Monday, April 30, 2018

Article on Chinese codes and ciphers

Interesting article from the journal Cryptologia: ‘Chinese cryptography: The Chinese Nationalist Party and intelligence management, 1927–1949’ by Ulug Kuzuoglu.


This paper is the first scholarly attempt to examine the history of Chinese cryptography and the role it played in building the intelligence network of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) from 1927 to 1949. Rather than investigating the institutional structure of intelligence, I focus on Chinese characters, the primary medium that made cryptology and intelligence possible. Given that the Chinese writing system is by nature nonalphabetic and thus noncipherable, how did cryptography work in Chinese? How did the state and its scientists reengineer Chinese characters for the purposes of secret communication? This paper argues that due to the Chinese writing system itself, Chinese cryptography was bound to the use of codebooks rather than ciphers; thus, “codebook management” was central to building intelligence networks in China.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Cipher systems of the German Foreign Ministry

The TICOM report IF-266 ‘DEPARTMENT OF STATE REPORTS ON THE GERMAN FOREIGN OFFICE’ has some information on the codebooks and cipher procedures used by the German Foreign Ministry during WWII:

Pages from the diplomatic codebook No4:

Use of cipher systems by embassy and consulate:

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Another dead end?

Last month i posted the recently declassified Carlson-Goldsberry report. A memo included in the report had the following handwritten notes: RG 84 box 1 and an NND number that looks like 857570 or 857560.

This seems to lead to US National Archives collection RG 84 ‘Records of Foreign Service Posts of the Department of State’.

The NND number doesn’t seem to be 857570 because that code is associated with reports of the ‘Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force. Office of the U.S. Political Officer. 2/13/1944-ca. 9/2/1944’.

Other combinations such as 851510, 857510, 851570 are not valid.

This leaves NND 857560. This code tracks to RG 84 ‘Sweden’ - Entry 3198 ‘Top Secret General Records, 1944 – 1952’.

This makes sense as that report was sent from the US embassy in Sweden.

One would expect to find the Carlson-Goldsberry report there.

So when I told my researcher to check this box I expected that I would be able to get the reports sent from Sweden in late 1944 summarizing the talks US officials had with the Finnish codebreakers.

Unfortunately both my researcher and the NARA FOIA office have confirmed that these reports are not there!

So why does the note say RG 84 box 1 NND 857560?

I’ve asked the NSA FOIA office if they can give me more information on where they got this document. If they respond maybe I will be able to track down similar reports in NARA.

Update: Unfortunately the response from the NSA FOIA office was ‘….we have no additional information to provide’.