Friday, November 22, 2019

Auction: Enigma encrypting machine used by the German military

 Military & Patriotic:WWII, "Enigma" Encrypting Machine Used by the German Military in...

Enigma machines, the vast majority of which were destroyed by Nazi Germany to prevent them falling into the hands of the Allies, were used during the war to send and receive encrypted messages. The three cipher rotor design, dubbed "M3", was used from 1934 until the end of the war. Considered nearly "unbreakable", its only inherent flaw, beyond human error, which would ultimately be its downfall, was the fact that the machine could scramble the letters into any one of 17,576 combinations except the use of the original letter. However, it would be human error, such as signing off each communication with "Heil Hitler" (as showcased in "The Imitation Game"), that allowed the Allies to deconstruct many of the cipher's coded communications. Though widely employed by Germany during the war, enigma machines are now very scarce, as those not destroyed now rest in unknown watery graves. Additionally, Winston Churchill ordered all enigma machines to be destroyed at the end of war. Not more than 250 used during WWII are now believed to still exist, with machines having matching parts, such as this example, even more rare!

The present machine is model M3 with the serial numbers of the rotors matching the machine itself (since the rotors were interchangeable, this isn't always the case). The serial number engraved on the plate attached to the keyboard reads "A/ 00660/ bac/ 43 E", matching the serial number "660" stamped on the plate underneath the rotors and also matching the serial number on the rotors themselves. The metal wheels also bear the engraving of the Third Reich emblem - a black eagle above a swastika. Upon the interior of the wooden lid are the operating instructions in German, above the "QWERTZUIO" mechanical keyboard which would light up when in operation. Twenty-six bulbs exist on the lamp board, with one broken. The socket locations are marked "Kabelprufung" (cable test) and "Lampenprufung" (lamp test). The original battery is still present, with expected corrosion. Part of the leather strap is also present, but no longer secured to the wooden case. All in all, an exceptionally fine & original example of this most iconic World War II artifact. Always in high demand, sales have been recorded in excess of $100,000. The entire machine and case weigh approximately 28.5 lbs. and measures 11" x 13.25" x 6".


  1. Want.

    With matching serial numbers, if this works then I'd think it would sell for $300,000

    1. I had no idea that there were so many still existing.