slab bar of Peter’s Chocolate.

photo via (cc)

How it was supposed to work:

The chocolate bar was made of steel, with a thin layer of real chocolate covering it.  Inside was the explosive, with a 7-second delay mechanism.  I’ll quote the rest of the description, as detailed by Lord Rothschild, head of counter-espionage at MI5:

When you break off a piece of chocolate at one end in the normal way, a piece of canvas is revealed stuck in the middle of the piece  which has been broken off and sticking in the remainder of the slab.  When the piece of chocolate is pulled sharply, the canvas is also pulled and this initiates the mechanism.

The bar was wrapped in shiny, expensive foil, and labeled “Peter’s Chocolate.”  The plan was to take the chocolate into the war cabinet dining room, and so take out as many cabinet members as possible, along with Churchill.

As you may have guessed, the plot was unsuccessful.  British agents, working undercover in Germany, alerted MI5 about the plot, and included a rough sketch of the bars they had seen.

Since there was concern that the chocolate bars may actually reach the British public, Lord Rothschild wrote a secret letter to artist Laurence Fish, asking him to draw a better picture of what such a bar might look like. (Fish’s widow just recently discovered this letter, part of which is quoted above, and donated it to the country’s collection of other war-time documents).  Check out The Huffington Post’s article, which includes a photo of Rothschild’s letter.

Below (via Photobucket) is a sketch, but I haven’t been able to establish if this is Fish’s drawing, or someone else’s: Exploding Chocolate Bar

Check out these other sources:

Mystery Fanfare: Death by Chocolate: Winston Churchill.


Sometimes real life is crazier than fiction, right?  What do you think of the plot – did they really have a chance to pull it off?  I’d love to hear from you!

Until next time,


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12 thoughts on “Winston Churchill, Nazis, and the (almost) exploding chocolate bar”

  1. Julie GloverJulie Glover

    Really? Death by chocolate? I thought that was a dessert. Fascinating stuff! Churchill was awesome. I can just see him with a fifth of whiskey and a big ol’ chocolate bar and throwing out his famous quips.

  2. Natalie HartfordNatalie Hartford

    Shut the front door! Reality is really stranger than fiction sometimes. LOL! People will think of just about everything, won’t they. I would have never guessed it…death by chocolate. And you know, it just may have worked had it not been for the undercover agents!
    GREAT post Kathy!

  3. Marcy KennedyMarcy Kennedy

    You’d think the fake chocolate which is mostly metal would be heavier than real chocolate and that might make someone suspicious, but you never know. Sometimes if we’re distracted by something else important (as I imagine Churchill would have been while in conference with other high ranking officials), we don’t notice small details. I guess we’ll never know. I will say, though, it’s only M&Ms for me from now on!

  4. Debra EveDebra Eve

    You’re right — if I’d read this in a novel, I would have thought the author had gone overboard. Fascinating as usual, Kathy!

  5. Jenny HansenJenny Hansen

    I still think you might be having me on with this one, which means it’s a great story! 🙂


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