Sunday, January 3, 2016

Unanswered questions of WWII cryptology – progress report

In January 2015 I wrote a summary of the progress I had made in researching some very interesting cases of cryptologic history. What is the state of these cases now? Let’s see.

1). US State Department strip cipher

This case has been (by far) the most difficult of those I’ve had to research. Despite this I was able to make real progress in 2015. I located the report ‘JAT write up - selections from JMA traffic' and used it to write an essay on the material transmitted from Germany and Finland to Japan, I received the report  I-89 ‘Report by Prof Dr. H Rohrbach of Pers Z S on American strip cipher’ and wrote Compromise of the State Department’s M-138-A strip cipher and the traffic of other US agencies.

Also during the year I managed to find a lot of material on the Finnish codebreakers and their work on the M-138-A strip cipher. Regarding the Carlson-Goldsberry report the NSA’s FOIA office has managed to locate it but releasing it will take time.

2). NKVD 5th Department codebreakers

No new information has been published on the work and achievements of the Soviet codebreakers except for some online articles in Russian websites. The article ‘О ВКЛАДЕ СОВЕТСКИХ КРИПТОГРАФОВ В ПОБЕДУ ПОД МОСКВОЙ’, referenced in the book ‘Near and Distant Neighbors: A New History of Soviet Intelligence’, says that in late 1942 the Soviet codebreakers analyzed the Enigma cipher machine and developed ways of solving it. However their efforts failed in January 1943 due to German security measures.

3). Referat Vauck success

After locating the reports of Referat 12 i was able to write the detailed essay Allied agents codes and Referat 12. I’ve also requested the postwar interrogation reports of Dr Wilhelm Vauck from the NSA. However locating and declassifying them will take some time.

4). Forschungsamt information

According to the NSA’s FOIA office the Forschungsamt files are coming up for review.

5). German Enigma investigations

The reports of the German Army’s codebreakers on the Enigma are available from government archives in the US and Germany. Unfortunately no one has read and commented on them.

6). Japanese Purple and Coral cipher machines

Regarding the possibility of the Germans solving the Japanese Purple cipher machine I haven’t found any new information but in 2013 I had a brief conversation with mr Otto Leiberich, who worked in the German cipher department during the Cold War period. He told me that he had spoken with mr Cort Rave about this case and he was able to give me some additional information. I’ll write about this soon.

7). Soviet diplomatic code

I’m satisfied with the material I’ve found but there is still the possibility that the Germans solved some OTP traffic during WWII. Even if they did it is possible that the files were destroyed during the war.

8). M-209 decoding device

In 2015 I said ‘I have to say I’m still surprised that this device has not received any attention from historians and/or the media!’ Since then nothing has changed.

9). Unknown unknowns

As Donald Rumsfeld said ‘….. there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don't know we don't know…’.

Clearly there are cases that researchers have completely missed. I’ve been able to identify one such case and will be presenting it soon.

1 comment:

  1. Carlos Henriques1/3/16, 4:29 AM

    Christo, I hope 2016 will bring more to the subject. Keep on the excellent work. Will we see a book from you on german WW2 achievements,compiling all the marvellous findings you have unhearted?