ENIGMA CODE BOOKS at STATION X (Illustration) World War II Film World History Social Studies

Here we see an example of an Enigma code book which Germany used during World War II. The title, Sondermaschinen Schlüssel, means "Special Machines Key." In this context, "key" is interchangeable with "code." Click on the image for a better view.


In May of 1941, when Bletchly Park’s code breakers received the secret tables of Dolphin - the German Navy’s Enigma code, which the Royal Navy removed from a captured U-boat - the event was beyond a stroke of good fortune.  

Because Fritz Lemp (captain of U-110) died during (or soon after) the Royal Navy’s attack on his vessel, no one will ever know why Lemp neither scuttled his ship nor destroyed his code books.

Georg Högel, a U-110 crewman, examines the situation with the benefit of hindsight:

You can’t change things in retrospect.  I had to leave because those were the orders.  And the unequivocal order was to leave everything behind and go up and climb onto the deck.  There was no other way.

The only book which didn’t end-up in British hands, after U-110 was captured, was Högel’s book of love poems.

King George VI called the recovery of U-110's Enigma codes “the most important event of the war at sea so far.”  

Turing and his team were ecstatic.  As Valerie Emery, a “Station X” employee recalls:

The prize was the bigram tables, and they were magnificent.  Although some of them had got a bit wet, and we had to dry them.

Fortunately, the code-breaking team had access to proper drying paper and were able to save the treasure. 

Almost immediately, having the bigram tables made a huge difference in the work at Bletchley Park.  Take, for example, what happened to the Bismarck.

After Germany’s mighty new battleship sank the HMS Hood, pride of the Royal Navy, Churchill ordered a retaliatory strike.  But who knew where the Bismarck had sailed after she sank the Hood on May 24, 1941?

Peter Calvocoressi, a Station X code breaker in 1941, later described how Bletchley Park played a role in locating the Bismarck:

Enigma-transmitted messages, by air-force operators, revealed the Luftwaffe’s preparations to provide Bismarck with air cover.  Those messages indicated the battleship was approaching a safe harbor at Brest [in France]

British air and sea power, with intelligence information from Bletchley Park, worked together to sink the Bismarck.

Soon after, supply ships and their escorts, traveling in the North Atlantic to/from Britain, benefitted from deciphered Enigma messages.

On the 23rd of June, 1941, Station X decoded a U-Boat message which saved a convoy.  HX-133 was heading for England, with much-needed supplies, when the code breakers in Hut 8 learned that a wolf pack of ten U-boats was lying-in-wait.  

The Admiralty ordered a counter-attack which lasted five days.  Two of the U-boats sank, and the convoy arrived safely.

This represented a major turn of events for Britain’s defense.  Station X had, in a way, joined the Battle of the Atlantic.  

Although the Naval code was still taking longer to break than the other branches of Germany’s military - on average, about a week during 1941 - the intelligence coming to and from Bletchley Park was stunning.

Within a month after the U-110 codes were delivered to Station X, convoy sinkings had dropped by a third.  With convoys rerouted away from the wolf packs, the Allies were able - for the first time - to foil Doenitz’ plan to win the war by destroying Britain's supply chain.

The results were not just defensive victories.  Within a month, Allies were able to sink seven out of eight U-boat supply ships because of information coming from Station X.  

Doenitz began to suspect something was wrong with the codes’ security.  How else could he explain the sudden turn of events, where Allies were sinking German vessels (instead of the other way around)?              

Others, however, suspected that perhaps it was French workers - who were then enduring Germany’s occupation of their country - who might be talking.  Whatever their reasons, the German high command did not believe that Enigma had been cracked.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Dec 31, 2014

Updated Last Revision: Jun 02, 2016

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"ENIGMA CODE BOOKS at STATION X" AwesomeStories.com. Dec 31, 2014. Jan 19, 2020.
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