Talk:Enigma machine

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Enigma machine is a former featured article. Please see the links under Article milestones below for its original nomination page (for older articles, check the nomination archive) and why it was removed.
This article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page as Today's featured article on October 13, 2004.
Article milestones
July 31, 2004Featured article candidatePromoted
May 12, 2009Featured article reviewDemoted
Current status: Former featured article
Stock post message.svg To-do list for Enigma machine: edit·history·watch·refresh· Updated 2006-01-27

  • Overview the various indicator procedures (now covered: pre WW2 procedure and WW2 wehrmacht/luftwaffe) Any other know procedure welcome
  • Expand subsections on Enigma components in "Description" section
  • Add inline references
Priority 2

External linksEdit

I added two additional external links: Cipher Machines & Cryptology and Frode's Crypto Cellar I also want to add two other links that are generally recognized as valuable reference information Tony Sale's Code and Ciphers and The Bletchley Park Trust I suggest to change the link to ellsbury's rotor wirings into the main page: Ellsbury's Enigma and the Bombe which brings a view onto much more information that the few rotor details, already added to wiki in the rotor details spin-off. Any comments pro/contra on all links, mentioned above, welcome... Dirk (talk) 17:36, 2 November 2008 (UTC)

As I have understood it is decided that no simulator links shall be found on this page (as on may other cipher/crypto pages). Would it be ok to mention in the Reference list that Cipher Machines & Cryptology has a good simulator? I guess that quite alot of the people reading about Enigmas would like to try one out.Skarek (talk) 10:58, 18 January 2009 (UTC)

Clarification requestEdit

The following sentence, "During World War II codebooks were used only to set up the rotors and ring settings.", in the paragraph starting with "During World War II" in the Indicators section is unclear to me. I think the intention is to say, "During World War II codebooks were only used to set up the initial rotor settings each day." I may have misunderstood what is meant here, but if so then I am probably not the only one. So I ask whoever is knowledgeable on this topic to clarify it. Soler97 (talk) 10:56, 11 November 2008 (UTC)

During WW2 the Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe no longer used an initial setting. Each day, a new rotor combination, ring setting of those rotors and plugboard setting was given in the key sheet. There was no longer an initial setting (message key or ) since the operator selected a random message key, which was enciphered with a random start position. Naval procedures do had a startposition, the Grundstellung, but had a totally different use for them. More here: [1]. I will change that sentence into: "During World War II codebooks were only used each day to set up the rotors, their ring settings and the plugboard.". Does it make it clearer?Dirk (talk) 15:19, 11 November 2008 (UTC)
Much better. Thanks. However, I am still a bit unclear on one point. My understanding is that the codebooks gave the initial settings of the Enigma, which were then changed for each message sent that day. If this is correct then please change the sentence to spell this out for people like me, who like things to be laid totally bare. Soler97 (talk) 03:03, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
Not quiet. The internal settings and the plugboard are not the 'initial settings'. The internal settings (choice of rotors, rings and plugboard) were the same all day long, and of course set according to the key sheet. For each message anothe 'intitial' startposition for the rotors was selected.Dirk (talk) 17:57, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
Could you spell out what exactly the codesheets specified? Are the ring settings and start position of the rotors the same thing? Was the plugboard rewired each day? Soler97 (talk) 02:28, 15 November 2008 (UTC)
The Wehrmacht code sheets contained the selected rotors, the ring setting of the rotors and the plugboard. The ring setting (ringstellung) was NOT the startposition, but the relative position between the internal wiring of the rotor and the alphabet ring with its notch. More details about the rotors on this page The 'start position' or initial start position you are refering to is the actual message key, that is at which letter the rotor was turned at the beginning of the message, and was different to each message. This rotorposition was set manually on the exterior of the machine (and changed the letter in the little window). Wehrmacht, Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine changed the plugboard each day. The internal settings (rotor selection and ring setting) were changed each day at Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe and changed every two days at the Kriegsmarine. On this page you can view some examples of key sheets. So: Internal settings: the selected rotors and their ring setting - in some cases also the reflector - changed every one or two days. External settings: The plugboard wiring (changed every day) and the rotor position (changed every message).Dirk (talk) 12:04, 15 November 2008 (UTC)

Part of code-breaking of text is to search for clichés that give 'free' letters. Many Nazi messages sent by non-professionals started or ended with "Heil Hitler!" or "Sieg heil!" in code, either of which offered critical letters for decoding, was about as much cliché as was possible. Such demonstrated loyalty to the Nazi cause -- but also breached the quality of coding. Letters e, i, l, r, s, and t are all very common in German and give away much of the structure of words in the message. Pbrower2a (talk) 10:17, 25 February 2013 (UTC)


I have reverted the edit that ascribes the invention of Enigma to Hugo Koch as this is contentious. See for example [2] which says "Many historians have erred in giving credit for the Enigma cipher machine of World War II famed to Hugo Koch and not to the rightful inventor, Arthur Scherbius." and goes on to give substantial evidence in support. TedColes (talk) 05:46, 24 November 2008 (UTC)

Good catch (and I don't even think it's contentious, in that much earlier writing on Enigma just got a lot of facts wrong, and they've since been corrected.) — Matt Crypto 16:59, 30 November 2008 (UTC)
The idea to use clear text for ciphering belongs to Edward Hebern - US Pat. 1,086,823 filed June 3, 1912 granted Feb. 10, 1914. By 1915 Hebern creates a number of non-rotor ciphering machines (5 patents). In 1915 he connected two electric typewriters by 26 wires (the number of letters in the alphabet). Modifying the typewriter in 1917 he created the first drawings to change the connection mechanically using a rotor. The Hebern single rotor ciphering machine can be seen in the NSA museum. This information is given in relation to the U.S. Patent Office Interference 77716 and can be found in the books Bauer F. L., - "Decrypted Secrets: Methods and Maxims of Cryptography", Springer, 1997 and de Leeuw K. and Bergstra J., - "The History of Information Security: A Comprehensive Handbook", Elsevier, 2007

Scherbius (German), Koch(Dutch) and Damm(Swedish) are second, third and fourth. In 1924 the company of Scherbius buys the Koch patent. So, please check the info and correct your record. Vebar (talk) 01:02, 25 May 2017 (UTC)


Should this movie go in the references? I remember it was part of the movie, recovering a machine, but I havn't seen it in years and can't remember if it really is a major part of the movie. Cs302b (talk) 01:20, 30 November 2008 (UTC)

I haven't watched it for a while either, but I reckon a brief mention would be OK. — Matt Crypto 16:56, 30 November 2008 (UTC)
If this movie is mentioned, it would please people on the eastern side of the Atlantic if there was mention that Hollywood distorted a real event by setting it in 1942 with US Navy personnel. As the Wikpedia article says (U-571 (film)) "The film's plot, though a work of fiction, is partly based on real events. It attracted criticism for two reasons: first, it was British personnel from HMS Bulldog who first captured a naval Enigma machine, from U-110 in the North Atlantic May 1941, before the United States entered the war. Second, German U-boat crews were portrayed in a negative light." TedColes (talk) 18:05, 1 December 2008 (UTC)
Unless the movie claims to portray reality, is the disclaimer necessary? (talk) 01:00, 31 July 2009 (UTC)

Admittedly the dividing line between fact and fiction is increasingly being blurred these days, but it is relevant to read one review of this film which says:

If you believe U-571, Jonathan Mostow's submarine action romp set in the murky depths of World War II, the Americans were instrumental in the capture of the Enigma coding devices, used by the Germans to encrypt top secret messages.

The British barely feature in the war effort - it was the good ole Yankee boys leading the way, teaching Hitler a lesson or two with some well-placed torpedoes (the end credits reveal that it was in fact the Brits who captured the Enigma machines and ultimately deciphered the code. Fancy that!).

Such glaring lapses in historical accuracy litter Mostow's film, which throws all character and plot development overboard within the first five minutes and goes full steam ahead for sustained action.

I still think it appropriate to avoid the possibility of giving offence in this way.--TedColes (talk) 07:57, 31 July 2009 (UTC)

Maybe, though I'd be more inclined just to mention that the film exists and is based on capturing an Enigma...if a reader wants to find out more, then they can read the full article on U-571, and find out about the inaccuracies there. — Matt Crypto 08:18, 31 July 2009 (UTC)


A new image that may be of some interest: commons:Image:Bundesarchiv Bild 183-2007-0705-502, Chiffriermaschine "Enigma".jpg - a 1943 German photograph of a machine. Shimgray | talk | 19:06, 5 December 2008 (UTC)

there is a new High resolution image of the Enigma machine which I think is better than image currently in use. Slavomir.Freso (talk) 09:06, 14 April 2011 (UTC)
It may be of a higher resolution, but it doesn't show the plugboard as well as the existing one. --TedColes (talk) 11:23, 14 April 2011 (UTC)
Ugh. The low res gives a better view of plugboard and has better composition, but the high res allows one to read the instructions. I'd give them equal rank. The article already has a pix of the plugboard. I'm torn. Use both? Glrx (talk) 15:33, 14 April 2011 (UTC)
My preference would be for the existing one. Those who can read German and wish to, can find the hi-res picture in Wikimedia Commons. --TedColes (talk) 15:43, 14 April 2011 (UTC)

Scherbius and Koch discussionEdit

I'm not Dutch, but the changes you guys made - deleting Koch - are based on poor historic research and taking for granted just any source. Karl de Leeuw, a Dutch historian already in 2003 proved that the Enigma was invented by two Dutch navy officers, Spengler and van Hengel. Koch, who was working together with Scherbius. There is no doubt about the solid research and sources of this work of historian de Leeuw, which was published in Cryptologia. His work is acknowledged and confirmed by other historians. I understand that some people are a bit bitten in the **** that their version is fiction, and I understand their err. In those days, the patenting of such machines was a very obscure thing, played in the world of intellingence secrets. More here. Do whatever you want with it, but base your actions (deleting/adding stories) on the work and sources of historians, and don't base them on an opinion. Karl de Leeuw on the invention of the Enigma Dirk (talk) 15:37, 19 December 2008 (UTC)

Indeed, Spengler and van Hengel are now known to have come up with the first rotor machines (as far as we know), but that doesn't mean they invented Enigma, which was a specific family of rotor machines. A corrective article on the history of Koch, Scherbius and Enigma was published in Cryptologia also, see [3]. — Matt Crypto 21:19, 19 December 2008 (UTC)
Hi Matt, the article you mention is from 1999, the cryptologia article that explains the invention of that machine is from 2003! That later article is a correction of the 1999 article, not the other way around! They did invent the machine. Of course, it was scherbius that named it Enigma, but who named it how is not the discussion. The simple fact is that the machine that was later called Enigma is invented by the two Dutch naval officers. No more no less. Saying that Scherbius made the Enigma is the same as commercialising a DW (Disk with Music) but actually produce a CD. It's not becaus you gave it a name that you invented it. (talk) 12:14, 20 December 2008 (UTC)
De Leeuw's paper does not at all, as I read it, claim that Spengler and van Hengel invented Enigma, but rather that they were the first known inventors of a rotor machine. In that sense, they no more invented Enigma than they invented (say) Fialka, SIGABA and KL-7. All these machines are far from being merely rebranded carbon copies of the earliest rotor machines; nor was Enigma, which had a number of patents filed about its specifics. — Matt Crypto 17:46, 20 December 2008 (UTC)


I just wondered about the various contry/language specific articles on Enigma, in particular the editing-policy thereof. being myself a german engineer I found that the german page is somewhat quick to remove edits, while the same edits are easily accepted in the other languages for their significance. So do not miss the version checks on wikipedia !


Every unclassified source I am familiar with has indicated that the steckerboard added very little additional cryptographic strength. (talk) 23:59, 8 June 2009 (UTC)

What sources are you reading? — Matt Crypto 06:18, 9 June 2009 (UTC)

The plug board added a huge amount of cryptographic strength. There are a total of 150,738,274,937,250 ways to arrange it! — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:32, 3 August 2011 (UTC)

The fact that the plugboard can be plugged in an astronimical number of ways does not necessarily mean that it adds any significant cryptographic strength to the overall system. The Poles themselves realised very quickly that the plug board did not affect their ability to find potential machine settings from the double indicator. Once a potential key setting was found, the plugboard merely turned the otherwise legible German into a partial simple substitution cypher. A simple substitution cypher is virtually child's play to analyse. The Germans continued to hold the view that the plugboard would severely hamper analysis of the machine, precisely because it would disguise a successful attempt by not immediately revealing readable German. The reality was, because of the Poles' realisation of its effects, that it was hardly any impediment at all.
One of the frustrations of cryptoanalysis is that there is absolutely no sense of being close to finding the solution. You either have the answer - or you don't. The idea behind the plugboard was that if the code breakers thought they might have a solution, the fact that they were not reading German would make them believe that they had not got the solution after all. The reality was that the code breakers already knew that the text they were looking for was German encyphered by a simple substitution cypher (the plugboard) which negated the security it was meant to provide. The addition of more plugboard leads was to disguise the plain text more effectively. The basic idea of adding a cryptographically very weak substitution cypher (something no military grade cypher system would normally consider) on top of a cryptographically strong system like Enigma might have succeeded in delaying or preventing its analysis had it not been rumbled so early on. The fact that it was only a partial substitution made it stand out. Had the Germans used 13 plugboard leads right from the start, things may have been very different. DieSwartzPunkt (talk) 13:20, 21 June 2013 (UTC)
I'll second DSP; the plugboard was an illusion of security. The Poles developed techniques that basically ignored the plugboard and the ring settings were only a slight inconvenience. In 1935, the Poles, could break a plugboard Enigma in 15 minutes. How much security could it add? The number of permutations may be large, but that doesn't necessarily make the solution difficult. Glrx (talk) 19:41, 21 June 2013 (UTC)


Where is missing information about that Poles first broke the Enigma? --DumnyPolak (talk) 01:04, 12 June 2009 (UTC)

Cryptanalysis of the Enigma; this article is focused on the machine itself, not the history of its solution. — Matt Crypto 15:04, 12 June 2009 (UTC)
I think the information that the code was broken and by whom is quote important. For your reference, a recent BBC article on the role of Polish mathematicians in breaking the Enigma code: [4] --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk 18:23, 24 July 2009 (UTC)
Thanks for the reference, although you might recall I'm already fairly well acquainted with the Polish mathematicians' role in breaking Enigma, and I'm enthusiastic that they get the recognition they deserve (for example, I helped get Marian Rejewski to Featured status in part for that reason). My argument here would simply be that there was a lot of history of breaking various Enigma systems by different nationalities, in different times and places -- Poles, French, British, Americans -- and that this colourful history might be better treated in detail in a separate article. — Matt Crypto 19:56, 24 July 2009 (UTC)
History is very simple, in 1932 three Polish mathematicians for the first time managed to decipher enigma and shared their results with the French and British intelligence service, where works on this machine were continued. I think that you are omitting the most essential fragments of history. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:50, 11 September 2009 (UTC) different times and places -- Poles, French, British, Americans

Americans? What had to do Americans with Enigma? Probably a Hollywood science fiction films about this machine like britisch film ENIGMA with Kate Winslet :-)) - Markus —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:27, 11 September 2009 (UTC)

They made lots of fast bombes, for a start. — Matt Crypto 14:47, 11 September 2009 (UTC)

but the bombes were a British invention (Fdsdh1 (talk) 12:55, 9 December 2012 (UTC))

The bombes were indeed a British invention by Alan Turing with an important addition by Gordon Welchman, probably inspired by the Polish bomba kryptologiczna. The Americans made almost all of the fast bombes used in implementing Turing's methods for decrypting messages from the four-rotor naval Enigma. --TedColes (talk) 14:11, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
There is terrible mess and the mistake. The proper name is cryptological bomb, and it was invented by Różycki, Rejewski, Zygalski team and gifted to British and French intelligence, fully working devices. British including Turing were adopting the cryptological bomb to increasing complication of Enigma internals, mostly by adding additional segments as German were adding elements into enigma, and make them work faster by use of electrical motors etc. Just like RAM is added to a PC, first PCs have 640KB and nowadays 16GB, but you can't say that by adding new modules a RAM has been reinvented, as somebody has invented this already before. Turing was using mathematical theories invented and developed by above mentioned Polish team, first of all because he was bright enough to understand it. The rules and essentials has not been changed, only the level of complexity was increasing, what caused much more possible combinations and hence required much more (complex and faster) devices to break it, so British were doing this. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:40, 24 June 2013 (UTC)
The articles Cryptanalysis of the Enigma and Biuro Szyfrów describe the pioneering Polish work on the breaking of Enigma. As far as I am aware, these article accurately reflect the published literature. The recent edits by an anonymous editor differ from the published sources. If that editor has better evidence, that should be cited, preferably in the other two articles with, perhaps, a brief reference in this article – which is primarily about the machines themselves.--TedColes (talk) 07:16, 25 June 2013 (UTC)
I disagree with you. Because this Enigma machine, breaking the code by Polish, and continuation of their work in Bletchley Park was the reason Nazists has lost the WWII and our world is in the shape we know it. Therefore this facts must not be omitted. Of course a separate article can be reasonable (I think I will do it in the nearest free time). Anyway consequences of breaking code are equally (or even more) important then technical details. Problem with sources implies from fact that that was one of most top secret of WWII, without it Germans would change and it would be meaningless. So in many sources this facts are omitted not because POV but because many authors are not aware of real true, as it was long time hidden as deeply as possible. After WWII Poland were "silently occupied" by Soviet Union and in this situation alive Enigma codebreakers had to keep silence if they wanted not to be sentenced to death for cooperation with "Western Imperialists" or lost their life in any other way by "unknown assassins" from KGB. And for a long time after war truth about Enigma was top secret still. For many, many reasons: eg. Churchill was aware London is to be bombed, with details were when - but could not take countermeasures without compromising the source - broken Enigma code. And also there were several other big war operations which were influenced by Enigma, I think making a list of them may change understanding of "what&why" in some parts of WWII. Also US were benefiting for some intelligence info, but the source were never unveiled. That, to keep broken Enigma code in secret, cost British many lifes lost, but has saved other lifes and was the most essential reason of victory in WWII - Churchill has admitted this. Polish were aware of this from the beginning before WWII has broke out, that is why they passed this to French and British (who were not believe that time that Polish has broken Enigma code) - they were aware the time is coming. Hitler has lost WWII when Enigma was broken, in 1932.
My point is that this article ought to be balanced as for many readers this will be basic source of knowledge about Enigma case. Hence technical details are not the only important things about it. Of course they are important and well written - but this is not enough. Rule of reasonable compromise. The sources is a question of spare/free time I will have. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:39, 25 June 2013 (UTC)
There is no evidence that the breaking of Enigma (and Lorenz) is the reason that Germany lost the war. There are many factors to consider. The view that is most widely held is that the Bletchley codebreakers probably shortened the war by two years. That is all that can be said. It cannot be stated with any certainty who the victor would have been had the war followed its course. Germany may well have succeeded in developing the atomic bomb or may have succeeded in perfecting their long range ballistic missiles (designed to take the war to America). Someone may have succeeded in assasinating Hitler ending the war by another route. No one is in any position to second guess how things would have turned out but for the activities of Bletchley Park and others. DieSwartzPunkt (talk) 10:08, 26 June 2013 (UTC)
It has to be noted that although both the Poles and British employed machines known as Bombes (regardless of how they spelt or pronounced them), the two machines although they operated on the same basic principle, in fact operated in very different ways. The Polish machine exploited a procedural flaw in the way the Enigma machine was used, the double encryption of the individual message key where the machine searched for rotor settings where the transmitted six letter group decrypted to a repeated three letter group. The setting was not unique for any transmitted group, so it was necesary to try each possiblility as it was found.
The British machines would not have been able to operate this way as the double encryption had been abandoned before their bombes had been developed. Instead, the British machines exploited two systematic flaws that had been discovered in the way that the enigma worked coupled with a procedural flaw in the way it was used. The first systematic flaw was known from when the Poles first intercepted the commercial Enigma back in 1929. It was immediately known that Enigma would never encrypt any letter as itself. The procedural flaw was that German operators resorted to using jargon when assembling their messages. This allowed the codebreakers to engineer a situation for the signal units to report which they would do with predictable phrases and wording (this was known as "gardening"). The British were able to compare the received message with the megssage that they predicted the Gemans would send. If they found an alignment where none of the letters matched, then there was more than a sporting chance that the received message was the encrypted version of the plain text.
Through examination of these messages, the British had noticed that the Enigma was exhibiting a phenomenon dubbed as circular encryption (the second systematic flaw). In a fragment of message, when the plain text is compared to the cypher text, it was found that (say) a 'G' was encrypted as a 'T' at one point in the text. Later in the same fragment a 'T' was encrypted as a 'G'. Although such a feature was a possibility in any message fragment, the British realised that it occured vastly more frequently than probability dictated that it should have done. Another example of this circular encryption is where (say) a 'K' would be encrypted as a 'D'. Further on a 'D' would be encrypted as a 'S'. Further still an 'S' was encrypted as a 'K', giving a circle of three. The larger circles were preferred because although their occurence were a little rarer they significantly reduced the possible settings where the bombe would report a viable setting. As the codebreakers examined messages they looked for these relationships over a number of messages from the same theatre. These relationships were used to produce a 'menu' for the bombes. What the bombes then did was search for those rotor positions where all the circular encryptions found in the messages were possible. To be strictly accurate, Turring's view on what the bombes did was to eliminate all the rotor positions and settings that would not produce all the found circular encryptions. As each possibility was found, it was tested on a British Type X machine (a machine functionally the same as an Enigma that printed its output on paper tape). Once the minor inconvenience of the plugboard was circumvented and German was printed out, all the other messages from the same theatre (which used the same settings) could then be decrypted. DieSwartzPunkt (talk) 11:14, 25 June 2013 (UTC)

Please see also my comment under "Polish Contribution" in this talk page. (talk) 19:05, 20 July 2013 (UTC)

The second paragraph is poorly written, and here's why:Edit

It presently reads as follows:

  • The machine has become well-known because Allied codebreakers were able to decrypt a vast number of messages which had been enciphered using the Enigma. The intelligence gleaned from this source, codenamed ULTRA by the British, was a substantial aid to the Allied war effort. The exact influence of ULTRA is debated, but an oft-repeated assessment is that decryption of German ciphers hastened the end of the European war by two years.

WHAT source??? The second sentence practically contridicts the first sentence because the way it's presently written, no mention has yet been made of the fact that Enigma eventually did fall into Allied hands. It's true that it's mentioned later in the body of the article, but that doesn't alleviate the fact that these sentences don't make sense in their present form. The words this source (emphasis added by me) do not reference what the source is/was. I suggest that between the 1st and 2nd sentences, another on should be added, one that would read, "That changed, however, when Allied forces captured an Enigma machine from the Germans, providing a valuable source of previously secret/classified information to Allied leaders . . . " or words to that effect. Please forgive me if I've added this new topic of discussion incorrectly; I still haven't figured out the procedure, and no one has ever responded to my repeated requests for assistance. Magnet For Knowledge (talk) 03:41, 27 June 2009 (UTC)

Allied reading did not begin "when Allied forces captured an Enigma machine from the Germans." It began seven years before the war, when the Poles first reconstructed the machine on the basis of mathematical analysis and French-supplied intelligence materials. See "Biuro Szyfrów" and "Cryptanalysis of the Enigma." Nihil novi (talk) 04:48, 27 June 2009 (UTC)
You started the discussion topic just fine. Feel free to drop me a message on my talk page if you've got any questions about editing procedure, or there's the Wikipedia:Help desk. As Nihil novi has pointed out, the decryption of Enigma was not initially a result of capturing a physical device, but of logical and mathematical analysis. (Seizing a physical Naval Enigma did help Bletchley Park in World War II, as the Navy variant had additional security features.) So I don't feel there's any problem with the word "source" as it stands. — Matt Crypto 15:08, 27 June 2009 (UTC)

Please see also my comment under "Polish Contribution" in this talk page. (talk) 19:05, 20 July 2013 (UTC)

The following must be wrong (under Indicators)Edit

There is no secret in the following procedure, so an attacker only needs a machine. Somehow there must be a daily code incorporated into the procedure.

During World War II, codebooks were only used each day to set up the rotors, their ring settings and the plugboard. For each message, the operator selected a random start position, let's say WZA, and a random message key, perhaps SXT. He moved the rotors to the WZA start position and encoded the message key SXT. Assume the result was UHL. He then set up the message key, SXT, as the start position and encrypted the message. Next, he transmitted the start position, WZA, the encoded message key, UHL, and then the ciphertext.

Tuntable (talk) 00:31, 30 July 2009 (UTC)

The secret was "the rotors, their ring settings and the plugboard". — Matt Crypto 07:20, 30 July 2009 (UTC)

Computerramjet (talk) 20:19, 4 January 2015 (UTC)

I stumbled with this as well. I found this site helpful in understanding the indicator procedure. At first, the idea of transmitting the random indicator setting in clear text seemed to be completely insecure, but as Tuntable states, the rotors, rings and plugboard are still secret so there is still a 'daily key' although with a shorter effective key length. However, since the random indicator is only used to encode a short random message key, it would make it harder to decipher the 'daily key', so maybe the shorter effective key length wasn't viewed as a problem. It would be nice if someone could clarify the indicator procedure and discuss the issues associated with transmitting the random indicator setting in clear text. Also, how did this new procedure impact the bombe? From what I understand the bombe required longer cribs to create loops in the menu. That wouldn't work for short random message keys, so did the bombe determine the daily key (without a global initial position) and the message key (initial setting), and then only the daily key would be used to decode other messages?

The setting used by hobbists from 1970-1985 to receive feeds from reuters, etc, was REDRUM. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:02, 23 April 2010 (UTC)


So how were the messages decoded (assuming one had the codebooks or equivalent)? There should be a bit more on the subject. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:27, 17 November 2009 (UTC)

Currently we have, "At the receiving end, the operation was reversed. The operator set the machine to the initial settings and typed in the first six letters of the message (XHTLOA). In this example, EINEIN emerged on the lamps. After moving his rotors to EIN, the receiving operator then typed in the rest of the ciphertext, deciphering the message." — Matt Crypto 16:18, 17 November 2009 (UTC)
Also see the article Cryptanalysis of the Enigma.--TedColes (talk) 06:22, 18 November 2009 (UTC)

Arthur ScherbiusEdit

Not an inventor. Just a patent owner. Vlsergey (talk) 01:10, 1 March 2010 (UTC)

An Error in the History of Rotor Encryption Devices? — Matt Crypto 06:59, 1 March 2010 (UTC)
There was much activity in and around the idea of mechanical cipher machines in the last year of WWI. Dutch officers, Koch, van Damm, Scherbius, and in the US Hebern. It seems to have been one of those ideas which were in the air. The light bulb was another, and so was the telephone. Clearly quite few folks had similar ideas. Unless there's some reason to believe one of them was copying from another, perhaps they all qualify as inventors? ww (talk) 21:41, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
Somewhat after the event I know: but in general the person credited as being the inventor of anything is the person whose name appears on the patent. For Enigma, that is Arthur Scherbius. Thomas Edison is often cited as America's greatest inventor because his name appears on numerous patents. The reality is that Edison invented absolutely nothing himself as he employed armies of scientists and engineers to invent things for him. Edison's name also appears on several US patents for inventions that were actually invented in Europe and were thus unknown in America when he took out the patent. DieSwartzPunkt (talk) 10:21, 26 June 2013 (UTC)

American involvementEdit

Editor Vumba is right in saying that American cryptographers were more focused on the Japanese codes than Enigma. By the time that the US joined WWII, the British at Bletchley park had worked out how to break most of the enigma ciphers. It is wrong, however, to say that US cryptos did not get involved. They had liaised with Bletchley Park before and soon had a contingent there. They ran one of the Bombe outstations and their naval bombes were of immense use to the whole Enigma-breaking activity.--TedColes (talk) 17:55, 8 April 2010 (UTC)

One cannot re-write history. The US certainly made great use of the information as did other (limited) allied commanders. But to say that the US had a major role is strictly nationalistic. Lets stay with the facts. If TedColes has specific references to add please do so.--Vumba (talk) 20:09, 12 April 2010 (UTC)

"But to say that the US had a major role is strictly nationalistic." No, not really, and it's well documented in the literature. If Ted doesn't point you in the right direction of reliable sources, I will if I can get half an hour to spare. (I'd also suggest that to question someone's motives as "nationalistic" is not really on.) — Matt Crypto 21:56, 12 April 2010 (UTC)
I think that the following quotations from A. P. Mahon in THE HISTORY OF HUT EIGHT1939 – 1945, which was written in 1945, makes the point of the importance of the American naval contribution to the decryption of a vast number of messages which had been enciphered using the Enigma. They relate to the situation in 1943.
p. 88:

Before attempting to assess the value of the contribution of Op-20-G, which was immense, and also the difficulties which arose, which were fairly numerous, it is essential to understand that they were very different from ourselves in their fundamental organization. They were second in the field and agreed, and kept to the agreement, to play second fiddle and so naturally the people they put into their German machine cryptography were not the best cryptographers they had, but rather efficient and intelligent organizers with cryptographic knowledge.

And p. 91:

The acceptance by Op-20-G of the principle of pooled bombe resources was a fairly slow one. … By the time the Second Front opened very close and efficient cooperation existed. Priorities of keys were decided at weekly meetings at which the U.S.N. representative was present and Op-20-G stuck most loyally to the priorities as laid down, running a vast number of Hut 6 jobs and enabling them to break keys which would have otherwise have remained unbroken. I think it is a considerable tribute to the good sense of all parties concerned, and most especially to Op-20-G who were in a somewhat irksome position, that relations were at all times extremely cordial and that it was possible to get so much work so efficiently done when the machinery had to be shared by 3 groups of people, each feeling at heart that their own particular problem was the one which really mattered.

For the US Army's considerable contribution, I would refer to: The US 6812 Division Bombe Report Eastcote 1944
--TedColes (talk) 09:41, 13 April 2010 (UTC)

Polish contributionEdit

Vumba says that 'the "Bomba" was a Polish decrypt machine later enhanced by the British.' I don't agree that this is a good reflection of the reality. Budiansky (2000), and others point out that Alan Turing developed the idea of a machine that the Bomba represented, but worked on an entirely different premise. To quote Budiansky:[1]

The Bomba had very limited applicability. It depended on there being three doubly enciphered indicators in which the same letter was repeated in all three; it also would work only if that repeated letter happened to be unsteckered, so its true identity was known. But with a text crib Turing at once saw that a series of Enigmas could be linked together in a different architecture to perform an automated search. And it would be an incredibly powerful method.

We do indeed "need to stay with the facts here".--TedColes (talk) 16:51, 12 April 2010 (UTC)

It is, perhaps, worth quoting Peter Calvocoressi, who became head of the Luftwaffe section in Hut 3, who wrote in commenting on the Polish contribution:

The one moot point is - how valuable? According to the best qualified judges it accelerated the breaking of Enigma by perhaps a year. The British did not adopt Polish techniques but they were enlightened by them.[2]


  1. ^ Budiansky, Stephen (2000), Battle of wits: The Complete Story of Codebreaking in World War II, Free Press, p. 127, ISBN 978-0684859323
  2. ^ Calvocoressi, Peter (23 March 1984), "Credit to the Poles", The Times, p. p. 13CS1 maint: extra text (link)

--TedColes (talk) 09:55, 13 April 2010 (UTC)

Not true. Without using Różycki, Rejewski, Zygalski techniques breaking cyphertext would not be possible, as those are mathemathical methodology. It can't be different. If it would be this would not be Enigma code. Just like for addition you must make operation of additing, and nothing else work for addition, no meter "how enlightened you would be". This is thanks to polish mathematical school (meaning group of intellectuals from Lvov (pol. Lwów) Lwów School of Mathematics and their works far forward then others that time eg. Banach, Hugo Steinhaus, Stanisław Mazur, Stanislaw Ulam. For this reason Turing was needed to understand this staff, common military personnel was not educated enough (or at all) in high mathematics. People don't like to admit they don't understand how it works - try yourself do you understand mathematical foundations of breaking Enigma codes? Quite well documented in Wikipedia even? It was easier to omit Polish contribution then to admit "we didn't understand what they were talking about", so Turing was a very good person as a genius to point him as inventor, but it is not true. British intelligence to admit that the most secret code of WWII was broken from 1932 by "wild Poles from somewhere wild place far far away"? And they didn't stop Hitler much sooner? How they would look? It was easier to omit Polish, and more beneficial. Second: for political reasons British wanted to avoid as only possible to show Poles for not to annoying Soviet Union, which were occupied Poland after Yalta pact.

(Previous Comment Unsigned)

As someone completely impartial to the article (this is my first time even reading it), I must say that the second introductory paragraph as of July 20th, 2013 is excessively redundant regarding the Polish contribution, and looks as though there may be some bias at work in editing by (which is, incidentally, a Polish IP address). It is also very long and too detailed for an introductory paragraph.

Comparing the two most recent major versions, it seems the older version (by Arthena) was more concise/appropriate for an encyclopedia. The edit by seems to add little of value. However, I'll leave reversion up to consensus. (talk) 18:55, 20 July 2013 (UTC)

For the Fiction Section - 'Allo 'AlloEdit

The Enigma Machine is used as a plot point in the latter half of Season 5 of the Popular Late '80s Early '90s British Sitcom 'Allo 'Allo. While the Actual Machine is not shown, it is mentioned in name between episodes #5.23 - #5.26 (and is Referenced in this Wikipedia Article) Thought it'd be a good addition to the section -- (talk) 16:16, 27 September 2010 (UTC)

Accuracy check: was Ultra only sourced from 'Axis' powers?Edit

R.e. this good faith edit [5] Can we be certain that non-'Axis' powers weren't a source of Ultra? I ask because (1) PC Bruno appears to have had dedicated Spanish and Russian sections, suggesting Spain and the U.S.S.R. may have been a source of Ultra and (2) 'Axis' has quite a specific definition of just Germany and Italy (the "Rome-Berlin Axis" ) until the Tripartite Pact of 1940 when Japan joined. I'd be surprised if there was no Japanese-sourced Ultra prior to Japan joining the Axis. (3) Are we sure there was no U.S.-derived Ultra 1939-1941? Thanks in advance, -Chumchum7 (talk) 18:55, 4 November 2010 (UTC)

I changed enemy to Axis to improve the point of view. The original enemy has the same problem -- Spain and Russia were not enemies. (I equate codeword Ultra to German codes/decrypts and codeword Magic to Japanese codes, but Ultra often refers to all codebreaking efforts.)
There was US derived Ultra before the US entered the war. OP-20-G was reading Japanese Blue Code (used until November 1938) in the 1930s. Information included the postmodernization characteristics of the Mitsu-class battleships. (Prados, Combined Fleet Decoded, page 79.) I would expect that to have been shared with the UK because they had interests in the Far East. OP-20-G had apparently made significant progress on the new code by October 1940. In late 1940, the Japanese introduced JN-25. (Prado, p 80.) OP-20-G could read many codes, and "thousands of these messages would be decoded before December 7, 1941, with Purple decrypts beginning to flow in September 1940." (Prados, p 165.)
The thrust of the paragraph, however, is about Ultra helping to win the war -- and that would emphasize the time when the war was actually being fought. Without German Naval decrypts, the Battle of the Atlantic could have been a much different story. The tag line on Kahn's Seizing the Enigma is "the race to break the german U-boat codes, 1939-1943". US involvement with Enigma began in 1940; a contingent arrived in Britain in late 1942. (Kahn, p 235.)
Glrx (talk) 20:10, 4 November 2010 (UTC)
Great answer. How about resting on "Winston Churchill said that Ultra, the product of the decryption of Enigma and other ciphers, was instrumental to the Allied victory in World War II" The reader still understands, and there's no risk of imprecision... -Chumchum7 (talk) 22:32, 4 November 2010 (UTC)
Or rather: "Winston Churchill said that Ultra, the decryption product of Enigma and other ciphers, was instrumental to the Allied victory in World War II" -Chumchum7 (talk) 22:37, 4 November 2010 (UTC)
Either sentence is OK. I'd lean toward saying, Winston Churchill said that Ultra, the decryption of Enigma and other ciphers and codes, was .... The term product, however, suggests that Ultra was the digested result of the decryption rather than the decryption itself; hence product may be more accurate. Glrx (talk) 00:29, 5 November 2010 (UTC)
Agreed and done.-Chumchum7 (talk) 07:25, 5 November 2010 (UTC)

Primary sourceEdit

Does anyone know of a primary source for the statement that: "Winston Churchill told Britain's King George VI after World War II: 'It was thanks to Ultra that we won the war.'"? The reference at [6] is only a secondary source. --TedColes (talk) 17:30, 5 November 2010 (UTC)

Very good question. Now I see why you used "reported" that triggered my WP:W2W concern (nothing to do with W2W - my snafu). That said, WP:V and WP:PSTS guidance indicates we should trust secondary sources. -Chumchum7 (talk) 17:42, 5 November 2010 (UTC)
The issue is not primary/secondary source but rather whether the source is WP:V and WP:RS. So the issue for the given reference is its reliability. Glrx (talk) 20:52, 5 November 2010 (UTC)
Perhaps the source does not even merit the title of "secondary source", maybe it is, in effect, tertiary by WP's criteria. I would be a lot happier if we had a better source. The best that I have seen relates it to an exhibit in 2003 on "Secret War" at the Imperial War Museum. I have e-mailed them asking if they have a source, but I'm not holding my breath. --TedColes (talk) 22:47, 5 November 2010 (UTC)
Good call. If you are UK taxpayer, they have to answer you. That museum is funded by you. -Chumchum7 (talk) 09:10, 6 November 2010 (UTC)
That said, personally I'm satisfied that the ref is a reliable secondary source per WP:RS.-Chumchum7 (talk) 09:13, 6 November 2010 (UTC)

The Secret War - BBC 1977 TV programmeEdit

There's an episode of the BBC television series The Secret War (based on the book Most Secret War by R.V. Jones) about the Enigma and Bletchley Park including interviews with some of the people involved, on YouTube here: [7] — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:18, 1 June 2011 (UTC)

Much of that episode is not entirely accurate. This is not a critisism of the programme makers because when the episode was made, the secret of Bletchley Park had only recently been revealed and much detail about how Enigma (and much less about Lorenz) was broken was still largely unknown. It was this particular secret that was the reason for the series being made. DieSwartzPunkt (talk) 10:28, 26 June 2013 (UTC)

Some detailsEdit

Aren't the recent edits of this section at variance with the guidelines about paragraph length in Wikipedia:Writing better articles#paragraphs? It has all become somewhat staccato. --TedColes (talk) 07:39, 12 July 2011 (UTC)

I think the section gains in clarity from the treatment of individual parts of the topic (the practices in individual branches of the German armed services) in separate paragraphs. The contrasts among their several approaches to similar problems become better-defined.
For me, clarity and ease of orientation trumps arbitrarily determined paragraph length. Nihil novi (talk) 08:42, 12 July 2011 (UTC)

Royal visit to Bletchley Park on 15 July 2011Edit

Yesterday the Queen of England unveiled a monument to the men who broke the Enigma Code. According to the material read out it was a group of British scientists who broke the code and the secret place they worked in the midlands was also shown. They also showed the machine they developed to continuously break codes, calling it "the first computer". It appears that this contradicts the article on Wikipedia about Enigma which states that the Poles broke Enigma after the 1st WW. Which of these is correct?Chrismort1 (talk) 06:48, 16 July 2011 (UTC)

Some press reports of this visit were inaccurate. The machines that contributed to decrypting Enigma messages were the Bombes. The reference to the first computer is to the Colossus computers that contributed to the decryption of the Lorenz SZ42. The Poles were indeed the first to 'break' the Enigma cipher in 1932/33, but breaking systems such as these is not a one-off activity, it requires repeated efforts to keep up with improvements. By the time Bletchley Park was opened, just before the start of WWII, the Poles were achieving very little success, but they gave their secrets to the British and French, which enabled full-scale decryption to resume after a few months. See: Dedication of Bletchley Park Memorial by HM the Queen, 15 July 2011 --TedColes (talk) 08:30, 16 July 2011 (UTC)
Queen is just following in good faith the official version convenient for "royal duties and glory". That was mistake and caused protests but they were not hear there. "Achieving very little success" by Polish intelligence mean that from 1932 till break of WWII they were reading all trade cyphertexts and most of military cyphertexts. Limitation was by the number of people employed for this - as the more people then the worse for keep the things in secret. Finally they were not decrypting all cyphertexts they have, but trying to select the most important. Remember those works required manual work and computers were not aviable that time. But that was enough of knowledge to make them to decide to make a gift of broken Enigma code, cryptological bomb, devices and all the theoretical stuff to both British and French intelligence before WWII and to destroy everything located in Poland what could show secret, whole complex including buildings, basemants etc. was blown up after evacuation, before Germans have entered. The secret was kept. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:31, 25 June 2013 (UTC)
The contribution made by the Poles should never be underestimated. Although the British cryptanalysts did have their own operation in attempting to break Enigma, it was for a long time, way behind the Polish efforts. When the Poles decided to hand over everything they had, the British found that surprise was not adequate to express what the the Poles had achieved. They were forced to resort to astonishment. Although the Poles had fallen behind by the time of the hand over (largely because time was against them), their contribution to the future of Enigma intercepts was crucial. It is perhaps nothing short of a great shame that the Polish crytanalysts were frozen out of future code breaking activity. Who knows what might have been achieved if they had been permitted to participate? There is no doubt that in other areas where the Poles supported allied efforts in the war that were very effective indeed (e.g. in the Polish squadrons of the RAF where the British commanders could scarcely believe the rate at which the Poles were shooting down German aircraft - until they went and had a look for themselves and were also forced to resort to astonishment!). (talk) 18:03, 26 June 2013 (UTC)
Do we know why the British were so reluctant to allow the Polish codebreakers to continue their efforts? I have seen TV documentaries where major players in the British codebreaking activities have expressed their dismay that the Poles were not permitted to contribute, but no actual reason was given. DieSwartzPunkt (talk) 11:19, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
I'm traveling and don't have sources at hand, but I recall reading that the Polish Cipher Bureau's chief, Col. Gwido Langer, visited England and was asked by the British to send his key personnel to Britain; and that he declined because he felt they should remain with the Polish Armed Forces in exile, then centered in France. Langer's unit in France collaborated closely with Britain's Bletchley Park until Germany's invasion of France; the Poles continued breaking Enigma ciphers during the ensuing Battle of France, then worked in southern France's Free Zone and in French Algeria. Of the three Polish mathematician-cryptologists, Jerzy Różycki died in the 1942 sinking of a passenger ship in the Mediterranean Sea, and Marian Rejewski and Henryk Zygalski only reached England in 1943, by which time a number of Britons who had met them in July 1939 were no longer involved with Bletchley Park, and the decryption technology had made advances which the British were probably disinclined to share with the first, Polish breakers of German Enigma ciphers, who might after the war (as Rejewski did) leave Britain. For over 6 1/2 years before the war, for security reasons, the Poles had not shared their Enigma successes with the French, let alone the British; during the war, after the Battle of France, the British returned the compliment. Nihil novi (talk) 21:50, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
I don't have any sources either, but I agree with Nihil novi's statements. The Poles joining with the French makes further sense considering the French supplied the Hans Thilo Schmidt information. I don't see the Poles being shut out but rather swept aside by the events. Rejewski may believe that Poland would have shared Enigma secrets even without a national emergency, but Rejewski was probably not involved in that decision process. Some of the great decisions of the Polish Cipher Bureau were to keep information from the mathematicians, so the the mathematicians were not in all the loops. Britain made even greater decisions in its willingness to invest in breaking the codes. The Poles provided significant information, but the Poles were stymied by the naval Enigma -- and it was a problem in which they probably had little interest. Glrx (talk) 04:23, 28 June 2013 (UTC)

Thank you for that. It makes a lot more sense than the Poles simply being shut out. DieSwartzPunkt (talk) 15:15, 29 June 2013 (UTC)

The Polish tale is a bit more involved and direct. Germany invaded and quickly overran Poland in 1939. The Cipher Bureau was attached to the General Staff, and it evacuated. Eventually, the Cipher Bureau crossed into Romania. The uniformed officers were separated from the civilian codebreakers (RRZ) at the border. The civilians were told to make their way to a specific loccation, but instead they jumped on a train and went south to Bucharest. They sought help at the Polish embassy, but it could do nothing. They then sought help at the British Embassy. The British Embassy stalled, so they tried the French Embassy (which knew who they were and that they were wanted). The French quickly got them to Paris and working at PC Bruno. If the British had been more on the ball, then Bletchley might have got them. Enignma: How the German Machine Cipher was Broken and How it was Read by the Allies in World War Two, Kozaczuk 1984, pp 71–73. Glrx (talk) 05:52, 19 July 2014 (UTC)
"Do we know why the British were so reluctant to allow the Polish codebreakers to continue their efforts?" - after the German invasion and subsequent German/Soviet division of Poland it became obvious that any Poles involved in Bletchley Park might well have relatives still living in Poland and that as a result pressure might be put on the Poles at Bletchley, via these relatives, to divulge information to the Nazis or Soviets.
After the war Poland was behind the Iron Curtain and so, yes, the British didn't want people possessing such sensitive information 'going home' and either willingly or unwillingly using this information against Britain. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:12, 20 April 2016 (UTC)

Why the odometer analogy works (the video I added is NOT useless and currently used in a course a Mcgill University)Edit

Glrx claims "addition is not permutation". He may have a PHD in philosophy, however I think he's misunderstanding this simplification. It has nothing to do with permutations, a permutation is equivalent to shuffling a deck of cards. Would he argue that this is also too much of a simplification?

When explaining the Enigma, many people get bogged down in the details of the electrical wiring. However the essence of the enigma's operation is that each wheel position applies a specific shift to the input character. So each electrical path can be defined equivalently as some addition. The randomness of the machine, can then be explained by the random listing of numbers on the wheels. This sells the point that A. it's deterministic, and B, the rotors are pseudorandom.

I simply think this is the best way to introduce the topic, it abstracts the mechanics and focuses on the mathematics

Reference (i used this example as a TA in): — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:32, 3 August 2011 (UTC)


Regarding Glrx, I totally respect and read his contributions. However, I'd love for him/someone else to come up with an analogy that can be understood at first glance, by abstracting mechanical movements into mathematical operations. What enigma/lorenz and all the machine share is message + Psuedorandomness

So what's the best way to demonstrate psuedorandomness numerically. I've read Knuth's SemiNumerical Algorithms and we could use some middle square method. Or, why not just take a strip of pseudorandom digits, and mount them on wheels. From there we could come up with all sorts of options for then using those digits to define a shift:

ie. If wheels A B C are showing, should we take Shift = A*B*C MOD 26 ? Shift = A + B + C MOD 26 ?

How about, A^B * B^c * B^A MOD 26 ?

How we choose the operations simply change the topological mixing.

And reason why we can't use addition? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:30, 4 August 2011 (UTC)

You, youtube, and I are not reliable sources. It is not our job to create explanations. Where is a reliable source that explains the Enigma as addition. Watch out for WP:SYNTHESIS.
If you look at an Enigma rotor, it does not have random letters written on it. The letters are in sequence. Consequently, the proposal adds confusion. Odometers do not have random numbers on them. The Enigma counts in sequence. BTW, my 1998 car does not have a mechanical odometer. And there isn't a clear explanation of what is going on. (The video also has some two digit labels.) There's a lot of explanation required to introduce this simplification.
What part of the Enigma performs addition? There's a very subtle issue of computational simplicity here. Enigma increments and permutes.
The Enigma performs encryption and decryption the same way. E() = D(). You cannot do that with ordinary addition. There's a problem with isomorphism. So how do you fix it? Use XOR? Change the simplification to substract when decoding?
What about the group theory issues that E(x) != x? Why is the number that needs to be added is never 0?
The video is poor (and has few views). The video is not clear about what it is doing.
IIRC, the IP that introduced the vide said he made it for a class. He has a COI. The video was challenged. A reintroduction in the article should have required a discussion on the talk page and a consensus. Instead of discussing it, it was brought into the text proper as a reference.
Are all these insertions being done by the same individual?
Glrx (talk) 18:23, 4 August 2011 (UTC)
A deficiency of an ordinary odometer as an explanation of the advancement of Enigma rotors is that, starting from zero, an odometer does not turn over the second rotor until the first rotor completes a full revolution. The Enigma scrambler may turn over the middle rotor on any one of the first 26 key depressions, including the first one.--TedColes (talk) 21:48, 4 August 2011 (UTC)

Agreed. However, that's because of the wiring. The middle rotor doesn't randomly turn, it still clicks along as a odometer would. In this case the random digits on the rotor are performing the same job as the wiring. If we didn't have the numbers scrambled on the rotor, then yes, every press the rotors would all have to turn to some new place (which is the same as an electrical signal jumping around). The biggest problem I see is the fact that you can have A=A. However, I still think it's a useful road to explore. Especially if you want to show kids how this works and get them interested in the details of wiring. Right now, this article is not user friendly in my mind. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:04, 5 August 2011 (UTC)

But your exploration is original research and not proper content for WP. If there is not a reliable source, it does not belong in WP.
Here's another problem with your shift/addition/Caesar substitution cipher simplification for permutation. The Enigma has a reflector. How does your analogy explain its function? The rotors are traversed right to left, reflected, and then traversed left to right. Under the addition idea, the traverse from right to left should add the numbers on the dial (shift), and the traverse from left to right should subtract them (unshift). That will make encryption and decryption work, but with shifts/addition, the rotors are now the identity operation and do nothing.
Glrx (talk) 15:28, 5 August 2011 (UTC)

If you read the description of the the video it explains that this animation ignores the plug-boards and the reflector - focusing on the core function which is psuedorandom shifts. Remember the addition is abstracting the entire electrical pathway, so the reflector has nothing to do with it. The reflector is simply an extra mix operation.

To me the core of Enigma is:

A -> (permutation) -> Shifted letter

So the permutation can be explained in detail with the electrical pathways. However, there has to be an analogy to explain how this is basically a fancy odometer which outputs random shifts values. Perhaps someone could come up with a better way. Why not make it easier for everyone to understand aside from tech geeks?

What would Richard Feynman do?

We would agree that there is a simplification to be made here, to merely introduce the concept. THEN explain how it works.

Ideally, it would be a slot machine type operation which occurs each shift. Which is what the video is trying to do. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:03, 5 August 2011 (UTC)

Vast number of messagesEdit

"Thanks to this,[6] during the war, Allied codebreakers were able to decrypt a vast number of messages that had been enciphered using the Enigma"... This statement does not appear to be neutral. (talk) 02:39, 14 March 2012 (UTC)

'A vast number of messages' is a matter of fact, so in what way is this not neutral? If the objection is to the word 'vast', what alternative adjective would be appropriate, as an adjective is certainly needed here? --TedColes (talk) 10:05, 14 March 2012 (UTC)


Is there a source for the translation of "Funkschlüssel" to "remote key" in the historical crypto sense?

The translation of "Funkschlüssel" was changed from "radio cipher" to "remote key". My sense is Funk is radio/wireless and Schlüssel is key (and possibly cipher). When used in our context, it is a radio key or radio cipher or even radio cipher machine. When referring to the device used to open modern cars, it is a remote key or a wireless key. (Yes, I know that car remote keys use encryption.)

To me, the original "radio cipher" is better. The German WP article uses Rotor-Schlüsselmaschinen (literally "rotor-key machine") to denote rotor cipher machine, but my guess is that "Schlüssel" can also be used in the English sense of cipher. Google translate takes cipher machine to Chiffriermaschine, Verschlüsselungsmaschine, and Kryptogeräte. Also from DE WP, a book apparently describing Enigma cipher procedures is called "Der Schlüssel M".

Should the change be reverted?

Glrx (talk) 17:31, 25 April 2012 (UTC)

Back in those days, a "Schlüssel" would also denote a "code", which included ciphers. So a "Funkschlüssel" refers to a cipher and not a key. I have reverted the change. Nageh (talk) 17:50, 25 April 2012 (UTC)
PS: A "Funkschlüssel" refers to a code/cipher for transmission over radio. Nageh (talk) 17:51, 25 April 2012 (UTC)

What idiot removed the translated English text of the cover maintenance text?Edit

Simon Singh was just on the radio speaking about Alan Turing and Enigmas, and they attempted a real-time interpretation of the cover maintenance German (they gave up as it was taking too much time). It was OK that it was moved from the page as a part of the caption, but raises enough questions to keep around. (talk) 20:06, 25 May 2012 (UTC)

The first German WW2 Naval ENIGMA M4 TURINGBOMBE break since 1945Edit

The first German WW2 Naval ENIGMA M4 TURINGBOMBE break since 1945. Visit: and read the original U534 messages for the first time since nearly 70 years. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:47, 18 August 2012 (UTC)


Some work has been done on replica machines. Is it worth discussing? Rich Farmbrough, 00:14, 18 September 2012 (UTC).

You've peaked my interest anyway. WP:Be bold would apply, I think. Skippydo (talk) 04:35, 18 September 2012 (UTC)
  • piqued "pique(pēk) n. To provoke; arouse: The portrait piqued her curiosity." Un "peak" your interest!

Criticism of Harris's bookEdit

The article claims that Harris does not acknowledge Polish work on the bombe, but on p64 it claims Puck "arrived in the first week of the war to brief them on the Polish bombe". It also claims criticisms of how things were at Bletchley without support.

I wasn't there but the general treatment seems convincing - the mixture of informality and extreme security. Harris maybe assumes too much knowledge - Turing is very much in the background (as he was by 1943) and is hardly mentioned in the film. The major plot element - the total suppression of decryptions of the Katyn massacre - mainly hits at the secretiveness of the British, though the anti-Polish angle is bad. Rejewski wasn't even allowed near Bletchley and was certainly no traitor. Chris55 (talk) 18:44, 13 April 2013 (UTC)

Origin of name?Edit

Does anyone know the origin of the name? Certainly the meaning makes sense, but I was recently struck by the similarity in concept to Elgar's Enigma Variations, a series of 14 pieces for orchestra based on a hidden, unplayed theme, written in 1899. The mystery of what this theme is was unsolved in Elgar's lifetime. Could the name have been given in reference to Elgar's pieces? Conscientia (talk) 11:29, 6 May 2013 (UTC)

"Enigma:[something puzzling, mysterious or inexplicable] - so no surprise in the use of the word in the two contexts.--TedColes (talk) 16:16, 6 May 2013 (UTC)

"Commercial Enigma"Edit

User:Jcolman1 has added a questionable paragraph about the Enigma D model to the "Commercial Enigma" section. I have edited his paragraph for its many lesser errors and stylistic infelicities, but the whole text is very dubious, and I have marked it as "citation needed". I cite the paragraph, below:

The Enigma D version was intercepted by the Poles on a Friday in late December 1927 at the Polish railroad customs house in Warsaw. A heavy package had arrived there, addressed to the German Embassy in Warsaw. A German representative of the "radio" company that had shipped the package, repeatedly called the customs officials, stating that the package had been shipped by mistake, must not go through customs inspection, and must be returned to Berlin immediately. His calls became increasingly frantic, until the custom officials became suspicious and notified the Polish Cipher Bureau, which was then responsible for radio-related matters. Stefan Mayer, chief of Polish intelligence, was then informed and had his agents secretly remove the package to a location that was known not to be under Gestapo surveillance. The package was carefully opened to reveal a cipher machine virtually identical with commercial Enigma machines in use at the time. The agents correctly guessed that the Germans had modified the internal wiring; they carefully disassembled it and noted the changes. The machine was quickly reassembled and, the following Monday, shipped back to the radio company in Berlin. When Major Gwido Langer took over the newly organized Cipher Bureau in 1929, he possessed the modified Enigma machine, but he did not reveal this to the newly recruited mathematics students, Marian Rejewski, Henryk Zygalski and Jerzy Róźycki. Langer correctly assumed that the Germans would make further modifications to the Enigma machine, and he only provided Rejewski with a legally purchased commercial Enigma machine. His reasoning was that he wanted his cryptologists to understand the machine's internal wiring from a purely mathematical point of view.[citation needed]

The three mathematicians were only recruited by the Cipher Bureau in 1932, not 1929, and by then they were no longer "students". But there are more serious errors in this paragraph, as is made clear by reading Marian Rejewski's Appendix D to Władysław Kozaczuk, Enigma: How the German Machine Cipher Was Broken, and How It Was Read by the Allies in World War Two,1984 (p. 246):

It may readily be surmised that the cipher machine [that had arrived at the Warsaw Customs Office on a "Saturday afternoon" in "late 1927 or perhaps early 1928"] was an Enigma, of the commercial model of course, since, at that time, the military model had not yet been put into use. Hence, this trivial episode was of no practical importance, though it does fix the date at which the Cipher Bureau's interest in the Enigma machine began — manifested, initially, in the acquisition by entirely legal means of one copy of the commercial model machine.

The Cipher Bureau clearly would have had no purpose in keeping the model D's wiring a secret from Rejewski. User:Jcolman1's paragraph needs, at a minimum, to be thoroughly revised for relevance and accuracy; probably, to be dropped altogether.

Nihil novi (talk) 23:32, 27 May 2013 (UTC)

Double codingEdit

I recently visited the U-Boat U534 on display at Birkenhead ( Included in the display are bits of two enigma machines recovered from the hull. The narrative next to the display said that there were two machines which allowed messages to be doubly encrypted for added security. This makes no sense to me as my understanding that multiple encryption does nothing to improve the security because it only aggregates the encryption functions to create a new function which is no harder to break than any other single encryption function.

Can anyone clarify if double encryption was used with the enigma or if this idea is nonsense please? (talk) 11:57, 5 August 2013 (UTC)

It certainly is used in some instances - see multiple encryption. It was recommended for a period when the DES had been shown to have too short a key, before the move to AES. Use different keys for each layer, obviously (wheel settings in the case of enigma). See also this page. Chris55 (talk) 16:08, 5 August 2013 (UTC)
I don't know why there would be two machines. Even if double encryption were used, it could be done with a single machine. There was an officer code (rarely used), so maybe there was a machine for ordinary communications and another one for the officers. Initially there was a 3 rotor machine; that was upgraded to 4 rotors. Maybe they never discarded the 3 rotor machine. The museum should have the answer; send them a letter and ask.
Double encryption would make breaking with cribs more difficult. Glrx (talk) 00:34, 6 August 2013 (UTC)
Why would it make the use of cribs more difficult? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:41, 11 August 2013 (UTC)
Would double encryption make the enigma moving substitution encryption any harder to break? Here is a very simple example of the principle with just the plug board setting. Say a plug was first set to change A to B and then on a second encryption it was set to change B to C. The end result is a change of A to C which is no harder to solve than any of the original single substitutions. I suspect that the same logic applies to the moving substitutions of the rotors. Accordingly there is no advantage in double encryption? (talk) 12:02, 8 August 2013 (UTC)
Yes. Don't use the plugboard as an example of security because it added very little security to the machine. The plugboard is worse than a simple substitution cipher, and those ciphers have been insecure for a long time. Glrx (talk) 00:30, 9 August 2013 (UTC)
But, the article says (in the plugboard section) "The plugboard contributed a great deal to the strength of the machine's encryption: more than an extra rotor would have done". So did it contribute to security or not? (talk) 12:05, 23 August 2013 (UTC)
Someone has written above "The plugboard is worse than a simple substitution cipher", but the plugboard is a substitution cypher. The original assertion that double encryption does not make encryption stronger for the enigma seems like a reasonable theory to me. This is an interesting point, is anyone else able to supply a mathmatical proof? (talk) 19:15, 11 August 2013 (UTC)
A substitution cipher is an arbitrary permutation; the plugboard only exchanges (a small number of) character pairs. Glrx (talk) 01:04, 12 August 2013 (UTC)
So the plug board exchanges (substitutes) letter from a limited keyspace. I think I see where you are coming from but it still sounds like a substitution cipher to me. (talk) 12:09, 23 August 2013 (UTC)
A substitution cipher can replace any letter with any other letter. The plugboard is a very limited substitution cipher because it only swaps pairs (if A subs for Z, then Z must sub for A). Furthermore, the plugboard used fewer than 13 wires, so several letters were left unenciphered. Compare to a rotor that permuted all the letters. Glrx (talk) 19:29, 24 August 2013 (UTC)
So its agreed then, the plug board is a substitution cypher. The letters which are not scrambled because of the shortage of wires can be considered to have been substitued by themselves. This is because it may be considered a chance event as to whether a wire was avaiable for a particular letter. (talk) 13:38, 7 July 2014 (UTC)

I believe double coding was used for messages that could be read only by officers. When the outer decryption using the standard enigma key for the day was decrypted by a seaman/petty officer, he was left with a message encrypted with another key, again using Enigna. Then a new key was set up by an officer from a sepatate key list. Some marine engima machines had a detacheable lamp assembly, so that the seaman/NCO pressed the keys for the second decryption (with the officer key) but only the officer could see the light bublbs. SV1XV (talk) 19:59, 24 August 2013 (UTC)

A double-scramble would be harder to crack. Amazing it was ever solved. -- Narnia.Gate7 (talk) 22:11, 9 May 2014 (UTC)

Can you please explain why you think it would be harder to crack? It has been well argued above that it would make no difference to the difficulty of decryption and so I would like to hear your argument. (talk) 13:32, 7 July 2014 (UTC)
Two things: It would not, actually, be 'harder to crack' but A) harder to know you cracked it: in the time period (1918 to 1950's or so) when the mathematics and the hardware were not yet fully formed and useful the only definitive method of knowing you had, actually, cracked it was to possess intelligible plaintext. Unintelligible plaintext might as well serve as 'not cracked.' or be viewed as 'chaff' In addition, B) deciphering was a time consuming activity not assisted by computation so anything that increased the time to crack to plaintext was viewed as helpful for keeping secrets. For instance, if I encrypt the plaintext phrase "hello there" once into the cyphertext "3tdrw234" and then, treating that as plaintext, encrypt it again, gaining the new cyphertext "bl0o32sdd e3a" (all examples made up for illustrative purposes only) anybody attempting to decypher "bl0o32sdd e3a" would, if done correctly get "3tdrw234". The cryptanalyst would have a decision: trust the math and assume double encryption and repeat the time consuming process or believe that a mistake was made and repeat the original cryptanalysis. Before computers the task of going from "bl0o32sdd e3a" directly to "hello there" in a double encryption was neither easy nor quick, if at all possible. TreebeardTheEnt (talk) 20:24, 27 December 2014 (UTC)
You seem to have ignored the argument that a double encryption only requires a single decryption. E.G. If I code a letter by moving to just the next letter (A to B) I have a single step encryption. I can then repeat this by encrypting again (B to C). In fact if I repeated it ten time I would have a chain of encryption changing A to J. To decrypt there is no need to reverse the process in ten stages when all one has to do is move the letter back ten places in one go. This easily mathematically proved for simple systems, but the question is, does this apply to Enigma? (talk) 17:40, 15 February 2015 (UTC)

If the encryption algorithm is of a type call a “cryptographic group” and double encryption is used then there will be a third key which produces the same results as the two keys used in turn. In this case double encryption takes twice the work and provides no more security than a single encryption step!

Even if the cipher is not a cryptographic group, there is something called a “meet in the middle” attack that makes the sequence of encryption operations no more secure against a brute-force attack than just encrypting it once.

Chaining multiple encryption steps is not a great way to improve on security. (talk) 12:17, 29 July 2014 (UTC)

This is true only for definitions of 'brute force' that includes assistance from a combination of advanced mathematics and programmable computers, both of which were invented in response to a need well after the implementation and use of advanced encryption techniques like chaining multiple encryption steps. That's the world we live in today. That's not the world of 1940. It's all well and good, and true for today, to say chaining multiple encryptions isn't an improvement on security, but for instances of which 'brute force' constituted a bunch of smart people in a room with pencil and paper trying to tease plaintext out of gibberish it actually was very very hard. TreebeardTheEnt (talk) 20:24, 27 December 2014 (UTC)
I don't find the above paragraph to be very convincing. The authors further above have provided good arguments which have not been refuted. If the system is a cryptographic group and it is double encrypted then the crypto-analysts may not even be aware that it was double encrypted because the solution is no harder than a single encryption. I think is would be good to back up a view with evidence where possible. (talk) 17:31, 15 February 2015 (UTC)

TICOM ArchivesEdit

It might be worth looking at the TICOM archives to accurately reflect the facts. TICOM were the American group that scoured Europe post WW2 for military assets, particularly cryptologic assets. The following documents are worth a read. TICOM was there, and interviewed all the principle people, those who built it, used it, and noticed it's weaknesses. Most post WW2 books are partially based on these archives. One interesting fact, was that it was considered out of date at the commencement of the war. Here are the two links.

TICOM Archive
Notes Sec 5-14 for Enigma

scope_creep talk 20:0 10 January 2014 (UTC)


Needs explanation in table of what Uhr stands for. --palmiped |  Talk  15:02, 8 December 2014 (UTC)

British scientist likens his DNA code message breaking to the Enigma machineEdit

The methods of the code breaking are very similar, he says.
Headline: End of common cold could be in sight

QUOTE: "Scientists say 'Enigma machine' has unlocked clues to the way the virus of the common cold assembles - making it possible to stop disease in its tracks" -- Charles Edwin Shipp (talk) 03:23, 5 February 2015 (UTC) -- PS: FYI for future editing: He says, “It is like finding a secret message within an ordinary news report and then being able to crack the whole coding system behind it."

U-110 not U-505?Edit

The following was inappropriately put on the article page by an anonymous editor;

The proper designation of the German U-Boat bearing the enigma machine captured by Roayal Navey Sublieutenant David Balm of the British destroyer Bulldog on May 9, 1941 was U-110, not U-505 as your article states. Gott Mit Whom?, essay; David Balm, as told to John McCormick. Published in No End Save Victory, Perspectives on World War II (essays) edited by Robert Crowley, G.P. Putnams Sons, Penguin Putnam Inc. c. 2001.

--TedColes (talk) 08:20, 14 February 2015 (UTC)

The reference to the Enigma machine in Chicago seems likely to be that from U-505 which was captured by the US Navy in June 1944, not that from the pivotal capture of U-110 by the Royal Navy in May 1941. --TedColes (talk) 10:54, 14 February 2015 (UTC)

confusing picture caption?Edit

The article has a picture of a four rotor enigma with the caption, "A four–rotor Kriegsmarine (German Navy, 1935 to 1945) Enigma machine on display at the US National Cryptologic Museum". Surely, the four rotor enigmas was introduced 1942, as the body of the article says? There seems to be some confusion between the total number of rotors available to an operator and the number actually inserted in the machine at any one time? Sandpiper (talk) 23:57, 18 April 2015 (UTC)

Enigma and ShoahEdit — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:51, 28 April 2015 (UTC)

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Section 2.4: Operation; Additonal details - final paragraphEdit

Apparently, for the Kreigsmarine Enigma, words like Minensuchboot (minesweeper) could be written as MINENSUCHBOOT, MINBOOT, MMMBOOT or MMM354. This makes excellent cryptological sense, except that I am not sure how you type 354 into an Enigma machine. You could try FUNFHUNDERTVIERUNDFUNFZIG, but that seems bit laborious.... Moletrouser (talk) 18:05, 13 January 2016 (UTC)

"DREI FUNF VIER" or "YEYTYR"[8] (but I'm not sure this was used by the Kriegsmarine). The Kriegsmarine had short codes to compress information such as weather reports; that presumably would result in just letters. Some attacks made use of "EINS" being a very popular word; "Einsing". Glrx (talk) 00:09, 16 January 2016 (UTC)


This edit introduced a picture of a purported 1918 Enigma. The machine has a plugboard -- a feature that was added to German machine in the 1930s. "[The plugboard] was a unique feature for the German Armed Forces."[9] Compare with this Enigma in a wooden box. Glrx (talk) 18:23, 22 April 2016 (UTC)

I have asked on the German page [10] if it is from 1918. (talk) 01:46, 29 April 2016 (UTC)
Looking at the picture, it is a Heimsoethe und Rinke Engima. H und R started making Enigmas in 1941. See §Enigma Manufacturers.
For a picture of the first machine (a 1923 Enigma A), see previous link § Enigma A and § Invention of the Rotor Machine (1915) with a picture of a bulky typewriter-like machine.
Glrx (talk) 04:07, 29 April 2016 (UTC)

The claimed date “1918” is certainly wrong. In the year 1918, the year of its invention by Arthur Scherbius, there existed no Enigma machines at all. And the plugboard (Steckerbrett) was introduced in 1928 by the German Army (Reichswehr). The presented Enigma machine of the museum in Milano is a typical 3-wheel-plugboard model “Enigma I” as used by the German Armed Forces (Wehrmacht) during the late 1930s and during the war. So the date should read “ca. 1940”. Best wishes --OS (talk) 05:45, 29 April 2016 (UTC)

good sourceEdit's-secret-decryption-centre,-bletchley-park/5136522 has lots of important info missing from this article. --Espoo (talk) 22:40, 15 June 2016 (UTC)

Additional citations template?Edit

Is anyone here concerned about the relative lack of citations for such a long, in-depth article? I'm considering adding a refimprov template but wanted to run it by anyone more heavily involved in the drafting this article. Dvlsnthedtls (talk) 15:53, 20 April 2017 (UTC)

Poland articleEdit

There's no link to this page from the WWII section of the Poland article, as if the work of the Polish Cipher Bureau made a less notable contribution than the Polish navy. Anyone with a view either way about that, please chime in on the Talk page there. -Chumchum7 (talk) 04:39, 3 May 2017 (UTC)

Details SectionEdit

Hi Fellow Wikipedians! I intend to update the details section, at some point in the next couple of weeks. At the moment, it is hazy, incorrect in some places, and doesn't differentiate between Naval Enigma and Heer/Luftwaffe message encipherment/decipherment procedures, in any detail. I have several images, which I think are now in public domain, and can help detail the procedures. Thanks. scope_creep (talk) 22:04, 19 September 2017 (UTC)

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Toc LimitEdit

I've removed the toclimit on the article, to enable linking from the Otto Buggisch article to Enigma Uhr. He led the group which did the work to invent the uhr. The toclimit may make the article nice and clean, but is lously for correct linking. scope_creep (talk)

The {{toclimit}} template has nothing to do with linking to article sections. A link to Enigma machine#Uhr or any other section still works perfectly fine with the template in place. The template only restricts the length of the TOC as displayed to a reasonable length. Please leave the template alone. General Ization Talk 20:49, 27 January 2018 (UTC)
Hi User:General Ization Cool. That has fixed the first problem, now then second problem, the typex entry. It is an incorrect and it is nonsense. Firstly it is an article about about a German product. The typex wasn't solely based on the Enigma, and it needs to be changed or go. It was based on a whole bunch of different areas of research including the designs of various Swiss Hagelin machines. So why is it in there?
Since this heading has nothing to do with that issue, start a new discussion below and attempt to find consensus for the removal. As it stands now, I disagree based on the content at Typex, which means there is no consensus for its removal. General Ization Talk 21:24, 27 January 2018 (UTC)
Your right. scope_creep (talk) 21:37, 27 January 2018 (UTC)

Removal of Typex entry in articleEdit

Hi, I'm trying to determine the consensus for removal or keeping of the section titled: Typex. I think it should be removed. What is the consensus on it? scope_creep (talk) 21:37, 27 January 2018 (UTC)

No consensus needs to be determined for its retention in the article, as it is already there. As mentioned above, I oppose its removal based on the content at Typex, which I believe shows that it is relevant to this article. General Ization Talk 21:42, 27 January 2018 (UTC)
If you're serious about trying to achieve consensus on this question, you might want to consider providing some reasoning for your position. As it stands now, your only argument here (in this section, and no editor should have to refer to another section of this Talk page) is that "you think" it should be removed. That's not going to lead to an agreement with other editors concerning the removal of the content. General Ization Talk 22:56, 27 January 2018 (UTC)
I know, User:General Ization. I plan to make a list of updates over the next couple of day and reasoning behind them. I've posted a message in this page, in the last year, where I gained consensus for updates to one section of the article. It is a old article, some of the stuff is out date, in light of new evidence, particularly the TICOM stuff, some of the stuff is superfluous, some of it is badly written, or rather more accurately needs clarification like the message procedures, in light of the new evidence, from Jstor and T&L. I also plan to link in, a new der fall wicher article which I plan to write, put in links and content for the people who actually did the work, like Buggisch, Hüttenhain, Stein, Fenner, Hasenjeager, Denffer and Doering. I also plan to add stuff about security studies, including stastical analysis done by Germans. I don't plan to change any of the actual technical detail, or the design information, accept add new info about why it was built that way, and reasoning behind it, which is missing. I plan to copyedit it, and npov if that exists. I plan to add also new stuff about devices which are missing, which were secret until quite recent, which I don't understand why they are not in there. I also plan to put in the proper German names for devices, which are missing in some parts. I'll make a list and see what folk think. I believe in enclosure, having a single subject in an article. To early in Wikipedia, we have ended up with articles which multiple subjects. I doesn't really server the reader. Thanks. scope_creep (talk) 11:19, 28 January 2018 (UTC)
Good for you scope_creep. I would need a lot of persuading that the entry under Enigma K is appropriate. But are you proposing to remove the whole 'Derivatives' section?--TedColes (talk) 12:26, 28 January 2018 (UTC)
TedColes, Possibly for Derivatives, since there was has been OR notice on it for 5 years. It could be put in a See Also, or even it's own article. There is only 3 refs, which are downloads, and don't provide much for the average reader. Perhaps a new article if it could stand on its own feet. It is only of interest to a very tiny, tiny minority of folk, who are likely to download a simulator. Comp Sci, math grads and so on. The K version, was broken within about 20 mins from the start of the war (metaphorically speaking), so it is not hugely important, historically, unless I can find some docs. It may be important for the Case Wicher article. I have that single giant doc, I was sent, and it does mention various cipher machines. I think it needs more supporting evidence. scope_creep (talk) 15:32, 28 January 2018 (UTC)


Strange lede looks like the result of an edit war between those wanting to downplay the Polish role in defeating Enigma, and those wanting to promote it: in a nutshell, it says a Pole got some of the way, but then only with French help the Pole finished the job, and then the job couldn't be done by the Pole by the time it really mattered (the outbreak of WWII) because the Pole couldn't afford it, presumably because Poles are poor as well as inept, just in case some nationalist Pole was trying to say otherwise. In the first place, this article is about a German machine, not Polish success in defeating it. So let's cut down the Polish content from the lede, as well as what appears to be a reaction against it in the content. Simply put, the British by their own account said they never would have achieved what they did against Enigma without having been given the insight by their Polish allies "in the nick of time" at the start of the War - not much more needs to be said about it than that. Happy to see and discuss proposed alternatives here. -Chumchum7 (talk) 18:21, 9 July 2018 (UTC)

There is a separate article on Cryptanalysis of the Enigma. I would suggest that a more appropriate approach here, in line with Wikipedia:Neutral point of view, would be to compress the Polish contribution and expand, briefly, the significance of the allied successes in Enigma message decryption in shortening WWII. What do others think? --TedColes (talk) 11:01, 10 July 2018 (UTC)
Yes, the article is about the Enigma, but it is also about the security of the Enigma. The Polish attack was a new direction in cryptanalysis and deserves significant coverage. The Poles were reading the Enigma traffic from 1933 to 1939. The British and French had not succeeded in their efforts.
Enigma decrypts shortening the war is an open debate. It was an advantage, but aircraft carriers, sonar, and radar were helping the convoys. The Soviets were attacking on the Eastern Front, and in August the US dropped the bomb. Glrx (talk) 22:59, 21 August 2018 (UTC)
Don't know what "Lede" is/means, but this seems to be the place for my comment. Whatever the contribution of the relevant efforts to break the code, the current article cannot reflect reality if 10.5 detailed lines describe the Polish contribution and 1 line describes the entire British & Allied contribution!!! This is a major weakness of the current form of the article and extremely misleading. Surely the detail of the Polish section should be in Cryptanalysis of the Enigma and a more balanced summary given here? So completely in agreement with TedColes comment about compression, regardless of the shortening-WWII point. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2A02:C7D:184:F500:857F:563E:9CD5:FCA8 (talk) 09:36, 10 July 2019 (UTC)
"Lede" is another term for the opening paragraph of the article. Chaheel Riens (talk) 10:18, 10 July 2019 (UTC)
The 3rd paragraph that introduces the history of Enigma decryption seems exactly correct as I read it. There is (in the literature) a bit of a battle for recognition between the Poles and the British. During the decade leading up to WWII, the Poles were more successful than the British because they were attacking with mathematical methods, and they had some help such as "Asche" documents. The British learned about the mechanical means, the importance of the decrypts from the Enigma, and about the mathematical approach--all from the Poles. But Alan Turing and Gordon Welchman took this significantly further. The Polish methods were not adaptable--while, for example, the Turing-Welchman 'Bombe' machine could be reconfigured. Throughout the war, many basic ideas from the Poles continued to be used to cut down the amount of work, most notably the 'Zygalski sheets' in various forms.
But the British contribution, especially the Welchman "diagonal board" methods allowed for deductions from the mechanical means that were much more effective than the original Polish methods--when the volume of traffic to be decrypted reached that level of productivity. Having 100's of the original Polish 'Bomba' machines (without regard to cost) would not have solved Enigma traffic later when the German procedures changed. One major problem is that the Polish Cypher Bureau personnell were not allowed to work on their project after they arrived in GB, and were essentially shuttled to less important jobs.
Then there is a tenstion between the British and Americans over first computer developments (Colossus related and unrelated to Enigma decryption), but these tensions make for different books that declare contradictory stories of the importance of the contributions of the parties. As I see it, the facts are that without the Polish contribution, Bletchley Park would have been many months behind and might well never have made the progress they did. Then without the new insights of Turing and Welchman and others, and of course the later production of equipment ('Bombe's etc.) the ability to decrypt Enigma trafic would have faltered as well. By the later years, 4-rotor Naval enigma decryption was carried out in the US on 4-rotor based US Naval Boombe equipment (Dayton codebreakers), with job requests being transmitted over undersea cable to the US from Bletchley Park, because the British could not keep up with the production of their Bombe equipement needed for all the traffic.
Each of several groups thus made completely irreplaceable contributions.
I do agree that the section "Breaking Enigma" has an imbalance. The reason is that Enigma wasn't "broken" just once, but many times and in different ways--both for different variations of the machine, but also different code nets had different procedures that were exploited in different ways. One single "breaking" event (the initial Polish effort) is not a sufficient decription.
At the risk of making that section too long, I would expand the end to include further "breaking" exploits and explain it had to be done repeatedly. Then in essence shorten the Polish introductory section by using fewer words and shortening the exploits a bit. NOT by removing that or minimizing that. Indeed a separate article can expand on each portion of the issue. Csp-interest (talk) 21:12, 3 November 2019 (UTC)

Polish contribution revisited: Vera Atkins and Colin GubbinsEdit

We're still not quite there yet. If the Polish contribution was a sideshow, then Britain would't have sent Colin Gubbins and Vera Atkins in 'Military Mission 4' to Poland in 1939 to evacuate the Polish codebreakers into Romania under a hail of German ordinance, per Spymistress: The True Story of the Greatest Female Secret Agent of World War II by William Stevenson. This needs a mention in the article (and reflection in the lede), as does Glrx's point about the many years of past experience the Poles had in decryption (in fact 1932 - 1939) which as stated lower down included their own replica Enigmas, their Bombe and their Zygalski sheets. To say "As used in practice, the Enigma encryption proved vulnerable to cryptanalytic attacks by Germany's adversaries, at first Polish and French intelligence and, later, a massive effort mounted by the United Kingdom at Bletchley Park as part of the Ultra program." is a misrepresentation of the relative French and Polish achievements prior to the war. -Chumchum7 (talk) 07:07, 22 December 2019 (UTC)

Enigma A, B, CEdit

The cipher machine invented by Scherbius in 1918, a glowlamp-machine, built and tested in 1918, has been later named "Enigma A", the writing machines (1919-1927) "Enigma B", the improved glowlamp-Enigma (Enigma A + reflector and Steckerbrett) "Enigma C".--Le Huic (talk) 09:06, 6 October 2020 (UTC) My error: "Enigma B" is a glowlamp-Enigma too.--Le Huic (talk) 06:58, 7 October 2020 (UTC)

Return to "Enigma machine" page.