• FA-112725 © Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
Collection Area
Information & Communication
Data Processing
medien.welten (media.worlds)
1930 - 1939

Enigma Radio encoding machine

Chiffriermaschinen AG, Berlin 1933




The radio communication of the German army in World War II, which is encrypted by the Enigma cipher machine, can soon be decrypted and evaluated by the allied forces. 

In order to prevent the enemy intelligence from intercepting radio communication, the communication is encrypted. For this purpose, the German army uses the Enigma cipher machine, where the letters of the plaintext are entered in the same way as with a typewriter. Using three electrically powered cylinders, the machine converts the text into ciphers. The ciphers are transmitted and subsequently decrypted by the recipient using another Enigma with the same settings.

Although the Enigma generates an astronomical amount of encryption possibilities, the allied forces manage to decrypt the German radio communication. After the young Polish mathematician Marian Rejewski first broke Enigma's ciphers before the start of the war, it is the British who, in 1939, operate a secret decryption centre in Bletchley Park. From 1941 onwards, centres are also set up in North America. From then on, communication interception stations all around the world intercept, record, decrypt and evaluate German radio communication – including execution lists of the SS firing squads, who are murdering Jews and supposed partisans in their thousands.

Inv.Nr. 33304/1
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