Divers recover a WWII Enigma Machine from the Baltic Sea

When Nazi naval officers tossed their ship’s Enigma encryption machine overboard, they probably thought they were putting the device beyond anyone’s reach. Blissfully unaware that Allied cryptanalysts in Poland and at Bletchley Park in the UK had broken the Enigma code, the Nazis had standing orders to destroy their encryption devices to keep them out of Allied hands. Eighty years later, divers found the once-secret device tangled in an abandoned fishing net on the seafloor, and now it’s set to be put on display for everyone to see. LOL, Nazis pwned.

Research diver Florian Huber and his colleagues were trying to clear abandoned fishing nets from the Bay of Gelting, on the Baltic Sea near the German-Danish border, when they found the artifact. Derelict nets and other discarded fishing gear can still entangle fish, sea turtles, diving birds, and marine mammals like seals and dolphins. The World Wildlife Fund had hired the divers to clear them in November 2020.

“A colleague swam up and said ‘There’s a net there with an old typewriter in it,” Huber told the DPA news agency.

That’s no typewriter

During World War II, the Nazi military used the Enigma device to encrypt important communications about military plans and movements. To encrypt a message, the sender typed a plain-text message, such as “We attack at dawn” onto the machine’s keyboard. The machine converts each typed letter into a new letter to scramble the message into something like “XN LUSJVD TW SFPQ.” When the receiver types the coded message on an Enigma device with the same settings, “XN LUSJVD TW SFPQ” once more becomes “We attack at dawn. Via – Ars Technica

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