Monday, January 26, 2015

To err is human vol2

In ‘German special intelligence, the M-138 strip cipher and unrest in India’ I had said that the Western Allies were able to monitor the exchange of information on Allied codes and ciphers between Germany, Finland and Japan thanks to their solution of the Japanese Coral cipher machine. This was not correct.

Ralph Erskine pointed out to me that the Coral was mainly used by Japanese naval attaches and that the relevant histories of this system do not mention it being used for transmitting Allied cipher material. Further research at the US National Archives and Records Administration revealed that the code used for transmitting solved Allied cipher material was JAT, a letter code used together with a Gronsfeld square and a book containing random 4-figure groups.  
I’ve corrected the relevant passage in my essay and added scans from the document ‘JAT write up - selections from JMA traffic'.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Thursday, January 15, 2015


I’ve added telegram No 2.181 in Allen Dulles and the compromise of OSS codes in WWII.

The wartime adventures of Prince Max Hohenlohe

During WWII the military forces of the Allies and the Axis battled in Europe and Asia but behind the scenes there were efforts to negotiate some sort of compromise peace. These efforts however never amounted to much since both sides distrusted each other and the military situation made it clear that the Allies could win the war through military force alone.  

Since the 1930’s a segment of German society that opposed the National-Socialist regime had tried to establish contact with foreign countries in order to topple Hitler. During the war the same groups contacted US and British officials in neutral countries and tried to gain their support in order to remove the NS regime from power. The Western Allies were aware of these efforts but they did not offer material support to the members of the German resistance.
At the same time elements of the NS regime came to realize that the war was lost and thus made cautious attempts to contact Allied officials that could promote some sort of compromise peace. Heinrich Himmler was leader of the SS security service and thus one of the most powerful men in Nazi Germany. Yet by 1943 he was beginning to realize that hopes for a successful conclusion of the war were slim. His subordinate General Walter Schellenberg, head of the foreign intelligence department of the Sicherheitsdienst, had many talks with Himmler on the need for a compromise peace and in 1943 he was able to make the first attempts at contacting Allied officials.
The Germans knew that Allen Dulles was in charge of the OSS-Office of Strategic Services station in Bern, Switzerland and they chose to contact him through people associated with the German resistance.
In early 1943 Prince Max Hohenlohe (working on behalf of the Sicherheitsdienst) was given permission to travel to Switzerland and meet Dulles. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem like their meeting remained a secret for long. In the Finnish national archives one can find the decoded version of message No 2.181 of April 7, 1943, giving an overview of their discussion.

The original is available from the US National Archives and Records Administration - collection RG 59.

Both the German resistance (through Admiral Canaris) and the Sicherheitsdienst (through Schellenberg) had warned Dulles that his communications were compromised but it doesn’t seem like he acted on this information. These efforts for a compromise peace were probably doomed from the start (especially since the Germans seemed to have overestimated the influence of Dulles) but even so without secure communications the talks could not have remained secret for long.