Saturday, June 14, 2014

Decoded messages in the Finnish national archives

The history of signals intelligence and codebreaking is usually focused on the achievements of the codebreakers of large countries such as the USA, Britain, Germany, Soviet Union etc. However small nations have often managed to achieve great victories in the field of signals intelligence despite being hampered by limited resources.

The Finnish signals intelligence service of WWII was able to solve many foreign cryptosystems including Soviet military and NKVD codes and the diplomatic systems of the United States. Many of these messages can be found in the Finnish national archives. The decoded diplomatic traffic can be found in folders T-21810/4 and T-21810/5.
It is interesting to note that a lot of the traffic from Bern, Switzerland consists of reports on the German military and the war industry. These were probably prepared by the OSS Bern Station and the US military attaché Barnwell R. Legge.

Here are some of these messages:

Folder T-21810/4 –  messages of 1943

The Vatican requests information on POW officers in Crossville, Tennessee
Report on Soviet losses in 1941 by US Ambassador William Harrison Standley

Reports by US ambassador Laurence Steinhardt on negotiations between SU foreign minister Molotov and Turkish government

US report on Turkish asbestos exports

Office of Strategic Services requests that US embassy in Turkey pay 10.000 dollars to Albanian minister Dshadshuli

US report from Bern regarding shipping of raw materials essential to the German war effort

US report from Bern on German synthetic fuel production

Report by General Barnwell R. Legge, US military attaché in Bern, on German manpower reserves

Folder T-21810/5 –  messages of 1944

Turkish report on the troops of the Soviet Ukrainian Front

Turkish account of Molotov speeches regarding peace negotiations with Finland
US report from Bern on French resistance
US report from Bern on amount of food in the Netherlands

Report on French industry from British ambassador in Switzerland Clifford Norton

US reports from Bern on German war industry

The messages in the Finnish archives were located and copied for me by the researcher Martti Kujansuu. 



    I just wonder what kind of value this documents had. Claims on report dated 8th of April 1943 that Germans had taken casualties of 4 500 000 soldiers (death, missing, wounded). Surprisingly high overclaims compared these one:

    ...and knowing losses of Battle of France, Poland, Scandinavia and Norway (1939-41). However interesting how much they specualted figures of manpower outside the Reich (ethnic Germans).

    Surely Finns had info of real German losses until late March 1943. They have been something like 2 900 000 even with figures of capitulation of Tunisia. There is a gap of 1 600 000 between reality and hopes.

    1. That number is way too high. Check: