Thursday, March 29, 2012


I uploaded TICOM report I-172 ‘Interrogations of Hagen and Paschke of Pers Z S’. It mentions German work on British diplomatic codes.

Also added the following reports by Wilhelm Fenner ,head of the cryptanalysis department of OKW/Chi : DF-187 A-G, I-206 ‘Extracts from homework written by Min. Rat Wilhelm Fenner of OKW/Chi’ and I-200 ‘Interrogation of Min Rat Wilhelm Fenner of OKW/Chi’. 

I have to thank Rene Stein of the National Cryptologic Museum for the DF-187 files and I-206 .Also Frode Weierud for editing them.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Bletchley Park histories

I uploaded volume 1 of ‘The History of Hut 6’ and parts of volumes 2 and 3 in scribd. This is a postwar history of Hut 6 of Bletchley Park, the British codebreaking organization. Written in 1945, declassified in 2006.

Hut 6 attacked German army and airforce Enigma keys.

The files can be found at British archives HW 43/70-2.

Similar studies for Hut 8 which was responsible for the Naval Enigma can be found at :

Monday, March 26, 2012

Compromise of Iranian codes in WWII

Considering events in the Middle East it is safe to assume that the codes of Iran are undoubtedly a target of Anglo-American agencies. However even back in WWII the Iranian codes were targeted by the Great powers of that era. The codebreakers of the German foreign ministry were able to read Iran’s confidential messages.

Details of the German effort come from ‘European Axis Signals Intelligence' vol 6 - The foreign office cryptanalytic section and vol1 - Synopsis. 

From EASI vol 6 p29 :

The group head for Iran, Afghanistan and Arabic states was Dr Benzing. According to him all Iranian systems were read.

Iran (Persia): Dr Benzing stated that all the Iranian systems were read. The Iranians used three letter, 12.000-13.000 group, one-part or reverse alphabetic, enciphered code books.

From EASI vol1:

Also from TICOM I-22 'Interrogation of German Cryptographers of Pers Z S Department of the Auswaertiges Amt', p20

166. All the Persian systems were read. They used a three letter book with substitution tables, which often changed. The Persians however always indicated in clear which table was in use.

The Germans were not the only ones who were reading Iranian codes. EASI vol1 mentions that the United States Army Security Agency (predecessor of the NSA) had acquired copies of the codes and most ‘keys’ were read.

Sunday, March 25, 2012


I uploaded file Ticom I-203 'Interrogation of Herbert MARINIOK and Herbert Korn, Former Members of the Reichspost and OKW/CHI' .It mentions the A-3 descrambling device and also makes a reference to the 9 channel Soviet teleprinter system.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Leaders of the Rote Kapelle

The Red Orchestra was the name given by German intelligence to the Soviet spy networks operating in Europe during WWII. These networks had been set up much earlier and had managed to infiltrate government departments and business circles of every country in Europe.

Through their spying activity they kept Moscow informed of important events in Europe. Their means of communication was the radio and it was this means that led to their downfall. The German Radio Defence agency (Funkabwehr) was able to locate the sites used for radio transmissions in 1941 and by apprehending the cipher clerks and their code material they broke their code.

By decoding messages they uncovered the names of many Rote Kapelle members and of course these were arrested, interrogated and more people were incriminated. By 1942 the main networks were destroyed. All in all it was a great success for the German intelligence agencies.

The top people of the Rote Kapelle were Leopold Trepper and Victor Sokolov. Trepper was arrested on the 5th of December 1942 and cooperated in feeding Moscow with disinformation. In 1943 however he managed to escape from his guard and went into hiding.

Sokolov was arrested on 12 November 1942 . He also cooperated in the radio game organized by the Germans and the information he passed on to Moscow was deemed so important that he was given the order of Lenin in 1943. This success however ended in February 1944 when Moscow learned that he was under German control. Still they did not cut contact with him.

Here are the personality cards for these two Russian spies from British archives KV 3/351 ‘The case of the Rote Kapelle’.

Leopold Trepper -  Grand Chef

Victor Sokolov - Petit Chef

Sources: KV 3/350-1 , CI-PIR 120 ‘interrogation of Richter, Rolf Werner’ , ‘Deadly illusions’

Monday, March 19, 2012

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Problem with Google Docs

Since Friday my TICOM folder gives an error 500 if you try to access it without first logging into Google Docs. Several people have the same problem and we have left messages in the Google help forum.

If you log in to Google Docs and then click on the link it should work. Alternatively I have uploaded some of the files to scribd.

Update: Ok the problem seems to have been fixed.

Friday, March 16, 2012

General Gamba and the Soviet diplomatic code

In a previous post I looked into the possible compromise of the Soviet diplomatic code during WWII. The Germans had managed to recover a copy of Code 26 from the Soviet Consulate at Petsamo in 1941.

In a follow-up I had a look at more clues, including a British report that the Italian secret service could read the ‘Russian confidential cypher’.

This time I have found correspondence between General Gamba, head of the cryptanalytic department of the Italian Army’s Intelligence Agency - Servizio Informazioni Militari and Colonel Kempf of OKW/Chi.

Gamba in his messages mentions the Allied codes given by him to the Germans and makes some requests. One of them was the Soviet diplomatic code. But what could he make of it? Since the SU used one time pads to encipher the code even by having the codebook he would not be able to solve one message.

The German also responded along these lines: ‘The diplomatic ciphers have not been worked on for several years because the complicated subtractor recypherments make any success illusory’

The only way that he could use the Code 26 was if he had managed to get copies of the enciphering pads. Is that why he persistently requested the Soviet code?

Unfortunately this is just a theory. However the British message of 1943 mentions success with the Russian code. The only way the Italians could have read the OTP would be to have access to both the codebook and the enciphering pads.

Here is the relevant report TICOM D-71 - 'German and Italian Correspondence on Miscellaneous Cyphers'

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


I have added new information in article German success with the State Department's strip cipher. Thanks to Frode Weierud I managed to find details from article  Erich Hüttenhain- Entzifferung 1939-1945 by Friedrich Bauer in Informatik Spektrum, Bd. 31, 2008.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Overview of KONA units

When reading reports on German signals intelligence the word KONA often pops up. These units were the Signal intelligence regiments of the German army’s Signal intelligence agency. Each was assigned to an army group and was responsible for intercepting and decoding enemy traffic. From all the reports i’ve read it is obvious that they were a force multiplier for the army. They enabled the Germans to monitor and anticipate enemy moves.

An overview of the KONA units is available from ‘European Axis signals intelligence’ vol4 , chapter 3.

From pages 17-18:

11. The organization of the typical Signal Intelligence Regiment

The basic element of the field organization of the German Army signal intelligence service was the Signal Intelligence Regiment (Kommandeur der Nachrichtenaufklaerung, abbreviated KONA). Each Army Group was provided with a Signal intelligence Regiment (KONA), which had control over all signal intelligence units in the area governed by the Army Group. If, as was the case with KONA 4 and KONA 7, the Signal Intelligence Regiment was attached to a Commander  of the German Armies stationed in an area, the Signal Intelligence Regiment  had control of all the intelligence units within the area of that command.

There were, of course, variations in the organization and manner of operation of the various Signal Intelligence Regiments corresponding to differences in personnel, equipment, and operational responsibilities. The typical component parts of a Signal Intelligence Regiment, however, were; One Signal Intelligence Evaluation Center (Nachrichten Aufklaerung Auswertestelle, abbreviated NAAS), designed to work with KONA headquarters at Army Group level; usually one Stationary Intercept Company (Feste Nachrichten Aufklaerungsstelle, abbreviated Feste), designed to work at Army level; usually two Long Range Signal Intelligence Companies (Nachrichten Fernaufklaerung Kompanie, abbreviated FAK), designed to work at Army level; usually two Close Range Signal Intelligence Companies (Nachrichten Nahaufklaerung Kompanie, abbreviated NAK), designed to work at Army Corps level; each Close Range Company usually had two or three Close Range Signal Intelligence Platoons (Nachrichten Nahaufklaerungszug, abbreviated NAZ), designed to work below the NAK but still at Army Corps level.

In 1944, the Signal Intelligence Battalion (Nachrichten Aufklaerung Abteilung, abbreviated NAA) was introduced into the organization of the KONA. These battalions were small administrative units, which acted as coordinating units at Army level.


KONA - Kommandeur der Nachrichtenaufklärung - Signals Intelligence Regiment

NAAS -  Nachrichten Aufklärung Auswertestelle - Signal Intelligence Evaluation Center

Feste - Feste Nachrichten Aufklärungsstelle -Stationary Intercept Company

FAK - Nachrichten Fernaufklärung Kompanie - Long Range Signal Intelligence Company

NAK - Nachrichten Nahaufklärung Kompanie - Close Range Signal Intelligence Company

NAZ - Nachrichten Nahaufklärungszug - Close Range Signal Intelligence Platoon

NAA - Nachrichten Aufklärung Abteilung - Signal Intelligence Battalion (from 1944)

1 KONA = 1 NAAS  + 1 Feste + 2 FAK + 2 NAK

1 NAK = 2 or 3 NAZ

History of KONA units:

KONA units 1-5 were created prior to operation Barbarossa.

KONA 1: Assigned to Army Group South – Eastern front

KONA 2: Assigned to Army Group Center – Eastern front

KONA 3: Assigned to Army Group North – Eastern front. At the end of the war captured by the Russians at Courland.

KONA 4: Assigned to the German armies in the Balkans.

KONA 5: Operated in Western Europe throughout the war. Up to February 1943 was the only KONA unit in the west.

KONA 6: Activated in 1941 as an Eastern unit. Based in the Crimea during the Summer ’42 campaign. Then it was assigned the interception of partisan traffic. In early 1944 was reassigned to the West.

KONA 7: Activated in February 1943, assigned to the German armies in Italy.

KONA 8: Formed in October 1944 and assigned to Army Group South – Eastern front.

KONA Nord: Created in February 1945 from units of KONA 2. Assigned to Army Group North – Eastern front.

NAA 11: Special unit. Assigned to the German 20th Mountain Army in Finland. In matters of signals intelligence was directly subordinated to HLS Ost (Intercept Control Station East).Cooperated with Finnish signals intelligence.

Saturday, March 10, 2012


I have added information from TICOM I-203 in article  Intercepted conversations - Bell Labs A-3 Speech scrambler and German codebreakers’ .That report describes  the disposal of the 5B machine at lake Schliersee.

Also added the report mentioned by  Jeffery in article Compromise of Soviet Diplomatic code – more clues ?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Captain Beiko's doppelgänger

According to wikipedia a doppelganger is: ‘a paranormal double of a living person, typically representing evil or misfortune’. What does this superstition have to do with WWII history? Read on…

In the German occupied territories of the Soviet Union regular police units were organized to maintain order. Foreign Military Studies report P-122German Counterintelligence activities in occupied Russia 1941-44’ page 124 (available from fold3) has a fascinating story which illustrates the horribleness of the intelligence war between the German security services and the partisans:

The Feldkommandentura in Gomel ran six-month courses for chiefs of police. After completing such a course, a Captain Beiko was appointed chief of police of Novozybkov (Map 4). On the way to his post he was slain by partisans from the Batis Group. His uniform and documents wore taken by a partisan named Yagorov, who continued on to Novozybkov and assumed the duties of police chief on 10 July 1943. His real identity was not revealed until six months later, but in the mean-time he had corrupted the police to such an extent that 30 members had run away to join the partisans. As a result, the entire force had to be reorganized. Yegorov had been extremely cruel toward both the police and the local inhabitants and had encouraged robberies, excessive drinking, etc.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Soviet partisan codes and KONA 6

In the Eastern front the Soviet partisan movement caused constant problems for the German occupiers. The partisans attacked German soldiers, killed civilian collaborators and constantly sabotaged roads, factories, railway lines, bridges, telephone lines etc.

The partisan groups were in constant contact with Moscow and they used their own cipher systems to protect their radio communications. For the Germans the solution of these codes was given a high priority and in 1943 Signals Intelligence regiment 6 (KONA 6) was assigned to monitor and decode this traffic.
The person in charge was Oberleutnant Schubert and he successfully carried out this assignment. From summer 1943 the traffic was decoded and a lot of information was revealed. These messages were also passed on to the Abwehr organization.

Thankfully in this case we have information from all the participants of this operation. Details about the exploitation of partisan codes are given by:
1.    Mettig , head of the Army’s signal intelligence agency in the period 1941-43

2.    Schubert, cryptologist in charge of the program

3.     Kurt Friedrichsohn, a member of KONA 6

4.     Abwehr officers who received these reports

Let’s take a look at all this information.
1).From TICOM I-78 ‘Interrogation of Oberstlt. Mettig on the History and Achievements of OKH/AHA/ln 7/VI’ , p8-9

Crypto-analytic work on partisan traffic was carried on by the forward "Y" units in the area. Particular success was achieved in the SMOLENSK area with the arrival of specialist cryptographers.
It was only in the summer of 1943 however, when KNA 6, with Oblt SCHUBERT in charge of the cryptographers was committed to anti-partisan work that the traffic between MOSCOW and the partisans was successfully read.

Mettig mention KONA 6 and Oberleutnant Schubert. Information about this unit is available from ‘European Axis Signals Intelligence’ vol 4 - Army High Command Signal Intelligence Service, p32

17. Organization of KONA 6.
KONA 6 was activated as an eastern KONA at Frankfurt/Main in 1941 and stationed in the Crimea to work in the Caucasian campaign. After that campaign, its assignment was the interception of Russian partisan traffic. This remained its task until the KONA was detached in early 1944 and reassigned to work on the western front.

2).Horst Schubert was an Oberleutnant in the German army’s signal intelligence agency OKH/In 7/VI. He joined the agency in 1941 and worked on Soviet army codes till March 1943. Then he worked on Soviet partisan codes till late ‘43 .At that time he became head of the Russian section. 

In TICOM I-21Preliminary Interrogation of Oberst  Kettler, R.R. Dr.Huettenhain  Sdf Dr. Fricke and ObIt. Schubert (OKW/Chi), 15 June 1945’, p4 Schubert gives more information on his work regarding partisan codes:

Russian Agents systems were tried by Vauck, who said they could not be solved, later, he said they were digit substitutions and P/L encyphered with a One Time running key derived from a book. I worked on partisan and parachute traffic under front-line conditions. This traffic was a subtractor made from a book.

There was a double transposition system in the partisan traffic which was easily soluble up to June 1944. The transposition keys were derived from two key phrases modified daily. There was no limit to the length of messages and all messages on one day used the same key.
I was only superficially acquainted with Balkan agents traffic. This was done by the Balkan section not the Russian.

More details regarding the various partisan cryptosystems are available in pages 8-14 of TICOM report I-26. According to Schubert the Soviet partisans used mainly double transposition, figure codes enciphered with subtractor groups and various simple substitution systems.

The most common system was simple letter to figure substitution.

In some networks the figure codes were further enciphered using subtractor groups. The subtractor groups were either taken from a teleprinter roll, from tables or generated from an indicator. The teleprinter rolls were called ‘Blocknot rulon’ and since they were only used once they had the security of the one-time pad system. Additionally tables containing numerical groups for encipherment were also used.

When a group did not have access to teleprinter rolls or subtractor tables they could use numerical sequences generated from an indicator, using various methods.

The war diary of Inspectorate 7/VI confirms these statements and shows that the traffic of Partisan groups (Bandenfunk) was read since June 1943. First the 2 and 3 and 4-figure codes were solved and from August the 5-figure system could also be read. 

June 1943

July 1943

August 1943

According to the reports as long as the partisans did not use one time pad for the majority of messages their figure traffic could be exploited.
October 1943

3).Kurt Friedrichsohn served with KONA 6 and he mentions the work on partisan codes:
From ‘Report of interrogation of Kurt Friedrichsohn, former member of  Kommandeur der Nachrichtenaufklaerung 6 ‘, pages 9-10

Kommandeur 6 

"The NA Kommandeur No. 6 was in no way different from other signal communications intelligence units in the East. During the German advance in 1942 this unit was engaged in the southern section, and advanced there as far as the Caucasus (Maikop, Saporoshje, Krasnodar). After the Battle of Stalingrad the unit was drawn back, and settled down in Minsk. Activities were resumed there. The Kommandeur No. 6 consisted of the following:
a)     Staff Commander No. 6

b)     Intelligence Analysis Section No. 6

c)     Company 966 in Wilna

d)     Company 627 in the neighborhood of Lemberg

e)     Listening station near Riga

'’The Intelligence Analysis Section No. 6 was divided into the following departments:
"1 listening department

1 interpreter and decipherers, and analysis personnel
1 section of drivers, technicians, and kitchen personnel

The work was exactly as described previously. The unit was responsible to the Army, and had as a mission to pick up enemy transmissions and partisan transmissions. Radio communications from the partisans were very active, and were in part most revealing, as far as operations on the Eastern front were concerned. As to contents, the partisan transmissions were not very valuable, as they mainly consisted of reports of past operations, as for instance "the partisan unit OTRJAD "ARTJUHOW" has blown X trains in one week", or, "During an attack against a German unit, Y soldiers were killed", etc. Besides this there were also operational messages for the delivery by 'chute of supplies, prearranged signals by reception committees, etc., congratulations on promotions, new decorations, political slogans, and also troop movements. The transmissions always had a sender and an addressee; very seldom cover names, or general addressees, such as Chief. In some cases they were addressed very generally, such as, "To All Commanders".

KONA 6 intercepted Russian wireless messages until 1943, and after that time, wireless messages of Partisan groups behind the German lines in Russia. Among these intercepted messages, cryptanalysis was the most important. Traffic analysis was performed by the NAAS. Special trained men in the NAAS handled this type of work .…. The analysis of all intercepted messages were filed according to the heading on the message and call signals. After decoding the messages, names are put in, to find the net and units. The analysis of intercepted messages were sent to the decoding specialists of the NAAS after decoding and translating. They were sent back to traffic analysis and then to evaluation.

4).From CI-CIR No16 (Consolidated Interrogation report No16) - 'German Methods of Combating the Soviet Intelligence Services', page 7 (available from the fold3 site)
Sources: Maj Johannes Gaenzer , Hptm Helmut Damerau , Hptm Kurt Kohler. All three were members of the Abwehr.

(d) Signal CE work 

In view of the difficulties encountered by PAK III agencies in dealing with partisan-held areas, supervision of signal traffic-became of increasing importance. Nachrichten aufklaerung monitored all Russian agents, which was the concern of Funk Abwehr. Military signal traffic beyond the MLR was dealt with by Kdr der Nachrichten Aufklaerung 3 (this may apply only to the northern sector of the Russian front). Traffic from stations behind the Russian lines into partisan-held territory was handled by Kdr der Nachrichten Aufklaerung 6 at MINSK for the whole Eastern front. The Kdrs were subordinated to Chef Heeres Nachrichten Wesen in the OKH. Funk Abwehr belonged to WNVFu III (Wehrmachts Nachrichten Verbindung Funk III) of the OKW.

Nachrichten Aufklaerung 6 
Most successful in monitoring and decoding was Kdr der Nachrichten Aufklaerung 6, who furnished FAK III daily with decoded transcriptions of a major part of the W/T traffic between partisan and NKGB stations. Little of this traffic remained a secret to the Germans after Autumn 1943. The following are typical intercepted Messages which L/Stelle III Ost decoded and relayed to FAKs and FATS for counter-measures:

‘’To NKGB detachment NIKITIN. Observe traffic along road A to B. Note especially tank traffic. Your work has recently deteriorated. Your resident agents should be better organized and supervised. MAKAROV".
"To ZENTRUM. We have discovered that Ivan GE ASIMOV and Andrey ALEXANDREYEV, placed in the POLOSK city administration, are Gestapo double agents. On 4 July we shall send a group led by Comrade IVANOV to liquidate the traitors. NIKITIN."

The solution of partisan codes is another very interesting part of the intelligence war in the Eastern front. By monitoring their messages the Germans could anticipate enemy actions and take countermeasures against sabotage. The Abwehr could also use the secret information for its counterintelligence operations

In some cases it was also possible to reach conclusions about Soviet war strategy based on the tasks given to the partisans from Moscow. Orders for increased activity usually preceded a major Red army attack.
The exploitation of partisan communications by the German army could not lead to their total defeat but it did allow for their operations to be kept under control.

Saturday, March 3, 2012


I have added new information in article Soviet speech scramblers. Specifically  Huettenhain’s comments from TICOM I-2.

Also made changes to An Abwehr success via Moscow .

Thursday, March 1, 2012

An easy target - Italian codes and German codebreakers

Italy was, during WWII, the second member of the Pact of Steel. Italian military units fought side by side with the Germans in N.Africa and in the Eastern Front. However this camaraderie did not prevent the Germans from reading their ally’s codes.

In fact Italian codes were a major target of the German codebreakers from the 1930’s till 1943, when Italy surrendered to the Allies.

The agencies that exploited Italian codes were:

1.     The Foreign Ministry’s cryptanalytic department – Pers Z S

2.     OKW/Chi

3.     The Forschungsamt

4.     The Army’s OKH/Inspectorate 7/VI

All were quite successful in their work as the Italians were considered to have bad cipher security.

Since compromised Italian codes were a danger to German military units that operated close to them, the Germans tried to get them to upgrade their codes but this did not produce the desired outcome. In one case when a German cryptanalyst told them their codes were insecure he was locked in a room until he could prove it by decoding a message!

The Germans were also interested in the encoded communications of the Vatican. The Pope’s cryptographers however seem to have performed better than their military counterparts, as German successes were limited.

More information is available from the ‘European Axis Signals Intelligence’ volumes and from TICOM reports.

Pers Z

From EASI vol6 – ‘The Foreign Office cryptanalytic section (Pers Z)’  , p29 and p33

Italy. Work on Italian diplomatic codes was an outstanding Pers Z S achievement. From 1935 until late 1942, with lapses as new code books were introduced, Pers Z S apparently read all major Italian diplomatic codes. The 1940 reports from the Italian Group listed twelve codes, enciphered or unenciphered , all of which were read. The work became increasingly difficult in 1942-1943, for the Italians introduced bigram substitution over the additive on the basic code books, ‘’If the basic books  had been changed ,the traffic would have been impossible to read”. Some systems 'Were read after the collapse in 1943. Mention was made of Badoglio double transposition system which was never solved. Dr. Paschke mentioned three Neo-Fascist systems which were read in the latter stages or the war.

Vatican The 1940 Report of the Italian Group (Paschke) made it clear that while approximately 50 per cent of the Vatican traffic could be read, the traffic was not a major PerS Z S commitment. Reference was made to a onepart, three-letter code, enciphered by a transposition within the groups, and to a one-part figure code, enciphered by means of substitution alphabets and a  sliding strip. Most of the book groups were secured from Goering's "Research" Bureau (FA).

From TICOM I-22 ‘Interrogation of German Cryptographers of Pers Z S Department of the Auswaertiges Amt’, p3

25. Italian: Dr. Paschke was asked what success he had had with Italian systems.He replied that he had been instructed in 1935 to devote special attention to Italian and that the results had been the best imaginable; they had read everything ('Den schonsten Erfolg den man sich denkan kann; es wurde alles gelesen'). In 1942-43 work became increasingly difficult: the Italians increased their subtractor material before the collapse and employed bigram substitution over a subtractor over a book. If they had changed the book, the traffic would have become 'impossible' to read. After the collapse they read a Government code ‘Impero’  recyphered with figures from the encode, with little depth. Later the Government systems were not read for lack of depth, but it was thought that they used double transposition. The Neofascists had used a 5,000 figure subtractor; the peculiar systematic arrangement of the figures in the subtractor assisted solution very much. In the last three months the Neofascists had used unrecyphered books which were easily read, and an alphabetical book with a short subtractor called RA 1.


From EASI vol3 -  ‘Signal Intelligence Agency of the Supreme Command Armed Forces’ (OKW/Chi) , p67 and p69


Senior Specialist Raffel was head of the Italian desk. The section contained thirty-five to forty people and apparently had considerable success. Senior Specialist Paschke, of the Foreign Office Cryptanalytic Section (Pers Z S), said that between 1935 and 1942 his people had "read everything' in Italian, and it is likely that their results were passed on to OKW/Chi. We know that OKW/Chi read a diplomatic system called AR 22, and the Impero Code. Between 1942 and 1943 the Italians increased their additive material and employed digraphic substitution. After the surrender of the Italian Government, the Impero Code continued to be read by the Foreign Office Cryptanalytic Section (Pers Z S) for a while. Later, there was no longer sufficient depth to do this  and it was suspected that a double transposition was being employed. The systems of the Neofascist Italian Republic were also read by the Foreign Office Cryptanalytic Section (Pers Z S). They used a 5,000-figure additive; during the last three months, they also used unenciphered books and an alphabetical book with a short additive called RA 1.

Vatican, Greece:

Around the beginning of the war, a desk was established for attacks on Vatican traffic. Seifert, a former member of the Austrian Cryptanalytic Bureau, joined OKW/Chi at the time of the Anschluss and broke a Vatican book.

From TICOM I-21 ‘Preliminary Interrogation of Oberst  Kettler, R.R. Dr.Huettenhain  Sdf Dr. Fricke and ObIt. Schubert (OKW/Chi), 15 June 1945’, p3

Q: What work did you do on Italian ciphers ?

Huettenhain : We worked on them with success. We told the Italians but at first they refused to believe it.To prove it to them we finally sent a cryptographer to Rome and he was locked in a room until he had done so!


From EASI vol7 – ‘Goering’s Research Bureau (Forschungsamt) , p82 and p88

Italian Systems.
Enciphered code ,

Rentschler claimed some success on high grade Italian diplomatic systems. The Annual Report of the Italian Group of Pers Z S for 1940 indicated a fairly extensive Pers Z S - FA cooperation on Italian systems. Intercept of the FA was made available to the Foreign Office and from 1939 through 1940 there was a regular exchange of encipherment tables. In September 1940 and in November 1940 there was a mutual exchange of book groups on two codes AR 38 and RA 1.

Vatican Systems.
Vatican Code.

In  a captured Pers Z S reconstruction of a Vatican Code Book the signature of a Fraulien Titschak appears with the date of August 1939 and a notation that she had copied out values at that time for the FA (Fraulien Titschak was a member the the Foreign Office Cryptanalytic Bureau) .The Annual report of the Italian Group, of Pers Z S for 1940 indicates that while Pers Z S did some work on Vatican systems most or the identifications on Vatican systems were received , from the FA.


From TICOM I-78 ‘Interrogation of Oberstlt. Mettig on the History and Achievements of OKH/AHA/ln 7/VI’, p11

This section specialised in watching Italian traffic which was very insecure and most of which was read by the Germans, especially traffic from ITALY to NORTH AFRICA. In 1941 Hptm Dr FIALLA paid a visit to ROME, notified the Italians of their Weakness and requested greater security. In spring 1942 Hptm BIGGI of the Italian Army paid a return visit to In 7/VI and was enlightened as to the German use of Hollerith machines. The renewed request to the Italian for greater security in their cipher methods failed, just as the Italians were unable to set up their own Hollerith section. In 7/VI had not, in any case, the authority to put any pressure on the Italians, moreover, the general opinion was that the Italian cipher department under Gen GAMBA was not competent enough to institute changes; (in  matters of agents' ciphers the Italian section was more efficient). It was assumed by In 7/VI that German troop movements in AFRICA were betrayed to the British by the insecure Italian wireless.

From TICOM I-100 ‘Report by Uffz. Herzfeld of NAAST 5 (Gen. d. NA) on the Work of the Italian Referat of In 7/VI’, p2 :

In the beginning of September 1943 an Italian reciphering table and a number of messages from the cipher office of the Italian Commandantura at ATHENS arrived in BERLIN. They had been taken by some German officers under dramatic circumstances. When the news that MUSSOLINI had been arrested and that the Italian government had concluded on armistice, was received at German Headquarters in ATHENS, two lieutenants of Kommandeur der Nachrichtenauflaarung at NEA PHALIRON drove to the commandantura in ODOS AMERIKIS in ATHENS, walked into the cipher office and started collecting the material lying on the tables in the office and packing it into a case in front of the bewildered cipher personnel. They were in the middle of doing so when a number of Italian officers came in and began shouting rather excitedly. After some controversy the Germans thought it preferable to disappear quietly since the attitude of the Italians became too threatening. They did however carry with them what they had collected from the tables and sent it on to BERLIN where PW was charged with trying to find out what it was worth.

P4 :

PW resumed his work there, but in November 1943 Major LECHNER decided to dissolve the Italian Referat, a decision justified by the fact that after the fall of LEROS no more Italian wireless messages could be intercepted. It was believed that the Allies had prohibited further Italian Wireless transmissions.

In the end Italian cipher security remained low (although some of their high level codes proved too much even for Bletchley Park!) and certainly had unfortunate consequences for them and their German allies. Perhaps the Germans could have changed that by being completely honest with the Italians and presenting them with the full record of their success against their codes. Then again that would mean that they would lose their ability to closely monitor their ally’s moves. Choices, choices….