Friday, 10 May 2013

When the Russians Visited the Enigma Firm

I mentioned in my previous post that I wanted to tell you about when the Russians visited the Enigma manufacturer Chiffriermaschinengesellschaft Heimsoeth und Rinke. I thought I didn't have copies of the documents with me but I was wrong; so I can tell you the story after all.

On 17 September 1945 Major M.F. Heller G.S.I. (General Staff Intelligence) of the 21 Army Group BAOR (British Army of the Rhine) had five TICOM targets on his Berlin list. They were Heimsoeth und Rinke, Siemens Werner Werke, AEG, Lorenz and Telefunken. When he arrived he found that he was too late; the Russians had already visited all the targets. He explains:
All targets had been previously visited by Russian Intelligence and technical experts who had removed virtually all documents and subsequently removed all machinery, plant and equipment. Despite this fact it was possible to collect a certain amount of information and equipment.
What interest us is the visit to Heimsoeth und Rinke (H&R). Here Major Heller had at his disposal an intelligence document, PROC 5802, which gave the  address of H&R as Steglitzerstrasse 2, Berlin-Tiergarten. This was the old address that H&R, and previously Chiffriermachinen Aktiengesellschaft (ChiMaAG), had used since 1923. In March 1936 the street changed name and the address became Ludendorffstrasse 6; this was changed yet again to Pohlstrasse in 1947. It is not known why, but in December 1938 H&R moved to Uhlandstrasse 136 in Berlin-Wilmersdorf. When finally Major Heller managed to find the correct address he discovered that the Russians had paid a visit already.

H&R and ChiMaAG were only engineering firms that did the design and development of the various Enigma machines. Originally they had a small mechanical workshop for prototype developments. That was when ChiMaAG was known as Gewerkschaft Securitas and they were at the address Bahnstrasse 21, Berlin-Schöneberg, but subsequently they did all their production and prototype works at firms specialised in such work. Since 1929 their main fabrication firm was Konski & Krüger (K&K) at Chausseestrasse 117, Berlin-Charlottenburg. Major Heller says H&R were the sole manufacturer of Enigma machines for all of Germany. This is entirely correct; all the other firms that are known to have made Enigma machines, such as Ertel-Werk für Feinmechanik or Olympia Büromaschinenwerke AG, were doing so under license from H&R.

Major Heller mentions three people that were working at the offices of H&R in Uhlandstrasse 136, Ob. Ing. Korn, Ing. Schröder and Ing. Schiele. Oberingenieur or Senior Engineer Korn is of course Willi Korn that I spoke about last time. The two other engineers are Willi Schröder and Reinhold Schiele who both were employed as designers in Spring 1933 when H&R had to expand to fulfil the new orders arriving from the German military and other authorities. I have not done any research on these to gentlemen, but I suspect they were both mechanical engineers. They were employed as Teilkonstrukteure — part designers.

Even if the Russians had already been there it was still many items left for Major Heller's team to remove. They mention the Zählwerksmaschine type CA15 (sic, it should be Ch 15) — this is Enigma G. The team seems not to know that this machine was used by the Abwehr. They only mentions that the machine was sold to the Dutch for military use and that subsequent to declaration of war two machines were delivered to OKW at Stahnsdorfunless they knew that Stahnsdorf was the Abwehr station (Abwehrstelle) in Berlin.

Next they collected and removed the design documents and a prototype for a new  Enigma wheel, Lückenfüllerwalze, the programmable notch rotor. Major Heller's report errs when he claims that the Lückenfüllerwalze had not yet reached production stage. On 24 July 1944 Ertel-Werk für Feinmechanik received an order for the production of 8000 of these wheels; this number was subsequently increased to 12000. However, due to the increasingly difficult situation with respect to materials etc. Ertel-Werk only made a small number of these wheels and none had been accepted and delivered at the cessation of hostilities. What the situation was at K&K and Olympia is not yet known.

They also removed an Umkehrwalze D (UKW D), the pluggable reflector. Major Heller tries to explain the curious history of the Umkehrwalzen. He writes: 
The history of the Umkehrwalzen is a little odd. Type [C] was  requested by OKW and duly delivered but for unknown reasons, was withdrawn from service almost immediately. Orders were then given to design a new type having improved security characteristics. Type D was the result. This was approved and put into production, but never reached full distribution. It was withdrawn, no reasons being given, and the production of type B was recommenced. 
The the introduction of UKW D into active service was badly handled by the Germans. It is true  the operators complained about how difficult the UKWD was to use but it was never withdrawn from service. It continued to be used until then end of the war. Furthermore, the production of UKW B was never stopped but it continued in parallel with the production of UKW D. The reason was of course that UKW B was the standard Enigma reflector and every machine produced would have one. This is yet an example of what I talked about last time that the TICOM reports have to be used with care. Concerning UKW C I hope to perhaps find an answer to this puzzle some time in the near future.

Major Heller's team also visited the Enigma factory K&K at Chausseestrasse 117. The team located or found other items at this factory which was in the Russian sector of Berlin, but it is not clear if they removed any of these items. What they discovered was a strip printer adapter for the Service Enigma, more correctly called the Heeres Enigma, and a Naval page printer model. The strip printer is described as follows: 
This adapter fitted over the lamp sockets and consisted of a straightforward teleprinter which was actuated via relays by the current that would normally light the bulbs. 
This sounds like the strip printer adapter MZSE, also known as Schreibmax, that was designed for the Naval Enigma models M3 and M4. The Naval page printer has this description:
Based on the Springschreiber [start-stop teleprinter], this model consisted of a straightforward naval type Enigma, which was operated electro-magnetically, the enciphered or clear text being printed directly on to a paper page. Only a limited number of these machines were delivered to the Navy.
Both of these descriptions only partially fit with our present knowledge of Enigma machines with printing attachments. I will try to come back to this problem in a future article because the existing evidence is very confusing.

Furthermore the team discovered a number of 4-wheel commercial Enigma machines at the factory of K&K. They don't say which models they are but they must have been Enigma K or Enigma G or both. Major Heller does not say much about the Russians that visited H&R and K&K but what he does say is nevertheless interesting: 
Russian Investigation. Both factory and offices were visited by Capt. Polin and Lt. Medwedjew. Both officers appeared to be fully conversant with the Army model and demonstrated obvious familiarity with the mechanics of the Army model. Ing. Schröder gained the impression that both were cryptographers. These officers removed a complete set of drawings for the Lückenfüllerwalze and a Naval type Enigma machine, which they stated they had never before encountered. They did not enquire regarding the Umkehrwalzen nor did they obtain a complete model of the Lückenfüllerwalze.
This is a solid proof that the Russians knew the 3-wheel Heeres Enigma, which they most likely had captured one or more examples of on the Eastern Front. It is also likely that they captured German Army Enigma key sheets and that they therefore were able to exploit the Enigma traffic from time to time. If they managed to break the Enigma on a larger scale such as was done at Bletchley Park is still not known. That they did not know about the Naval Enigma is less astonishing. The Soviet Union was not a seagoing naval power in those day and in the Baltic and coastal waters the German used the Home Waters Enigma keys based on the Naval 3-wheel model. However, it is very unlikely any of these fell in Russian hands.

Major Heller rounds off his report with the following words:
The offices contain large number of files relating to commercial sale of Enigma machines and current production correspondence. Schiele stated that all SECRET files had been burned before the Russians entered the town. The files were not examined in detail.
Exactly two months later, on 17 November 1945, Major Heller was back at the offices of Heimsoeth und Rinke in Uhlandstrasse 136. The target this time was the documents they had left behind last time, but that is a story I will leave for later.

Sources. The main source for this article is the TICOM report I-104 that I obtained in part through a FOIA request to NSA in 2004. The report appeared as an appendix in the NSA document I requested but only the part covering the visit to H&R and K&K was used in this appendix. The rest of the report has to my knowledge not yet been made publicly available, though it might now be at NARA. You can download the partial copy of TICOM/I-104 here.

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