Enigma cracking exposed?

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Princess Perfume
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Enigma cracking exposed?

Post by Princess Perfume » 23 May 2023 14:35

I'm a little high on pain meds at the moment but what would happen if the Germans found out that the British had cracked Enigma pretty early on and it is not leaking infomation all over?

Post war WI: the post-colonial countries find out that the West are actually selling them all these Enigma machines so that they can spy on them?

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Re: Enigma cracking exposed?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 23 May 2023 16:34

The Brits and the US pay more attention to other intelligence gathering.

Beyond the Enigma penetration the advantage the Brits built was a effective centralized intel gathering system. Once they got that running properly it gave them a advantage over the fragmented system the nazi regime had. Overall the Brits and US had other effective gathering systems. So, its not likely a war winner.

It even waives away some of the occasions when Allied intel chiefs put to much faith in the ULTRA briefs and neglected other methods. Mockler-Ferryman is a example. As Eisenhowers intel chief during the Tunisian campaign he failed to read the warning signs of the incipient Morning Air offensive. Kesselring planned the offensive in face to face meetings with Rommel & Arnim. There was no real radio traffic concerning the planned offensive. Consequently the US II Corps was caught by surprise, leading to the Kasserien Pass battle and all that. A similar thing happened with the US 1st Army G2 & the Battle of the Bulge.

As it was the Germans were not blind to the possibility of the Enigma being compromised. Some evidence did turn up. The counter measures they took were not enough as they neither understood the vulnerabilities of the machine not the ability of the Allies to exploit the vulnerabilities. Its also not necessary for the Germans to know the Allies had penetrated the system. If they had run their encryption methods better they could have shut the Allies out of most of the messages. Sloppy use of Key Settings, sloppy retransmission of the same message in multiple keys, sloppy use of date/time groups and other message identifiers, frequent use for unnecessary messages. The Lufwaffe was the worst in radio security & the Brits watched Luftwaffe radio traffic carefully for cribs and giveaways to the overall system. The Italians were better than the Germans in many features of radio and code security. ie: The Battle of Cape Matapan was aided by badly encrypted Luftwaffe radio messages transmitting the relevant parts of the Italian battle plan.

Being shut out of the Enigma encryption makes a number of differences at the tactical and operational levels, but in general strategy not so much.

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Re: Enigma cracking exposed?

Post by Princess Perfume » 24 May 2023 00:16

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
23 May 2023 16:34
The Brits and the US pay more attention to other intelligence gathering.

Beyond the Enigma penetration the advantage the Brits built was a effective centralized intel gathering system. Once they got that running properly it gave them a advantage over the fragmented system the nazi regime had. Overall the Brits and US had other effective gathering systems. So, its not likely a war winner.

It even waives away some of the occasions when Allied intel chiefs put to much faith in the ULTRA briefs and neglected other methods. Mockler-Ferryman is a example. As Eisenhowers intel chief during the Tunisian campaign he failed to read the warning signs of the incipient Morning Air offensive. Kesselring planned the offensive in face to face meetings with Rommel & Arnim. There was no real radio traffic concerning the planned offensive. Consequently the US II Corps was caught by surprise, leading to the Kasserien Pass battle and all that. A similar thing happened with the US 1st Army G2 & the Battle of the Bulge.

As it was the Germans were not blind to the possibility of the Enigma being compromised. Some evidence did turn up. The counter measures they took were not enough as they neither understood the vulnerabilities of the machine not the ability of the Allies to exploit the vulnerabilities. Its also not necessary for the Germans to know the Allies had penetrated the system. If they had run their encryption methods better they could have shut the Allies out of most of the messages. Sloppy use of Key Settings, sloppy retransmission of the same message in multiple keys, sloppy use of date/time groups and other message identifiers, frequent use for unnecessary messages. The Lufwaffe was the worst in radio security & the Brits watched Luftwaffe radio traffic carefully for cribs and giveaways to the overall system. The Italians were better than the Germans in many features of radio and code security. ie: The Battle of Cape Matapan was aided by badly encrypted Luftwaffe radio messages transmitting the relevant parts of the Italian battle plan.

Being shut out of the Enigma encryption makes a number of differences at the tactical and operational levels, but in general strategy not so much.
How much longer does the war last if they are shut out of Enigma - or indeed, the Japanese codes? nukes on Germany? Olympic and Coronet happen?

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Re: Enigma cracking exposed?

Post by OpanaPointer » 24 May 2023 01:28

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Re: Enigma cracking exposed?

Post by Peter89 » 24 May 2023 08:34

Also let's not forget that Germany had to run a system which was impossible to defend. They were supposed to utilize millions of foreign workers. They had to launch their major naval and aerial operations from countries which they recently occupied. Their allies were suspicious and keen to change their sides. While sheer German military power dominated mainland Europe, they did not have the "civilian" power to do it. Also they did not enjoy local support, nor could they establish a firm grip on their subjects like the Soviets. Yes they had collaborators, but that's different because the Nazis had no definitive plans how the future Europe would look like, so no nation felt secure with their future in their hands - including some Germans.

All these things led to a permanent penetration of the German intelligence.
"Everything remained theory and hypothesis. On paper, in his plans, in his head, he juggled with Geschwaders and Divisions, while in reality there were really only makeshift squadrons at his disposal."

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Re: Enigma cracking exposed?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 24 May 2023 16:19

How much longer does the war last if they are shut out of Enigma - or indeed, the Japanese codes? nukes on Germany? Olympic and Coronet happen?

Too many variables for me. I don't think the war last significantly longer.

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Re: Enigma cracking exposed?

Post by Von Bock » 24 May 2023 20:13

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
24 May 2023 16:19
How much longer does the war last if they are shut out of Enigma - or indeed, the Japanese codes? nukes on Germany? Olympic and Coronet happen?

Too many variables for me. I don't think the war last significantly longer.
The Ultra project coincided with the turn of the war, around mid 1942. It certainly had some impact on the sinking of Axis ships and U-boats, but the supposed battles where it 'decided' the result (El Alamein, invasion of Sicily, D-day) were battles where the Allies already had enormous numerical superiority anyway. It definitely resulted in higher losses for the Germans, but not really decisive.
In the entirety of WWII, Germany never lost a major battle they should have won and they won many battles they should have lost.

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Re: Enigma cracking exposed?

Post by Princess Perfume » 24 May 2023 22:19

What about political knock ons?

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Re: Enigma cracking exposed?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 25 May 2023 16:47

Examinations of policy messages from OKW & other originators provided reinforcing evidence there was little use in negotiating with the nazi regime. But, that was far clearer in analysis of the public speeches and policy statements published in the newspapers or or radio ones. Enigma decrypts were not needed to understand the nazis were completely uninterested in ending the war in any compromise.

Where ULTRA was of best service:

Battle of the Atlantic. This is the best known, and most distorted by sensationalism and pop history. Enigma decrypts were very important tactically and operationally at many dates in this four year campaign. Decrypts of orders to the submarine groups helped the convoys dodge intercept lines. Equally important to the BoA were signals analysis, directional finding-the Huf Duf system & its US equivalent. Air reconnaissance was also very important.

Ground war. Here its mixed results. Some Allied generals dismissed ULTRA sourced intel, others depended to much on it, still others had a balanced view. ULTRA assisted in the destruction of the HQ of Panzer Group West 10th June 1944, which ended the German attempt for a massed counter attack on the beachhead. There other similar examples of tactical successes, or operational assistance.

Air War. The Luftwaffe was the worst of the lot in terms of signals security. that ran across the board. Transmissions in the clear during missions, to many transmissions either by ground HQ or during missions, sloppy encryption both with Enigma machines and with tactical codes. Bletchley Park often broke into the Enigma encryption of the ground or naval forces via Luftwaffe messages. In the air campaigns over Lybia, Tunisia, Sicilly, Italy, France 1942-44, or Germany the Allied air force leaders had a fair amount of intel on the German Air Force operations from ULTRA.

Deception Ops. The deception committee responsible for coordinating all Allied deception operations had a high priority on decrypts from Bletchley Park. by analyzing messages in and out of OKW and other senior HQ they were able to build a feed back loop for the deception ops. Operation MINCEMEAT, BODYGUARD, FORTITUDE, & the dozens of others were adjusted along the way by this insight into how the senior leaders reacted to the false intel planted. The reaction of the German forces in France in October 1942 to a invasion alert is a example.

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Re: Enigma cracking exposed?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 25 May 2023 16:51

Von Bock wrote:
24 May 2023 20:13
... but the supposed battles where it 'decided' the result (El Alamein, invasion of Sicily, D-day) were battles where the Allies already had enormous numerical superiority anyway. It definitely resulted in higher losses for the Germans, but not really decisive.
& in all those cases other intel sources like signals analysis, air reconnaissance, PoW interrogation, ground reconnaissance, spies all had strong roles. Where Enigma decrypts or ULTRA failed was usually where the leaders or their intel chiefs failed to assess all sources and looked exclusively at ULTRA briefs.

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Re: Enigma cracking exposed?

Post by T. A. Gardner » 25 May 2023 18:55

With the U-boat war, Radio Direction Finding (RDF) played a far greater role than code breaking. RDF gave an immediate, real-time, location of the transmitting boat as opposed to code breaking requiring hours to days to get the message read--maybe.

The Germans thought that using very brief burst transmissions would circumvent the RDF problem, but the British and then Allies quickly developed automatic systems that could intercept and plot the direction and strength of a transmission. Again, it was the German penchant for centralized control and regular reporting like clockwork that really did them in in the Battle of the Atlantic.

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Re: Enigma cracking exposed?

Post by Max Sinister » 16 Sep 2023 22:25

Maybe they'd decide to ramp up Enigma security if the resistance inside the Abwehr was exposed.
Carl Schwamberger wrote:
23 May 2023 16:34
The Italians were better than the Germans in many features of radio and code security. ie: The Battle of Cape Matapan was aided by badly encrypted Luftwaffe radio messages transmitting the relevant parts of the Italian battle plan.
Thanks, didn't know this detail yet.

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Re: Enigma cracking exposed?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 22 Sep 2023 16:28

Max Sinister wrote:
16 Sep 2023 22:25
Maybe they'd decide to ramp up Enigma security if the resistance inside the Abwehr was exposed.
The Navy was ramping up Enigma security, a lot. Increased training for radio operators, attention to discipline in encrypting messages according to 'best practice', and of course the upgrade to the four rotor machine. The core problem reaches back to the 1930s when the Polish mathematicians attacking the Enigma system teased out the mathematical structure (the leader in that was a statistician trained for insurance actuarial analysis). They found the actual structure was not what the designers or German military thought. it was simpler than supposed and the ease of finding the message key easier by several orders of magnitude. The Poles and others including Turing built on that to devise ever faster programs for finding each message key. To get ahead of the Allies in this the Germans would need to ditch the two+ decade old technology of the Enigma machines and distribute something entirely new and far more sophisticated. They had that in hand, the Lorenz system is one example. But, by the time they thought it might be necessary it was far to late.

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
23 May 2023 16:34
The Italians were better than the Germans in many features of radio and code security. ie: The Battle of Cape Matapan was aided by badly encrypted Luftwaffe radio messages transmitting the relevant parts of the Italian battle plan.
Thanks, didn't know this detail yet.
[/quote]

The Brits had more trouble breaking the several Italian systems. Mainly they were starting from scratch, with no boost from Polish efforts. & the Italians were reasonably disciplined in use of their systems. The Japanese were a whole different story. Stripp in his review of Brit attacks on Japanese code/encryption systems identifies 23-25 distinct systems used by various communications agencies within the Japanese empire. All but a few were broken by the Allies by 1944. One exception being the Army system for messages between senior HQ.

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Re: Enigma cracking exposed?

Post by Max Sinister » 24 Sep 2023 00:14

I'm aware of the basics of Enigma and the breaking of its code, and didn't mention them because I expected that anyone would know enough about them already.

My point still stands: If in our history, ramping up Enigma wasn't enough to endanger Britain's food supply (this is what Churchill feared most after all, and Harris used as a point of divergence in "Fatherland") - then in a hypothetical alternate history, they'd have to ramp it up *even more*. The nazis didn't know (as we know) that the Allies had cracked their code, thinking Enigma was unbreakable.

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Re: Enigma cracking exposed?

Post by Princess Perfume » 24 Sep 2023 07:54

And, of course, Britain weaponised the post-war classified nature of ULTRA against its newly free colonies (See also Operation Legacy)

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