mrabarnett at mrabarnett.plus.com
Thu Feb 11 19:24:32 CET 2010
Paul Rubin wrote:
> Gregory Ewing <greg.ewing at canterbury.ac.nz> writes:
>> Actually I gather it had a lot to do with the fact that the Germans
>> made some blunders in the way they used the Enigma that seriously
>> compromised its security. There was reportedly a branch of the German
>> forces that used their Enigmas differently, avoiding those mistakes,
>> and the British never managed to crack any of their messages.
> I think you are thinking of the Kriegsmarine (naval) Enigma. Yes they
> were more careful with procedures, but the machine was also harder to
> crack because it had four rotors instead of three. IIRC, the Brits were
> eventually (1942?) able to capture one by shooting up a German submarine
> and boarding it to get the machine while the sub was sinking; a British
> sailor wasn't able to get out in time and drowned during that operation.
> Getting the rotor settings off the captured unit (they may have had to
> do it more than once) was enough to get a foothold into the code. My
> memory is hazy on this by now so I may have some parts wrong, but David
> Kahn's book "Seizing the Enigma" tells the story (I read it many years
> ago). A fictionalized version appears in Neil Stephenson's novel
U-559? I think that's the one where Hollywood made a film about it, but
portraying it as a purely American action. That didn't go down too well
in the UK!
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