Friday, August 30, 2013

US intelligence budget

The Washington post has a nice article on the US secret intelligence budget. I found it strange that humint gets more money than sigint. What happened to you NSA? You used to get all the money…

Saturday, August 24, 2013


I added information from FMS P-038 ‘German Radio Intelligence’ and ADM 223/505 ‘Cypher security and W/T (Wireless Telegraphy) deception’ in The Slidex code.

Added a summary of ‘British intelligence’ vol4 in ‘Book review – British Intelligence in the Second World War’.

Rewrote parts of Dienstelle Klatt – A case of Soviet deception using information from ‘Foreign intelligence literary scene’ article: The legend of Agent Max’ and ‘The Crown Jewels: The British Secrets at the Heart of the KGB Archives’

Friday, August 23, 2013

The mystery of the Forschungsamt

The Air Ministry’s Research Department - Reichsluftfahrtministerium Forschungsamt was one of the major intelligence organizations of Nazi Germany. During the period 1933-45 the Forschungsamt monitored telegrams, mail and telephone traffic in Germany and also intercepted and decoded foreign radio traffic.

The Forschungsamt was created by Hermann Goering as his personal intelligence agency in 1933 and it originally included many former members of OKW/Chi, the codebreaking department of the Wehrmacht High Command.
In the 1930’s they were able to eavesdrop on the telephone conversations of Czech president Benes with his ambassador in London Masaryk, decode French diplomatic codes and might even have solved Prime Minister Chamberlain’s messages.

During the war they solved the codes of several countries and their greatest success was achieved against internal Soviet economic traffic. Unfortunately we do not know many details about their wartime work.
‘European Axis signals intelligence vol 1 - Synopsis’, p21-2 says that no evidence of their cryptanalytic successes was found and that less than 1% of the FA’s personnel were interrogated:

No documentary evidence bearing on its cryptanalytic successes was found by TICOM’…………..‘Goering's "Research" Bureau had over 2,000 personnel. Less than one per cent of these were apprehended by TICOM for interrogation’.
Is this information accurate? By looking at other reports it doesn’t seem to be. Even though the FA organization was dissolved at the end of WWII the most important personalities seem to have been caught fairly quickly.

According to the ‘Consolidated interrogation report SAIC/CIR/7 of 19 July 1945’ the sources used were Gottfried Schapper (head of the FA) and the high ranking officials Kunsemueller (head of Department 2 - Financial Administration), Rautenkranz (head of Department 12 - Economic/Political evaluation) , Rentschler (head of Department 13 - Domestic political education) and Gerstmeyer (liaison officer between the Foreign Ministry and the FA).
Another report TICOM IF-132Das Forschungsamt des Luftfahrtminsteriums’ - Hq USFET Weekly Intelligence summary # 12, 4 Oct. 1945’ says in page 2 that Georg Schroeder had recently been taken into custody. Schroeder was head of Main Department IV tasked with codebreaking.

From TICOM reports I-25 and I-54 it is clear that other important individuals were also captured in 1945, namely  Oden (head of Department 15 – Procurement and maintenance of technical equipment), Seifert (head of Main Department V – Evaluation of intercepted material), Paetzel (head of department 6 - Cipher Research), Fingerhut (member of Department V), Klautschke (liaison officer to OKW).
So in 1945 the Anglo-Americans had managed to arrest and interrogate several of the FA higher-ups. This should have given them major insights into the work and successes of the FA. Yet the relevant study ‘European Axis signals intelligence vol 7 – Goering’s Research Bureau’ released in 1946 is poorly written and filled with generalities.

How can this be explained logically? It is a bit of a mystery. Perhaps some of the important reports written by the FA higher-ups were not passed on to TICOM (Target Intelligence Committee) authorities. It could be a case of bureaucratic infighting/mismanagement.
Alternatively the FA could have had some successes that we don’t know about. Was it in the interests of the US and UK to keep these a secret?

We know that much later in 1950-51 several reports were written by Kroeger (one of the top cryptanalysts), Kurzbach (head of Department 11 - Foreign policy evaluation) and Hupperstsberg (head of Department 14 – Development of technical equipment used in monitoring) under the titles DF-240, DF-241. I’ve asked the NSA for the release of these documents but it seems this will take a long time…

Monday, August 19, 2013

German 80mm Photophone - Carl Zeiss Lichtsprechgerät

One interesting communications device used by the German Armed forces during WWII was the photophone. This was a device that used light waves to transmit speech over long distances.

The photophone models built by the Germans were constructed by the well known Carl Zeiss company. One of these, the 80mm model, was captured by Allied forces in North Africa and it was evaluated by scientific personnel.

The report they produced is called ‘The 80mm German Photophone’ and can be found at the US National Archives and Records Administration.
The file can be downloaded from my Scribd and Google docs accounts.


Additional information on the photophone is available from site and wehrmacht-awards.

Friday, August 16, 2013

More information from ‘It Wasn’t All Magic’

The recently released United States Cryptologic History: ‘It Wasn’t All Magic: The Early Struggle to Automate Cryptanalysis, 1930s – 1960s’ has some interesting information in pages 266-7 regarding the Japanese Purple cipher machine and the Soviet Longfellow cipher teleprinter.

Purple was used by the Japanese Foreign Ministry since the late 1930’s but after the war it seems that it continued to serve the Emperor! Apparently this time it was used to generate random diplomatic one-time pads. According to the report: ‘Somewhat later, Japan's reintroduction of the Purple machine to generate one-time pads for its diplomats proved quite useful to America's SIGINT monitors.

The Soviet Longfellow cipher teleprinter was such an important target for the American codebreakers that very advanced cryptanalytic equipment was built to decode its messages:

Much more ambitious was Hiawatha. In late 1947 electronic potentials finally came together with a cryptanalytic opportunity to force the release of massive funding for the long-sought Electronic Super Bombe. The elusive electronic matrix finally seemed ready, and at the same time enough had been learned about Longfellow to think that a bombe would allow continuous reading of its messages.

The attack on Longfellow was thought to be just a prelude to reading the rest of Russia's most valuable communications. The Cold War, it seemed, was to have its own Ultra.

Unfortunately this breakthrough could not be taken advantage of because the Soviets removed Longfellow from service in 1948!

Howard Campaigne, was furious with the Americans as well as the Soviets. When he learned that ERA's electronic bombe project was terminated, he wrote: "If we had complete coverage [of Longfellow] from the beginning [1943] we probably could have been reading their communications by 1945. If we had supported this by the analytic machinery recently planned, we could have broken out most of the available traffic. The entire story is one of 'too little too late'. This system was in use for five years, yet we were not ready to read it in quantity until it disappeared."

 If Campaigne is right and Longfellow was introduced in 1943 then it must have been the machine the Soviets called M-101.

Monday, August 12, 2013

German AFV losses in the Eastern Front

I’ve gone through the German tank and self propelled gun losses in the East here. The document I used had been posted at Axis History Forum but I also found it in Waffen und Geheimwaffen des deutschen Heeres 1933 – 1945, p278

Sunday, August 11, 2013


I added the following:

The main advantage from reading British naval codes was gained by learning of their plans to attack Italian convoys to N.Africa. In those cases the Italian command quickly warned the convoys and had them change their course.

and in the sources: Naval War College Review article: ‘The Other Ultra: Signal Intelligence and the Battle to Supply Rommel's Attack toward Suez
2). Added ‘Mathematics and War in Japan’ in the sources of Japanese codebreakers of WWII.

3). Added S.O.E. FIELD CIPHERS in the sources of SOE codes and Referat Vauck.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Papers please

Would you like to be a passport control officer in a totalitarian country? Who wouldn’t right?

Well now you’re in luck!

You can buy the finished game here or play a beta version here.

Glory to Arstotzka.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


In Decoding Prime Minister Chamberlain’s messages I had said that ‘The source for this information is listed as IF-132 ‘Das Forschungsamt des Luftfahrtminsteriums - Hq USFET Weekly Intelligence summary # 12, 4 Oct. 1945’ . Unfortunately I do not have this document’.

Now that I found it I added the relevant page that refers to the communications of Chamberlain. Unfortunately there are no details given nor is the source identified.
File IF-132Das Forschungsamt des Luftfahrtminsteriums’ has been uploaded to my Ticom folder.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

NSA, Snowden and Hollywood

They say truth is stranger than fiction. This is a trailer for the ‘Person of Interest’ tv series, that premiered in 2011. Ring a bell?