The sea rose a piece of ‘encrypted’ history


  • The depths of the Baltic Sea, the arm of the North Atlantic Ocean between the Scandinavian peninsula and the countries of mainland northern and central Europe, have discovered an ‘Enigma’ encryption machine that was used by Nazi Germany to encode secret messages during World War II.
  • The divers made the discovery while searching the seabed using a sonar device for abandoned fishing nets that can be harmful for sea life.


Significance of Enigma

  • The Enigma machine was invented by the German engineer Arthur Scherbius towards the end of World War I. 
  • While several different Enigma models were produced, the German military models that had a plugboard are believed to have been the most complex.
  • During World War II, the military of Nazi Germany used the encryption machine to transmit messages in code
  • The machine allowed for billions of ways to encode a message, and the Allied militaries and intelligence services found it extremely challenging to break the code of intercepted messages.
  • By 1932, Polish cryptanalysts were able to decode German ciphers that had been written with an earlier version of Enigma. 
  • The Poles shared the information with the French and British intelligence services before World War II. 
  • The Germans were subsequently able to produce more sophisticated machines, which made it difficult to crack the code.
  • The Poles also built electro-mechanical machines to search for solutions by simulating the workings of an Enigma machine. These calculated the numerous possibilities through different settings.
  • The findings of the Polish mathematicians helped the English mathematician Alan Turing to develop his ‘bombe’ machine that made the use of “cribs”, using assumed or known parts of the message as a starting point, to break Enigma-encrypted machines.
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