Divers of the World-Wide Fund for Nature or WWF were surprised to discover a rare Enigma machine on the bottom of Germany’s Gelting Bay. The WWF divers were clearing up discarded nets to help ensure the marine wildlife’s safety when they saw an old typewriter looking machine caught up in one of the nets. When they hauled it on board, they discovered that the machine was not just a typewriter but is one of the Enigma machines used by the German Nazis during World War II.
The Enigma Machine. The Enigma machine was credited to German engineer Arthur Scherbius with his patent for a cipher machine in 1918. Scherbius’s firm, Scherbius & Ritter, began marketing their cipher machine, which they branded as Enigma in 1923. Enigma machines were commercially available during the early 1920s and were adopted by military departments of several countries. The German Nazis made heavy use of the Enigma machines during World War II to send encrypted messages across their units. These messages contained war strategies, which included selected targets and maneuvers.
An Enigma machine is capable of creating billions of ways to encrypt a message. The machine’s ability made it possible for the German Nazi army to send both printed and electrically transmitted codes without the Allied Forces decoding them.
Turning the Tide. On May 9, 1941, the Allied Forces turned the tides of war against the German Nazi army when a U-boat U-110 they captured in the North Atlantic was carrying an Enigma machine complete with codebooks and cipher keys. An Allied team of Polish and British mathematicians headed by Alan Turing cracked the German Enigma coding, which led to the Allied Forces shortening the war by two years.
How the Enigma Machine Ended at the Bottom of the Bay
Since Enigma machines were very effective in sending coded messages across Nazi units during the war, Allied Forces scrambled to get their hands on one. The Nazi army, on the other hand, took extra precautions not to lose any of their machines guarding them with their lives. When a German unit feels that Allied Forces will capture them, one of their orders was to destroy any Enigma machine in their possession so that the Allied Forces will have no way to decrypt them. One theory why an Enigma Machine ended up at the bottom of Gelting Bay is that the Germans must have sent it to the depths on purpose. This theory coincides with a May 1945 event when the German army purposely destroyed 47 of their Nazi U-boats to prevent the Allied Forces from seizing Enigma machines and other documents found in them.
In the meantime, the WWF continues their cleanup efforts for discarded nets and asks for volunteers to help in their efforts. Likewise, the WWF asks all divers who find historic artifacts under the ocean to handle them carefully and hand them over to their country’s respective historical authorities. Discovered items at the bottom of the ocean, such as this rare Enigma machine, are important in piecing together our people’s history.