Monday 20 February 2017

Hitler code machine sold for €12 on eBay

Henry Bodkin

Published 30/05/2016 | 02:30

The teleprinter part of the Lorenz cipher machine that was purchased by the National Museum of Computing from eBay for 10 GBP (14.6 USD, 13.2 euro). Photo: Getty
The teleprinter part of the Lorenz cipher machine that was purchased by the National Museum of Computing from eBay for 10 GBP (14.6 USD, 13.2 euro). Photo: Getty

Historians have recovered a rare machine used by Adolf Hitler to exchange top secret messages with his high command after finding it advertised on eBay for £9 (€12).

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Volunteers from Britain's National Museum of Computing, based at the wartime code-breaking centre in Bletchley Park, tracked down the Lorenz teleprinter to a home in Southend, Essex, where it had been lying forgotten on the floor of a shed.

At first the researchers assumed they had bought a civilian version of the machine, but when they discovered a swastika and serial number they realised it was part of the system Hitler used to communicate with commanders such as Erwin Rommel.

While the Enigma system was used by the German war machine to exchange coded messages with frontline units, the more complicated and cumbersome Lorenz coding system was used to deliver detailed messages exclusively to the eyes of the commanders at static HQ.

Cracking the Lorenz code, which was achieved by Bletchley Park mathematician Bill Tutte, was one of the most significant British achievements of the war.

It enabled General Eisenhower to establish that the Allies' decoy operation ahead of D-Day had fooled the Germans, as well as helping the USSR win the crucial Battle of Kursk.

Only 200 of the machines were ever made, and historians believe the vast majority were destroyed at the end of the war.

John Wetter, a volunteer engineer at the National Mus-eum of Computing, described the moment he realised the Lorenz teleprinter was part of Nazi high command apparatus.

"We saw the swastika and then we noticed one of the keys was devoted to the double lightning bolt of the SS," he said.

"We'd never seen one. It makes you wonder what kind of messages were sent and received on that machine."

Telegraph.co.uk

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