|April 2, 2000|
Lifts Nazi Code Machine From UK Spy
LONDON (Reuters) - A
thief out-foxed a former British spy
center by walking off with a rare Enigma
machine used by the Nazis to send coded
messages during World War Two, police said
The typewriter-like device, one of only
three in the world, was lifted during an
open day on Saturday at the once
top-secret Bletchley Park estate where the
code was broken.
"At some point during yesterday
afternoon, the machine was stolen from a
display cabinet," a police spokesman
"There does appear to be quite a large
market for World War Two memorabilia and
if you are a collector then an Enigma
machine -- and they're very rare in this
country -- would be something you would
want in your collection."
Police said the machine, which used
revolving drums to encrypt messages, was
worth several thousand pounds (dollars)
but its historical value is impossible to
"This is a devastating theft,"
Bletchley Park Trust director Christine
Large said. "Very many people are
deeply upset and we are just hoping for
its safe return."
Historians believe the success of the
cryptographers at Bletchley Park north of
London -- code-named "Station X" during
the war -- in breaking a code that the
Germans believed was unbreakable hastened
the Allied victory by several years.
At its peak, the center employed
thousands of people -- an eclectic mix of
mathematicians, linguists and crossword
experts who handled millions of German
military messages every year.
The code-busters included Alan
Turing, a mathematician whose
groundbreaking work is seen as having
paved the way for the modern computer.
Bletchley Park's work was so secret
that its existence was not revealed until
the late 1960s[*], more than two
decades after the war ended.
The center was scheduled for demolition
but interest in the wartime exploits
related by former staff during a reunion
in 1991 helped lead to its
Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.
on this website: Wartime
SS and police messages decoded by
transports of Jews seemingly well
Sir Frank Hinsley's