Saturday, August 30, 2014

Upcoming essays

I think that I’ve covered practically all the important cryptologic cases of WWII in my current essays. In order to write more I’ll need access to files that the NSA is in the process of declassifying and that may take a while. However there are two stories that I’m going to cover in the future. One concerns the German research on the British Typex cipher machine and the other will be a summary of the work of the Agents section of the German Army’s signal intelligence agency.

Many authors claim that the German codebreakers had a look at the British Typex cipher machine and then gave up because they considered the task hopeless. Apparently that was not true for the German army’s codebrealers:


Referat 12
Referat 12 (Agents section) of the German Army’s signal intelligence agency OKH-Inspectorate 7/VI dealt with the codes and ciphers of enemy agents. During the war they solved the cryptosystems of British, French, Belgian, Polish, Czech, Russian, Greek, Bulgarian and Norwegian spies and saboteurs. A summary of their work during the period May 1942- February 44 (last available reports) is in order.



  1. Eager to read those essays. It's always fascinating.

    By the way, I'm interested in post-"Poets" Soviet systems. Information about it is scarce and I'm glad you signaled the release of the NSA paper "It Wasn't All Magic" some time ago. Going through open literature, I have spotted these sources :

    - Peter Wright, Spycatcher (1987) [mentions "Albatross"]

    - Seymour M. Hersh, "Was Castro Out of Control un 1962?", Wash Post, 11 Oct. 1987 [mentions "Silver"]

    - Bayard Stockton, Flawed Patriot (2006) [mentions "Albatross"]

    Of course some tidbits in James Bamford and Matthew M. Aid's books.

    Do you know other such references by chance ?

    Best regards

    1. Check the NSA study ‘Beyond BOURBON-1948: The Fourth Year of Allied Collaborative COMINT effort against the Soviet Union’. It has several pages on the Poets and Albatross but unfortunately apart from the paragraph titles everything else has been blacked out.

    2. Thanks, I has missed this one (it is not on the NSA page of declassified docs). The titles, even alone, are interesting. "replaced by Albatross, but not for long" is intriguing as NSA and GCHQ seems to have worked on Albatross for years.

      Strangely, it seems the NSA did not declassify the "Early BOURBON", "Middle BOURBON" and "Old BOURBON" articles.

    3. Albatross could have been the first device and the rest followed the same principles so they were also called 'Albatross' by people who didn't know the correct codename for the new Soviet devices. Kind of like the Enigma. People talk of the 'Enigma' when in reality there were several different models (K, G, plugboard, M4, Typex)