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Enigma Machine and Its U-boat Codes - ENIGMA TODAY

ENIGMA TODAY (Illustration) Famous Historical Events Film Geography Social Studies STEM World War II American Presidents

Karsten Sperling took this photograph of an Enigma machine which is currently maintained at Britain's Imperial War Museum. The photographer has released the photo into the public domain.

 

Enigma encryption machines still exist. The lore of Enigma, submarines, secret codes and valiant men fighting on the high seas is the stuff of adventure ... and ... movies.

U-571, directed by Jonathan Mostow, created quite a stir in Great Britain. Upset because the movie creates a fictional tale based on historical events, Brits were annoyed (Capt. Baker-Creswell's son is quoted in this article) that the capture of the Enigma machine was turned solely into an American story, not a British one.

Even President Clinton jumped into the fray. He wrote a letter to appease upset villagers in the town of Horsforth who had raised the money to buy HMS Aubretia, the corvette whose depth charges crippled U-110.

In a wise move, Mostow calmed the uproar by seeking the advice of David Balme (whose words begin this story) as a U-571 consultant. Balme - initially upset with the direction things were going - ultimately gave the film thumbs up. (Follow this link to also hear David Balme describe what happened on May 9, 1941.)

One thing Mostow should have checked out, though. The real U-571 sank off the west coast of Ireland. She was done-in by depth charges from an Australian Sunderland aircraft on January 28, 1944 - months before the U.S. Navy captured U-505.

All hands were lost.

 

EDITOR'S NOTE: If you would like to send an Enigma-coded message, click here. If you would like to examine the parts of an Enigma machine in detail, follow this link.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5123stories and lessons created

Original Release: Feb 01, 2001

Updated Last Revision: Nov 29, 2014


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