HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Main » General Discussion (Forum) » For Sale: A Tricky Cipher...

Tue Dec 4, 2018, 10:01 AM

For Sale: A Tricky Cipher From WWII

An Engima machine, photographed in 1943. BUNDESARCHIV, BILD 183-2007-0705-502/WALTHER/CC-BY-SA 3.0

Attention, tinkerers: It’s still solvable.

THE ORDERS WERE TO DESTROY the evidence. The cipher machines held secret, valuable messages, so when a Nazi encampment was on the verge of being seized, troops were instructed to dispose of their aptly named Enigma machines so that there was no code left to crack.

Time permitting, they would “open the machine, rip out the rotors, rip out the cables, bash in the machine with the butt of their rifle, and then throw it in the fire,” says Cassandra Hatton, a senior specialist at Sotheby’s who focuses on books, manuscripts, and the history of science. Soldiers using similar devices at sea would pitch them overboard. Rusted-out, moldering ciphers have been found on the floor of the Atlantic, Hatton says.

But there wasn’t always time to so thoroughly dismantle the devices. Sometimes, troops stowed the contraptions where they thought the Allies wouldn’t look. Tucked away in attics or barns, some of them survived. One still-functional Three-Rotor Enigma I Cipher Machine has made its way to Sotheby’s, where it will go under the hammer on November 30.

This three-wheeler would have been used by the German Heer (army) or the Luftwaffe (air force), Hatton says—naval machines eventually had four rotors. Because these machines were conceived to be covert, it’s hard to say exactly how many were in circulation, Hatton adds, or precisely when and where each was used. Judging by the serial number on this one, though, it was manufactured in 1944 by the Olympia Büromaschinenwerke company, an outfit better known for typewriters, for Heimsoeth und Rinke.

FULL story: https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/for-sale-a-cipher-from-wwii

2 replies, 497 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 2 replies Author Time Post
Reply For Sale: A Tricky Cipher From WWII (Original post)
Omaha Steve Dec 2018 OP
lapfog_1 Dec 2018 #1
aka-chmeee Dec 2018 #2

Response to Omaha Steve (Original post)

Tue Dec 4, 2018, 03:44 PM

2. Really neat site with simulator and technical data:

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread