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 Reading Upperintermediate Text 5

'Death by chocolate' plot to kill Sir Winston Churchill

A historic letter indicates the Nazis planned to assassinate Sir Winston Churchill, the British wartime prime minister, with a bar of exploding chocolate.

A Nazi plot to kill Sir Winston Churchill with a bar of exploding chocolate during the Second World War has been revealed in historic papers.

Giving a new meaning to the dessert name "death by chocolate”, Adolf Hitler’s bomb makers coated explosive devices with a thin layer of rich dark chocolate, then packaged it in expensive-looking black and gold paper.

The Germans apparently planned to use secret agents working in Britain to discreetly place the bars - branded as Peters Chocolate - among other luxury items taken into the dining room used by the War Cabinet during the conflict.

The lethal slabs of confection were packed with enough explosives to kill anyone within several metres.

But the plot was foiled by British spies who discovered the chocolate was being made and tipped off one of MI5’s most senior intelligence chiefs, Lord Victor Rothschild, before the wartime prime minister’s life could be endangered.

Lord Rothschild, a scientist in peace time as well as a key member of the Rothschild banking family, immediately typed a letter to a talented illustrator seconded to his unit, asking him to draw poster-size images of the chocolate to warn the public to be on the look-out.

His letter to the artist, Laurence Fish, is dated May 4, 1943 and was written from his secret bunker in Parliament Street, London.

It was unearthed by Mr Fish's wife, journalist Jean Bray, as she sorted through his possessions after the artist's death at the age of 89 in 2009.

The letter, marked "secret", reads: "Dear Fish, I wonder if you could do a drawing for me of an explosive slab of chocolate.

"We have received information that the enemy are using pound slabs of chocolate which are made of steel with a very thin covering of real chocolate.

"Inside there is high explosive and some form of delay mechanism…When you break off a piece of chocolate at one end in the normal way, instead of it falling away, a piece of canvas is revealed stuck into the middle of the piece which has been broken off and a ticking into the middle of the remainder of the slab.”

The letter explained how the mechanism would be activated when the piece of chocolate was pulled sharply, which would also pull the canvas, and Lord Rothschild said he was enclosing a "very poor sketch” done by someone who had seen one of the bars.

He asked the artist to indicate in the text on his drawing that a bomb would go off seven seconds after the piece of chocolate and attached canvas was pulled out.

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