Who cracked the enigma code?

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by v2, Feb 12, 2014.

  1. v2

    v2 Well-Known Member

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  2. pbehn

    pbehn Well-Known Member

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    Everything I have read about the cracking of the code makes reference to the excellent and important work done by the Poles. There wasnt one code there were severalthere was the naval enigma, also Lorenz and there wasnt one person who cracked them. Alan Turing was treated disgracefully post war and now seems to be getting elevated to God like status. There were 1,000s of people involved all over the world and at the beginning the Poles gave it all a great start. Ive never seen anything written in depth that didnt give full credit to the work of the Poles.
     
  3. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    I've always heard and read the Poles had cracked it.
     
  4. pbehn

    pbehn Well-Known Member

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    #4 pbehn, Feb 12, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2014
    Like I said there was more than one enigma. The Poles cracked the three rotor code with stolen settings. The five rotor enigma without the luxury of the rotor and key settings is a completely different matter. The biggest help in many cases was the operators themselves not following procedures, one stupid mistake could give the game away.

    From the BBC website


    Britain and her allies first understood the problems posed by this machine in 1931, when a German spy, Hans Thilo Schmidt, allowed his French spymasters to photograph stolen Enigma operating manuals, although neither French nor British cryptanalysts could at first make headway in breaking the Enigma cipher.

    It was only after they had handed over details to the Polish Cipher Bureau that progress was made. Helped by its closer links to the German engineering industry, the Poles managed to reconstruct an Enigma machine, complete with internal wiring, and to read the Wehrmacht's messages between 1933 and 1938.

    Top
    Ultra intelligence

    Few realised the significance of the work going on at Bletchley Park © With German invasion imminent in 1939, the Poles opted to share their secrets with the British, and Britain's Government Code and Cipher School (GC&CS) at Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire, became the centre for Allied efforts to keep up with dramatic war-induced changes in Enigma output.

    A host of top mathematicians and general problem-solvers was recruited, and a bank of early computers, known as 'bombes', was built - to work out the vast number of permutations in Enigma settings.

    The Germans were convinced that Enigma output could not be broken, so they used the machine for all sorts of communications - on the battlefield, at sea, in the sky and, significantly, within its secret services. The British described any intelligence gained from Enigma as 'Ultra', and considered it top secret.
     
  5. Capt. Vick

    Capt. Vick Well-Known Member

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    #5 Capt. Vick, Feb 12, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2014
    I heard one of the "break-throughs" that the Poles made was confirming that the rotors where number or lettered (I forget which) sequentially, while the British assumed that they wouldn't be and thus adding another level of difficulty to decoding. This bit of "obvious" deduction had initially escaped the British code breakers.
     
  6. pbehn

    pbehn Well-Known Member

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  7. swampyankee

    swampyankee Active Member

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    What I've read has depended on time.
    David Kahn's The Codebreakers did not seem to mention the Poles, possibly as the Cold War was still in full swing, and WW2 contributions by some countries were being deprecated.
    Later, the Poles did get billing, and credited with being seminal in getting Bletchley Park started on the right path. The Luftwaffe, with its chronically bad signals security, also got credit.
     
  8. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    Using the word "crack" is perhaps misleading. Certainly the poles were the first to understand the workings of Enigma,. and from there were able to decrypt some of the lower order codes. but , as has been already mentioned, the german cyphers were at many levels and the degree of traffic being read began as quite small, and then, as time passed, increased, not in a uniform manner, but by fits and starts as bits and pieces were added, and then the germans made changes to the machine over time. The U-Boat ciphers were not broken until the end of 1942, luftwaffe codes were being read to a small degree from April 1940, but not enough to be of much assistance for the BoB.

    Im not sure what benefits the Poles themselves derived from their intelligence efforts, but for the allies as a whole it was a good start given by the Poles, but a lot of extra work was still needed.

    Its a senitive subject. Everyone wants the credit for breaking the greatest Nazi secrets. truth is, they all contributed. Without the help of one,, the other would have been that much worse off.
     
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  9. N4521U

    N4521U Well-Known Member

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    Code?
    There's no code.
    Enemas have been used for hundreds of years!
     
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  10. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    Us Swedes were busy with it as well, don't know who, when and where though....
     
  11. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Polish mathematicians led by Jerzy Rozycki, Henryk Zygalski and notably Marian Rejewski with help from French cryptographer Gustave Bertrand, who in turn had received information about the commercial enigma machines from a spy Hans-Thilo Schmidt, did manage to break in to first the commercial 3 rotor enigma code and then the military 3 rotor codes. The latter was based on Rejewski's deduction of the wiring order clockwise round the entry disc ( QWERTYU..... on the commercial version which they knew from a captured machine) and unbelievably ABCDEFG.... on the military version. Neither the British nor the French had been able to do this and the Polish team deserve great credit for their breakthrough.

    In September 1938 the Germans changed the Enigma procedures for enciphering message keys and the Polish team was unable to break the three rotor enigma again. It never attempted the later more complex machines and codes.

    The Poles had piggy-backed two enigma machines to make a device they called a 'cyclometer' to deduce the 'characteristics' (enigma configuration and message settings) of a days radio traffic. This was a mere 105,456 for every wheel order and every wheel start position. Rejewski also developed an electro mechanical device called a 'Bomba' of which six were used to attack doubly enciphered enigma messages with very limited success. These were nonetheless ancestors of the much more sophisticated 'Bombes' developed by the British a few years later.

    The Polish experience was valuable later to the British but it was they, not the Poles, who finally compromised the more sophisticated enigma codes, including machines using more rotors (with many more possibilities) and a different encipherment start, known as the indicator, for each message sent, the chosen indicator being transmitted with the double enciphered message setting in the header of the German message.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
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  12. Messy1

    Messy1 Well-Known Member

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    Was there such a unit or intelligence group used by Germany who job was to check the security of the enigma codes by trying to constantly break the codes? A group not familiar with the code. Seems to me this would be the best way to guarantee the security of the code system.
     
  13. pbehn

    pbehn Well-Known Member

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    I have never read anything about such a group. The best bet would be to monitor operators to ensure compliance with procedures, Time and again the operators gave the allies a leg up in breaking the code by doing what they shouldnt. The Lorenz code may never have been broken if not for one operator error.
     
  14. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Absolutely correct. Such was the confidence in the system that lazy operating procedures and repetition became common place, the Luftwaffe was the worst offender, and these did give the Bletchley Park teams a 'way in'.

    The best way to check whether your codes are compromised is with standard intelligence procedures. You MUST start with the premise that your codes are not impenetrable. If you don't accept that your codes might be broken then you are much less likely to be rigorous in your procedures to establish their security. It wasn't just the Germans who fell foul of this during WW2.

    Despite the best efforts of the allies to ensure that they didn't give away their access into German codes and the fairly limited access to the ULTRA decrypts, they did in fact give the Germans plenty of clues, the Germans just weren't looking for them.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
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  15. swampyankee

    swampyankee Active Member

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    In just about all the histories of Enigma I've read, the consensus was that the Germans communications people though it was unbreakable, so they didn't check. The KM may have thought differently, which is why they added a 4th wheel, but nothing I've seen indicates that that the Germans had any kind of "white hat hackers" trying to break Enigma.

    Of course, even without breaking Enigma, the a critical part of the Battle of the Atlantic was not code-breaking, but direction finding. When Dönitz decided on wolfpacks, he drove radio traffic from U-boats up. Every time one transmitted, it gave the ASW forces a datum, and when the Allies had air superiority, that meant that those U-boats could be targeted in fairly short order.
     
  16. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    Allied countermeasures were also pretty good, and during the war, and the germans did initiate several comprehensive investigations as to the security of ENIGMA. The most famous of these was Doenitz's investigations after receiving several disturbing reports from his command.

    He was not the only one, and quite a few Germans had their had suspicions that all was not right with Enigma. Returning to Admiral Doenitz received reports of "impossible" encounters between U-boats and enemy vessels which made him suspect some compromise of his communications. In one instance, three U-boats met at a tiny island in the Caribbean Sea, and a British destroyer promptly showed up. The U-boats escaped and reported what had happened. Doenitz immediately asked for a review of Enigma's security. The analysis suggested that the signals problem, if there was one, was not due to the Enigma itself. Doenitz had the settings book changed anyway, blacking out Bletchley Park for a period. However, the evidence was never enough to truly convince him that Naval Enigma was being read by the Allies. The more so, since B-Dienst, his own codebreaking group, had partially broken Royal Navy traffic (including its convoy codes early in the war), and supplied enough information to support the idea that the Allies were unable to read Naval Enigma. This was directly the result of RN security procedures, they were very careful not to expose this vital intell the possibility of detection

    Despite several close calls, whenever the germans started any serious enquiry, the British were lucky that the germans always seemed to draw the wrong conclusions. i suspect that the traitor Canaris and head of the Abwehr may have had something to do with this, though he could not have known that ENIGMA was broken. On several occasions British countertmeasures also helped to deceive the Germans.
     
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  17. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Doenitz and others were repeatedly told that enigma codes were unbreakable. In fact this had more than an element of truth in it. It was the German use of the machines, what might be called procedural flaws or errors, and the capture of various code books, that gave the British a way in.

    'Dolphin' was only broken after the British had captured documents from U-Boats and a weather ship. Around the end of May 1941 the British were reading 'Dolphin'. Doenitz did become suspicious but it wasn't until February 1942 that new code books and the more complex M4 machine were introduced. This was the new 'Triton' code ('Shark' to the British). It took ten months before the British broke into this code. The principal reason was the attack on Kapitänleutnant Hans Heidtmann's U-559 by the British destroyer HMS Petard on 30 October 1942. After taking heavy fire from HMS Petard, the sinking U-boat was boarded by three British sailors. They managed to get the Enigma code books and the new edition of the Wetterkurzschlussel (weather short signal code) books. They did not capture the M4 machine though two men lost their lives trying to get it.
    Incidentally, despite having a 4 rotor M4 machine on a U-boat the short weather signals were sent using the old M3 mode (the fourth rotor in A position with ring setting A). This was not poor procedure but in order to remain compatible with the 3 rotor M3 machines still used on weather ships. This saved the British a lot of time and very soon (I'm not going to type the whole story here) they were reading 'Triton' "continuously", meaning that the code was totally compromised.

    There is an important side story here re Hollywood history. Bletchley Park wasn't helped in breaking the codes by captured enigma machines. In fact the M4 machine was 'worked out' from analysis of decrypted messages and captured code books, a sort of blind reverse engineering. The British were after the code books not the machines. This is illustrated by the fact that when a new edition of the Wetterkurzschlussel came into service in March 1943, the seized U-559 Wetterkurzschlussel became useless, resulting in a new black-out. Fortunately, the Kurzsignalheft code book, also recovered from U-559, provided new ways to find cribs in U-boat short-signals and enabled the code breakers to re-enter 'Shark' after nine days. Except for some brief periods, the code breakers never lost 'Shark' again.

    (The Kriegsmarine converted default tactical expressions with a code table, called Kurzsignalheft, before enciphering them with Enigma. There are many reasons why this seems like a good idea but in fact the use of Kurzsignale resulted into recognizable patterns in the Enigma messages. For example, a convoy, nearing a U-boat, would probably evoke a contact message. An airplane, spotting a U-boat, would result in a airplane contact message. Repetition or pattern is a code breakers dream come true.)

    Everyone remembers a few names from Bletchley Park but it is often forgotten that more than 7,000 people were employed by it at its peak. It was a massive effort and one that whilst not ensuring victory in the Atlantic certainly made it a much less close run thing than some (Churchill) would have us believe that it was.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
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  18. pbehn

    pbehn Well-Known Member

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    If memory serves the weather ship (s) were targeted because they must set off with next months codes in advance, they had to be captured without sending a distress signal.
     
  19. v2

    v2 Well-Known Member

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    An elegant monument in Poznan to the three Polish mathematicians who REALLY broke the Enigma code.
     

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  20. Wurger

    Wurger Siggy Master
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    Great !!! :cool:

    :salute:
     
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