Deutsches Spionagemuseum (German Spy Museum), Berlin, Germany
December 4th, 2017

ALAN TURING VERSUS THE ENIGMA MACHINE

Alan Turing vs the Enigma Machine

Intelligence agencies, armies and agents use radios to stay in contact and the opponent has to listen in if they want to stay a step ahead. It is the circle of war. Rudolf Staritz (*1921), the last contemporary witness from Hitler’s military intelligence “Amt Ausland/Abwehr”, and Sir Dermot Turing, nephew of Alan Turing, are connected by the past. This event in the German Spy Museum brought Staritz and Turing together for the first time.

There is hardly another technical achievement with as mystical a meaning as the German Enigma cipher machine. It was made to protect the Third Reich’s radio traffic from opponent’s listening ears. At least that was the idea. It was not known until the 1970s that the brilliant British mathematician Alan Turing, and his team at Bletchley Park in London, had cracked the concept of the Enigma and had been listening in to all radio traffic.