The Western Allies, in World War II,  ran the most successful intelligence effort in history.  They did well against the Japanese, frequently making partial decrypts of JN-25, the main fleet code, along with lots of useful traffic analysis, etc.   They did better still against the Germans: most of the regime’s operational orders were sent using the Enigma coding machine, and by 1942 the Allies were routinely decoding three-rotor Enigma messages, used by the German Army and the Luftwaffe, the same day.  They not only knew which cards the Germans were holding – they usually knew what the Germans were thinking about those cards.

The modern consensus is that breaking Enigma shortened the war by at least a year.

Although a number of highly-placed people knew the story, some because they had been personally involved during WWII, the successful decryption of Enigma was kept secret until 1974, when F. W. Winterbotham published The Ultra Secret.

Most historians didn’t know about it.  Without that information, the course of World War II can’t really have made sense. Why didn’t anyone notice?

This entry was posted in World War Two. Bookmark the permalink.

66 Responses to Enigma

  1. JL says:

    To what extent did the Western allies share their knowledge of German encryption with the Soviets? The Eastern front was the main theatre of the war against the Nazis, so Soviet knowledge of German codes would seem to have been potentially much more important than what the Western allies knew.

  2. Konkvistador says:

    Why I have no idea what you are asking mr. Cochran, my history books told me the course of the war made perfect sense in the 1960s and they are telling me it makes perfect sense now. See? No cognitive dissonance here!

    Actually being interested in what happened is a freakish position to hold, most people want stories not history. And WW2 has become a sort of founding myth of the modern West, with Hitler playing Kronos who must be chained in Tartarus or better yet Satan defeated by the forces of God who now have their very own thousand year reign of Christ where all injustices are to be abolished. When once a reference to the Iliad or the Punic wars would have done today both the marginally educated and the very educated often reach for a WW2 analogy. I think this is telling. When people want to agree on some standard of absolute morality and decency no cultural relativist feels comfortable defending they point to the Nazis. Our morality is trying as hard as possible to be anti-Nazism or at least anti-21st century stereotype of Nazism. Without this last remaining moral foundation we might have to actually have to think about a moral basis for our (global or Western) civilization now that we are basically done with Christianity. But that would be hard and uncomfortable. Also it is neat how it works out victory in WW2 is constructed to basically grant eternal legitimacy to our ruling elites. Makes sense, after the ancient war of the Gods, Zeus did get to rule the universe too.

    Mythology dosen’t need to make sense.

  3. dearieme says:

    “Why didn’t anyone notice?” For the same reason that the Germans didn’t notice: the Allies were very careful to hide the fact that they knew.

  4. Gene Berman says:

    I’d point out that your title’s a no-no–should have been En__ma (not allowed to say “n__”).

  5. AMac says:

    Somewhat off-topic — one of the current unappreciated enigmas of the Enigma story is the course of events after the Fall of France.

    The decryption effort had at first been Polish, led by Marian Rejewski (Wikipedia). Just before the official start of WW2, the Poles alerted the French and British to their efforts. Rejewski and colleagues were evacuated in the fall of 1939, becoming the heart of the French Army’s BRUNO project in Gretz-Armainvillers, 40 km south of Paris. After the Fall of France in June 1940, the Poles, French, and others who had cracked Enigma moved to Uzes — in Vichy territory — where they set up the Cadix station, with the support of Petain’s Defense Minister, Gen. Weygand. Cadix wasn’t disbanded until November 1942, at which point Rejewski and some fellow Poles made their way to London via Spain.

    The security of an operation of the utmost importance to the Allies was thus very vulnerable to compromise from June 1940 on. Obviously, the Germans never learned what some of their Petainist collaborators knew.

  6. Jim says:

    I have heard that Arne Beurling also decrypted Enigma. He worked for Swedish intelligence during the war. So the Swedes were also able to read the German communications.

  7. Jim says:

    Supposedly the Swedes warned the Soviets of Operation Barbarossa but the Soviets didn’t believe them.

    • tschafer says:

      Stalin never believed anyone, except Hitler. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

    • Rachelle says:

      Britain attempted to warn Stalin of Barbarossa but he dismissed the warnings as capitalist shenanigans.

      As for the question why nobody noticed that German communications were being decrypted, somebody did notice–Hitler did. Or at least he strongly suspected that German codes were being broken and he repeatedly asked about their security only to be assured that it was impossible to breach the machine generated codes.

      If memory serves, one of the reasons the Battle of the Bulge came as such a surprise was in part due to Hitler’s insistence on much tighter communication security. In that instance being able to read German messages may have worked against the Allies. American troops on the line about to be attacked reported a lot of German activity in front of them suggesting an impending assault, but those warnings were dismissed as being little more than inexperienced or weary troops getting a case of the vapors. Perhaps if Allied commanders were not so confident that they knew everything the Germans were up to because of Ultra they might have taken the warnings from the people on the ground a little more seriously.

      • gcochran9 says:

        Made possible by the fact that the Germans were now inside Germany, and thus could use secure landlines.

      • Rachelle says:

        Re the Germans and secure land lines.

        Even in WW I both armies laid extensive land lines for communication. I imagine that the Whermacht in France, Belgium, and other occupied countries could use the extensive hard-wired communications in place there as well, taking steps to insure that some, at least, were secure.

        Basically, secure lines did not end at the German border.

        The reason for going off-air in preparation for the Battle of the Bulge was because Hitler worried that their Ultra communications might have been compromised.

        • gcochran9 says:

          For some strange reason, the land lines in France were neither secure nor reliable. It is almost as if the French didn’t like being invaded. The Wehrmacht and the Luftwaffe were spread out all over the place, and they routinely used encrypted radio.

          It was a lot easier to use land lines once the Germans were back in Germany. True, Hitler ordered it: but it wouldn’t even have been possible in most of the conflict.

      • Sean says:

        The Allies didn’t know that the Das Reich division was in France, though as it turned out the division was in no hurry to reach the battle (Hastings ‘Das Reich’) . The landlines were intact enough to be priority targets for bombing in the days before the invasion, so as to force radio use.

        • gcochran9 says:

          Sean, you are a moron. The Allies did know that Das Reich was in France. It’s mentioned in Hasting’s book, which I have and have read, of course. “2nd SS Panzer will .. be concentrated in a forward area by D + 3” – from a British intelligence assessment of German armored capacity drawn up 3 weeks before Overlord. . “in no hurry” is also nonsense. As for cutting landlines, the French were quite capable of that. The next false and stupid thing you post gets you banned.

      • Sean says:

        They didn’t find out about Das Reich by Enigma decryption, in was though Resistance attack capturing divisional insignia. Tsouras in Disaster at D-Day is correct that the landlines were a prime target. presumably because they were largely intact .The 2nd ss did not rush to Normandy, Hastings has said this, maybe in his ‘Overlord’, or maybe one of his frequent newspaper reviews

        • gcochran9 says:

          It is of course true that Das Reich moved to Normandy as rapidly as they could – although Maquisards and Allied air interfered greatly. You are banned.

    • Sean says:

      The German ambassador warned Stalin that Hitler was going to attack. Soviet intelligence had excellent sources What Stalin Knew p.76. Stalin thought capitalist powers would turn on each other in line with communist theory. Those Soviet intelligence officers foolish enough to tell him different were marked for death. The top ranking one to warn of an impending attack was arrested after the invasion and shot a few months later.

      • tschafer says:

        An argument could be made that the primary reason the USSR lost the Cold War, and almost lost WWII, is that it’s leaders actually believed in Communism.

      • “An argument could be made that the primary reason the USSR lost the Cold War, and almost lost WWII, is that it’s leaders actually believed in Communism.”

        I wonder if liberalism will fail for same reason.

      • saintonge235 says:

        The Russian concealing of what really happened with their intelligence collection and analysis makes it impossible to evaluate Stalin’s reasoning in 1941.

        One answer was that Soviet intelligence overestimated the common-sense of the Germans. It seemed obvious that they couldn’t knock out the USSR in a few months, so they would obviously have to fight a winter campaign. But intelligence reported there was no sign that the Wehrmacht was being equipped to operate in a Russian winter. So they had to be doing something other than getting ready to invade . . .

  8. Gene Berman says:


    I came back to put up just what you’ve said. Good–saves some tiresome composition. I’d also note that credit for “shortening of the war” comes from someone at Bletchley Park commenting on that contribution of the 3 Polish mathematicians who turned over (to the British and the French in 1939) the fruits of their labors (since 1932). They turned up at Bletchley Park in 1943 after some time in (Spanish) prison but were (for secrecy reasons) put to work on non-Enigma tasks. Nor did most of the people there have any idea of their prior close involvement (with Enigma).

    Also, it was fortuitous that, very early on (1932) one of the three made the lucky breakthrough of simply guessing an encrypted passage was the question “When was Kaiser Wilhelm born?” and its answer: “17__” (I forget).

  9. j says:

    Enigma was effective in marine warfare where communications are vital, but was of little use in land, where Hitler managed the operations. Hitler used to take decisions on the whim of the moment, like delaying Barbarossa to punish the Greeks (or Yugoslavians), and Hitles was an enigma even for ENIGMA.

    • gcochran9 says:

      Well, since the Wehrmacht used radio Enigma messages all the time, you are wrong. Even whims take time to execute, and we very often had days of warning from decryption of Enigma messages. Sometimes far more.

      Like at Mortain. Bradley had time to rush every available artillery battalion to the threatened sector The German offensive stalled, and led to the Falaise pocket.

      Or consider that Montgomery knew the German plan of attack at Adam Halfa, including the date. Or Alamein: nice to know that Rommel’s out of town. .

      Moreover, since the same codes were used for reporting logistics, we often knew the exact state of the other side: troops available, numbers of working combat vehicles, ammunition and gas reserves.

  10. j says:

    To try to answer the title question, the Allies did not trumpet the success of Enigma because there was little to trumpet. They carefully avoided operations that would have alerted the Nazis, and I am sure they even sacrificed their own people and material, as well as of their Allies, in order to convince the enemy that they knew nothing.

    • Sean says:

      Not true. The British Navy repeatedly used Enigma decrypts to get individual U-Boats at their rendezvous with German supply ships. The Germans really needed a good bookie.

  11. Nanonymous says:

    Enigma shortened the war by at least a year.

    Is it really a consensus now? How did Bletchley Park decryptions affect the course of the war on the East front? Where does one year fit there? Sounds doubtful.

    • Sean says:

      The US generals’ accounts don’t talk about the battleship guns at all but the Germans thought it was decisive – ‘Brute Force’: “The naval guns were equally decisive during the panzers’ last fling around Mortain, on 7 August”

      In North West Europe the much of the Allies advance away from the coast was at the speed the heavy artillery could be moved up. The Germans were simply bombarded (spotter planes cruised over the battlefield all day pinpointing them) until they moved back to positions out of range, and the artillery was moved forward to start the process again. Apart from Hitler’s ordered attack at Mortain (which his Generals thought was futile) , what German attacks were there to be revealed? I’m not sure how the Enigma information could have made a difference in Normandy. A year is far wide of the mark IMO.

      • gcochran9 says:

        Nonsense all around. Mortain is more than 30 miles from the ocean. No naval artillery had that great a range. And the idea that the Allied advance moved at the speed of the heavy artillery is equally absurd. Have you been hit on the head? repeatedly?

      • Sean says:

        OK, I was embarrassingly wrong, that battle was out of range. But the Germans’ best divisions had been badly weakened by naval gunfire by that time . EG the divisional commander of 12th SS was killed by naval gunfire on his command post on 14th June. (located by Enigma decrypt for all I know). Kirk asked Bradley to stop calling on the the battleship guns so much as they were going to be needed in the Med and the barrels were wearing out. I’ve read the Allies did rely on artillery to shift the Germans. Artillery is underestimated, EG some estimates have Nebelwerfers being responsible for 80% of Allied casualties in NW Europe.

  12. Gene Berman says:

    Dr. Cochran:

    Of course, the history of WW II makes more sense when we have fuller, more accurate information
    from which to fashion “sense.” But the lack of that “fuller, more accurate” never prevents people from “making sense”…of anything at all, even when they have to assume sorcery, involvement of gods, or conspiracy theories; one way or another, “sense” will get made out of whatever with which we’ve got to work. Even recognition of some as-yet dimly understood portion is part of the “sense-making” process (and a mainspring of both applied and “pure” science).

    It’s commonly said that “you don’t know what you don’t know.” On one hand, it’s a truism; but on the other, it’s a recognition that knowledge of one’s ignorance is, in itself, a form of knowledge–the form likely to provoke acquisition of the very knowledge necessary to dispel the ignorance.

  13. Rachelle says:

    Despite the arguments that Ultra ended the war a year earlier than otherwise or, for that matter, that the West could not win without Soviet help [not true] the fact remains that the only demonstrable shortening of the war for any reason is 4 months.

    I refer, of course, to the period between the German surrender in May and the bombing of Hiroshima in August. Whether Germany was still in play or not, the war was going to end in August….with or without Ultra.

    • gcochran9 says:

      The contribution of the Soviet Union was of course crucial. You’d have to be an idiot to think otherwise. Yet you do think otherwise…

      • Rachelle says:

        I did not say the Soviet contribution was not crucial [in the sense of extremely important rather than determinative]. I said we could have won the war without them. Only an idiot could fail to see the distinction. Certainly it would have been harder, but not out of the question. Russia dropped out during WW I and the allies continued the fight to the end without them. History has already shown it is possible for the West to win a war against Germany without the masses of Russia.

        One should remember, as well, that without the Soviet contribution there might not have been a war. Hitler’s attack on Poland was in co-ordination with the Soviet Union which attacked from the East. In this sense Germany and the Soviet Union began the war as allies.

        In any event, assume that the Soviet Union did not end up allied with the West and that England managed to hang on with American help until August 1945. How do you think the war would have ended once a B-29 dropped atomic bombs on Berlin and Hamburg? You seem to be missing a point here.

        • gcochran9 says:

          The conflict with the Soviets used up more than half of the German war economy. If there had been no such conflict, the Germans would have used that production on… something. It is hard to say what that something would have been, but I doubt if we would have enjoyed it. If the Germans had continued to have access to Russian resources such as oil (as they did after the Hitler-Stalin Pact and before Barbarossa), it would have been even worse. Would the Western Allies have won? Probably. Maybe. The Germans were quite capable of building atomic weapons: with more resources available, maybe they would have. As it was they spent considerably more on developing and building the V-2 than we did on the Manhattan project.

        • Jerome says:

          ” Certainly it would have been harder, but not out of the question.”

          The Soviet Union suffered over 8 million military dead during WWII. Germany a little over 5 million. They mostly killed each other.The Americans and the Brits together took less than a million. So, “It would have been harder” seems like a bit of an understatement. Total war is won by destroying the enemy’s ability to wage war. It is interesting reading Grant’s and Eisenhower’s memoirs. Both men give occasional fleeting glimpses of what it felt like to be a fundamentally decent man whose profession, duty and even inclination led him to operate a gigantic meat grinder into which the armies of both sides were fed more or less indiscriminately.

      • Rachelle says:

        I don’t know where you got the idea that the Germans spent considerably more on building the V-2 they we did on the Manhattan project, but that is almost certainly ridiculously untrue.

        The V-2 required nothing on the combined scale of Oak Ridge, Los Alamos, and Hanford..not to mention the B-29 needed to carry it. Niels Bohr had said before the atomic bomb was developed that almost a whole country would have to turn to the task of building a bomb for it to succeed and, therefore, it was impractical. When after the war he was shown some of the facilities he supposedly remarked ‘See, I told you it would take a whole country to do it!” It was an enormous and incredibly expensive project.

        The project for our bomb was begun, of course, because of fears that Germany was working on one and we could not dare to let them get to it first. After the war it was apparent that German efforts to create an atomic bomb were somewhat half hearted. They certainly had some of the talent needed to make one, Heisenberg for one, but Heisenberg rather self servingly claimed after the war that he only pretended to work on it while he really sabotaged the effort. Maybe. I suspect enthusiasm for the idea of the project far more than politics would have made his effort serious, but if that was the case it was convenient to accept his fictions just as it was to accept those of Von Braun.

      • sr says:

        Come August 1945, the Americans can drop atom bombs at will.. first a few, then more, for as long as it takes, and there’s not a damn thing the Germans could have done about it. The only way we could have failed to defeat Germany is if scruples intervened and we fought a half-assed war (like every war we have historically fought since 1945), but we showed little tendency to be half-assed against that particular enemy, and I find it unlikely that we would have been shy about using nukes on the Germans. That’s what they were made for in the first place.

        It’s true that Germany spent about as much on the V2 project as we spent on the Manhattan Project. So what? The V2 was worse than useless (probably cost the Germans more than the value of the damage done to the British), whereas nukes were a war winner.. or would have been, if the war hadn’t already been essentially won before they were ready. If they had realized in August 1945 that they should have been building nukes instead, they would have too late – it would be kind of hard to get a Manhattan Project going on while your cities were being obliterated.

        I’d go further than saying the US could have defeated Germany even if the USSR had been defeated – the US could have defeated Germany even if Russia had been a 100% committed ally of the Germans, if the will to do so had existed.

    • Rachelle says:

      Correction on my part. Wikipedia does, indeed, say that the V-2 and V-1 projects cost more than the Manhattan project.

      “The German V-weapons (V-1 and V-2) cost $3 billion (wartime dollars) and was more costly than the Manhattan Project that produced the atomic bomb ($1.9 billion).”

      Hard to imagine why given the scale of the Manhattan project, but perhaps it is true.

      • Rachelle says:

        Add the B-29 for delivery ($3 bil.).

      • tschafer says:

        Certainly the Western Allies would probably have won if the USSR had been taken out, but but it would have taken until 48 or 49, and cost millions more in American dead. And had Hitler and Stalin remained allies, it’s hard to see how anything better than a stalemate could have resulted for the West. Hitler’s decision to launch Barbarossa was probably the most fateful decision of the twentieth century. We lucked out there…

    • Sean says:

      Resources were not the limiting factor; as your point about V weapons indicates Hitler was misinformed about the possibilties of an atomic bomb, according to one source the scientific advisor mislead Hitler by telling him the possibility lay far in the future. Reportedly the advisor said this was because Hitler would have demanded they drop everything and concertrate on a crash program to build an atomic bomb, if he’d been told a German nuke was a practicable possibiity in a WW2 timeframe.

      Assuming the Germans had early on began to try for a Nuke the US would have surely known (Enigma) and poured more effort into their own program, likely they both would have had one about the same time. I don’t see how the Germans would have be able to use their A bomb. The Germans would have been pushed back by conventional forces, but Germany would not have been invaded. The US would have been aggressive with a bomb (being difficult to hit across the ocean) they’d have threatened nuclear retaliation on Germany, if Germany used their nuked the Soviets into defeat. So nukes probably would not have made a difference, except to Japan.

  14. Steve Sailer says:

    Samuel Eliot Morison’s history of the US Navy in WWII from the 1960s has a line in it that says something like, Anglo-American success against German subs from mid-1943 on was so thorough you might almost suspect they knew the German battle plans. Or something like that. I presume that Morison, who was a super-Establishment insider, knew and was dropping a hint for future readers.

    • Rachelle says:

      I recall that now that you mention it. I shouldn’t be surprised if Morrison knew of Ultra. The Allied protocol, of course, was not to take advantage of Ultra information unless it was possible to make it appear that they had gotten the information from other sources. It was painful to let targets slip away unmolested when no plausible alternative explanation for knowing of them could be presented.

      Of course, as the war progressed the Allies developed quite a few methods for going after U-Boats that would not compromise the use of Ultra. I once worked with a lawyer who was a retired Navy pilot who flew a B-24 on sub killing missions over the Atlantic. I asked if he ever got one. “We thought we might have had a target one time, but we weren’t sure.” Most of his war was flying over open and empty sea, and he was not the only one. We had a lot of planes looking for the bastards in a lot of ocean. As radar and other technologies improved the survivability of a German sub decreased rapidly and would have done even without Ultra. I think something like 90% were killed.

      You probably read about the Ultra squad set up during the North African campaign.
      Generally they came to mess without wearing their heavy, hot steel helmets. Then one day they did and by coincidence the camp was bombed. Next day, they showed up without helmets and the camp wasn’t molested. Then again, they mysteriously broke with their usual habit and showed up wearing their tin pots. The camp was bombed again. Everyone began watching them to see whether they should wear their own helmets. At that point, it was too clear that these guys had access to special information so they were ordered to wear their helmets all the time or go without all the time. No sartorial adjustments based on Ultra information were allowed. Painful to think how so easily a vital secret could leak out. Fortunately, the Germans didn’t notice this time.

    • saintonge235 says:

      In one of Ladislas Farrago’s books, he mentions a case of several subs (iirc) that were sent to the U.S. East Coast on a special mission relatively late in the war. They were intercepted rather handily, and he more or less says that Tenth Fleet must have had knowledge of their plans via some form of intelligence.

      But the Germans had a will not to believe their messages were being read.

  15. dave chamberlin says:

    The Battle of Midway where four Japanese aircraft carriers were sunk compared to only one US aircraft carrier was the direct result of code breaking. It absolutely shortened the war in the Pacific. The Japanese couldn’t replace those aircraft carriers and thereafter their offensive operations were limited. The US knew the Japanese were launching a major operation June 4th or 5th at location AF but they didn’t know where AF was. After leaking false information that Midway was experiencing water filtration problems they intercepted the Japanese message that AF was experiencing water shortages. So they knew where and when the Japanese fleet would be and that lead to a decisive victory from which the Japanese never recovered because they couldn’t replace those lost aircraft carriers. Germany’s best bet to get England out of the war was not to attack it but to win a tonnage war by blowing up all shipping coming to it with it’s U boat fleet. There was the “happy time” for German U-boats from June 1940 till February 1941 when it looked like this strategy was going to work. England simply cannot surrvive without imports. One of the reasons that Germany ran out of U boats before England and it’s allies ran out of merchant ships was the capturing of the more complex enigma machines on U boats.

  16. Wes says:

    If German movements were so thoroughly anticipated, how could it have gone unnoticed by those in elite positions in Germany military? Is it crazy to ask if some key intelligence figures in Third Reich were compromised in some sense?

    • Rachelle says:

      Admiral Canaris, head of the Abwehr, military intelligence, was compromised. I suspect he was not the only one, but I cannot recall others at the moment.

      I believe that Allied use of Ultra probably helped feed Hitler’s growing paranoia about his generals. He was clever enough to see that something peculiar was going on and causing problems, but there were so many possibilities to choose from. Decryption of German codes and treason by German generals among them.

  17. sr says:

    The Germans had good reason to believe Enigma had been compromised, not only statistical reasons but direct reports from their own spies and from captured enemies that the Allies were reading their messages.

    Click to access Der_Fall_Wicher.pdf

    Instead of fixing their broken ciphers, they explained away or ignored the many indications that the Allies were reading their mail.

  18. dave chamberlin says:

    I just want to follow up with a general statement of what a pleasure it has been for me to follow up these posts with further eduction on these historical subjects via library books and wikipedia. Since Greg’s earlier posts that detailed specific actions on the russian front in World War Two I have read up on the subject and reccomend that others do the same. I now know for example:
    1)The Junker87 German dive bomber was equipped with The Jericho Trumpet, a wailing siren that succeeded in scaring the living shit out of people and made many a soilder drop his weapon and run for his life.
    2) The russian tanks couldn’t penetrate the armor of the better german tanks. One of the tactics used to defeat his tank was throwing enough molotov cocktails on the tank and then allow the burning gas to drip down into the tank burning the crew and blowing up amunition. Of course it was almost a suicide mission to rush a tank with a burning wine bottle in your hand but the russians were incredibly brave. .

    The Wehrmacht kept beating the crap out of the Russians with blitzkrieg encirclements yet the russians seemed to have an inexhaustable supply of new divisions to throw at the Germans. When Greg Cochran commented earlier that things had gone wierdly smoothly in the later parts of the war I think he is attributing this same tactic no longer working because we knew via intellegence where they were going to attack. I still don’t know to what degree this is true, because the Werhrmacht had ground itself to a fraction of what it had been on the Russian front pre 1943, continuous gas shortages prevented these same mechanized offensive manuevers, and the allied air superiority forced the Germans to hide their panzers to days with cloud cover. I love history and science books, I don’t understand why fiction is so much more popular, really I don’t.

    • gcochran9 says:

      In the beginning of the war, the Germans had trouble knocking out some of the Russian tanks: T-34s and KV1s. By the summer of 1943, the Germans were fielding much improved tanks (Panthers and Tigers) that were generally superior to Russian models – but were far more complex and expensive. Not all that superior, since the Russians were also upgrading their tanks (T-34-85s, for example). But the Russian models were produced in far greater numbers.
      As Uncle Joe said, sometimes quantity has a quality all its own.

  19. dearieme says:

    Dave, given your interests you might like to read Richard Rhodes’s The Making of the Atomic Bomb. It’s one of the the best specialist histories involving the Second World War: I think it’s quite wonderful on war, science and history. You even learn answers to questions that may never have occurred to you such as “Who held the patent for the atomic bomb?”.

  20. Deckin says:

    I guess the only salient and interesting question remaining is ‘Verbannt Sean?’

  21. I am doubtful that cracking Enigma drastically shortened the war. Someone mentioned its impact on the North African battles of Alam Halfa and Alamein, but a glance at the force ratios (and the length of the Axis supply lines) makes the outcomes fairly comprehensible regardless of an intelligence advantage. A few months earlier, Enigma did nothing to help the British 8th Army avoid defeat at Gazala. Enigma did help in the war at sea against the U-Boat threat, but I doubt that it was as decisive as expansion of long-range air patrols and other improvements in ASW.

    I really don’t think the Enigma disclosure 25 years or so after the war has fundamentally altered the historiography.

    • gcochran9 says:

      You’re wrong. Much of the Axis logistics problem in North Africa stemmed from efficient interception of supply ships. The British knew when they were sending over supplies from Italy. They would then send out a search plane with an unusual mission: the plane was there to be seen, not see (since the British already knew). They would then proceed to sink the ship, and the Germans would then have an untrue but conventional explanation as to why. At one key point Axis supply ships were under heavy clouds. The British couldn’t arrange for them to see a search plane, but sank them anyhow, out of need. Back in Italy, Kesselring, who was no dummy, figured that there must be some information leak. He talked to Berlin about it – using Enigma – so the Brits neutralized his suspicion by leaking a congratulatory message to an imaginary agent in Naples.
      And then the Germans caught and executed that imaginary agent.

      Try playing a one-sided game of Kriegspiel sometime.

      • I’m not sure of the numbers, but my recollection is that a majority of those Axis convoys got through to North Africa in 1941-42 — Enigma & the Royal Navy had a crippling impact but never quite decisive. The strategic problem in the Western Desert campaign was that Rommel’s supply situation became drastically weaker the further east he penetrated, while the same was true for the 8th Army (prior to Alamein) as it advanced to the west. Necessary reading is Vincent O’Hara, _Struggle for the Middle Sea_ on the successes and failures of the Italian Navy in keeping the Axis forces in North Africa resupplied; and Martin van Creveld, _Supplying War_, which includes a strong critique of Rommel’s inattention to the logistical implications of his deep advances into Egypt.

      • David Pinsen says:

        Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon featured a detachment tasked with giving the Germans reasons like the spotter plane to not suspect their communications had been compromised.

  22. Dalvik libraries are based upon a subset of Harmony libraries and therefore may violate subsetting restrictions.

    Now, to continue your effort to get a patent, you wish to present new arguments.
    ‘Following Confederation in 1867, the Patent Act of 1869 standardized the patent process for the provinces of the new Dominion of Canada,’ stated Library
    and Archives Canada.

Leave a Reply to gcochran9 Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s