Where can I buy an Enigma machine

Enigma I

One name, many puzzles

If you hear and read about encryption machines that were used during the Second World War, the keyword “Enigma” is always heard. Contrary to some assumption, the term, which comes from the Greek, does not translate as “secret”, but rather “riddle”. And the fact that a whole range of devices falls under these names is just as often lost.

The history of the Enigma family begins with the Enigma A, which was presented to the public in 1923 by the German engineer Arthur Scherbius. The main reason for the great fame of this rotor freezing machine was the Enigma variants used by the National Socialists. The navy used a version called "M4" in their submarines, and the military secret service a device called "G".

Two Enigmas of the most popular model - the Enigma I - can be used as originals in the German Spy Museum be marveled at in every detail.

Enigma I of the German Army

The fully preserved model weighs around 12 kilograms and was used by the German army. This is indicated by the lettering on the rollers, which are provided with the numbers 1-26. The single roller next to this Enigma I belongs to a marine Enigma machine - it bears the letters A-Z instead of numbers.

The second Enigma I in the German Spy Museum is an archaeological find. At the end of the war, many of these top secret machines were buried or sunk in water. This model came to the in 2012 during construction work in Streganz, southeast of Berlin Appearance. It must have been in the earth for about 60 years. All individual parts such as the rotors and even the plug-in cables are still there.

Encryption machine with high maintenance effort

The lids of the Enigma machine cases contained instructions for daily use. They did not contain any secret information about the code of the Nazi cipher machine, but were primarily intended to ensure the functionality of the device.

For the common soldier that meant one thing above all else: cleaning! Regular cleaning should keep the contacts in order and avoid transmission errors.

Transmission errors were not the reason why the Enigma was decrypted. This was achieved above all by some brilliant mathematicians who exploited other technical errors as well as errors in the operation. Marian Rejewski and Alan Turing are the most famous names. However, many other experts helped crack the code. Read the history of decryption on our blog.