BERLIN: On Friday, German fishermen who recently fished an Enigma cypher machine out of the Baltic Sea, used by the Nazis during World War II to send secret messages, handed over their unusual discoveries to a museum for preservation.
Last month, during a hunt for discarded fishing nets in the Bay of Gelting in Northeast Germany, the mythical code machine was found by divers assigned to the WWF environmental community. Florian Huber, the lead diver, told the DPA news agency, “A colleague swam up and said there’s a net there with an old typewriter in it.”
The team learned immediately that they had come upon a historic item and alerted the authorities.
Ulf Ickerodt, director of the state archaeological office in the Schleswig-Holstein region of Germany, said that specialists at the state archaeological museum would rebuild the machine.
The critical process, including a comprehensive desalination process in the Baltic seafloor after seven decades, “will take about a year,” he said. The Enigma will go on display at the museum after that.
In the final days of the battle, naval historian Jann Witt of the German Naval Association told DPA that he assumes that the machine, which has three rotors, was tossed overboard by a German warship. It is less likely that it emerged from a scuttled submarine, he added, since the more sophisticated four-rotor Enigma machines were used by Adolf Hitler’s submarines.
The Allied forces worked tirelessly to decrypt the codes that were changed every 24 hours produced by the Enigma machine.
Considered the father of modern computing, British mathematician Alan Turing spearheaded a team at Britain’s Bletchley Park that cracked the code in 1941.
The breakthrough helped the Allies decode key radio signals regarding German military movements.