Segments in this Video

The Enigma Machine (04:22)


Enigma was Nazi Germany's coded message system that they believed was too complex for anyone to crack. In the 1920s, Polish intelligence got schematics of Nazi Germany's machine and hired German-speaking mathematicians to begin working on the code in 1932. They figured out the wiring pattern of Enigma and were able to build their own.

The New German Enigma (02:18)

In 1938, Nazi Germany changed their Enigma machine, which voided the Polish team's work. They met with French and British codebreakers to start again and the three groups began working together. Polish codebreakers fled or were killed when Nazi Germany invaded in September 1939.

Bletchley Park (05:28)

The British continued the Poles' work at Government Cipher Headquarters at Bletchley Park. The team had to break a daily Enigma key before they could start decoding the messages. Mathematician Alan Turning built crypto-analytic machines to decipher the daily key change.

Ultra Information (03:38)

Ultra was the code name for information taken from cracked Enigma messages. It was transported in secret to only a handful of British military and state officials, so the Germans would not know that Enigma was cracked. Workers at Bletchley Park searched through thousands of messages to find useful information.

German Naval Enigma (02:43)

The German Navy had a more complex Enigma code than the army did. British intelligence needed to break it to stop German U-boats in the Atlantic Ocean. British intelligence and naval officers were able to capture Enigma codes and machines from sinking German boats.

The Geheimschreiber (03:28)

The secrecy around Ultra information caused it to sometimes be ignored by Allied troops. In 1941, the Germans updated their coding machine, creating more work for Turing and Bletchley Park. They built Colossus, the first programmable electric computer, to crack the new machine.

Credits: Heroes Of World War II: The Men Who Cracked Enigma (00:20)

Credits: Heroes Of World War II: The Men Who Cracked Enigma

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Heroes Of World War II: The Men Who Cracked Enigma

Part of the Series : Heroes Of World War II
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When Polish agents sent a captured Enigma machine to Britain, genius cryptanalysts cracked the code and gave valuable intelligence to the Allies.

Length: 24 minutes

Item#: BVL185519

Copyright date: ©2002

Closed Captioned

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