Monday, February 27, 2012

German exploitation of Soviet radio-facsimile traffic

Another interesting event during WWII was the interception by the Germans of Soviet radio facsimile traffic. Apparently the SU had a large number of these radio stations and important documents were sent this way.

The agencies that intercepted this traffic were:

1.  The  Army Ordnance, Development and Testing Group, Signal Branch Group IV (Wa Pruef 7/IV)

2.  The Army Signal Intelligence agency’s group VI , (OKH/GdNA Group VI)
I’ve managed to find information from various sources. Here are the relevant parts:

From Foreign Military Studies P-038 ‘German Radio intelligence’, p247

Facsimile transmission by radio was in extensive use by such Russian agencies as the NKVD and the Commissariat for Transportation. A net of about forty to fifty facsimile stations, several of which were in Siberia -- for instance, in Irkutsk, Tashkent, and Vladivostok -- transmitted hand-written communications, typewritten texts, drawings, and weather maps. However, none of the Russian facsimile devices over fell into the hands of the Germans. Nevertheless, the latter did succeed in intercepting Russian facsimile messages with corresponding equipment. Up to 1941 the Russians transmitted messages via facsimile in clear text. Even after the Russians had begun to use cipher machines, the Germans still had no difficulty in finding solutions and recording almost the entire facsimile output until the end of the war.

From IF-123  "Consolidated report on information obtained from the following: Erdmann, Grubler, Hempel, Karrenberg, Schmitz, Suschowk. CSDIC (U.K.) SIR 1717, p13


69. This referred to the transmission of photographic messages by wireless means. Such traffic was picked up from all over the world, including lines from Moscow to Stockholm; London to Moscow; London to Cairo; New York and Moscow etc. Non-Russian channels did not yield any valuable intelligence as the photos intercepted were normally only of news agency interest. Internal Russian traffic of this nature did ,however, yield technical diagrams and charts which were communicated by wireless methods.
70. Y traffic was picked up in Ref 1c of Gruppe VI. The activity was discontinued in Jan ’45.

Also ‘European Axis signals Intelligence’ vol2 page 87 mentions TICOM report D-58 ‘Description of facsimile intercept recorder’.

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