“Enigma” cryptography machine

The history of cryptography, literally “hidden writing”, goes back to Antiquity. In the 5th century B.C., Aeneas Tacticus compiled methods of cryptography in chapter 31 of How to Survive Under Siege. Over the centuries, procedures became more complicated and cryptography became widespread during the Great War. In the aftermath of the conflict, the German engineer Scherbius developed and sold the commercial version of the Enigma machine before it was adopted by the German army.

Enigma is a portable electromechanical machine that uses rotors (3 for the land army and 4 for the navy) to encrypt and decipher messages. During the Second World War, the British mathematician Turing and his colleagues continued with the work started by the Polish mathematicians Rejewski, Różycki and Zygalski, who had managed to decipher messages sent using the Enigma machine using an electromechanical machine called "Rejewski's bomb".

The staff at Bletchley Park, the headquarters of the encryption services (Ultra code), were especially committed to the naval version of the Enigma machine because of the ships they had lost in the Atlantic. After the capture of submarine U-110 on 9 May 1941 by the Royal Navy, including an Enigma with its codes, the Allies were able to direct transatlantic convoys away from the U-Boot patrol zones. Despite the introduction of an Enigma with 4 rotors in 1942, which made messages between submarines momentarily indecipherable, cryptanalysts managed to decipher the messages.



Author: Chiffriermaschinen Gesellschaft Heimsoeth und Rinke (Berlin)



Place of creation: Germany




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History: Warehouse of the Inspectorate of Transmissions (1999)