intelligence and codebreaking played an important role in WWII. British and
American codebreakers solved many important Axis crypto systems, such as the
German Enigma machine and the Japanese Navy’s code JN25. These operations
remained hidden from the public till the 1970’s, when several books finally
acknowledged the Allied codebreaking successes.
countless books have been written about the Allied codebreakers, their
successes and their contribution to the overall war effort.
about the similar successes of the Axis codebreakers is much harder to find
since the relevant material only started to be declassified in the 2000’s.
that has been declassified reveals that at the end of the war in Europe the US
and UK authorities were interested in finding out as much as possible about the
operations and successes of the German codebreaking organizations. For this
reason the TICOM (Target
Intelligence Committee) project was created. The goal was to send small teams
into Germany in order to capture the German codebreakers and their archives.
The book starts
in 1944, when the Anglo-Americans expecting the war to end soon had started
planning for the capture of enemy sigint personnel and archives. The joint US-UK effort was codenamed TICOM
and six teams were formed to go into Germany and search for the German signal
intelligence personnel and archives.
operations of the individual TICOM teams are covered in the following chapters.
Travelling through a war ravaged Germany they had to improvise and take risks
in order to locate their targets. The teams managed to retrieve important enemy
personnel and files, including the entire codebreaking unit of the German
Foreign Ministry. Other great successes were the capture of a ‘Kurier’ burst-radio communications device
in Northern Germany, multichannel radio-teletype demodulators found buried in a
camp in Rosenheim and the retrieval of the OKW/Chi archive, found in metal
boxes at the bottom of lake Schliersee in Bavaria.
not only describes the operations of the TICOM teams but also explains the organization,
personalities and achievements of the German codebreakers.
contains maps and several rare photographs of personnel and material from that
era. There is also an appendix with an overview of the different codes and
ciphers used in WWII.
with Randy Rezabek
was kind enough to answer some of my questions.
1). How did you become interested in
WWII cryptologic history and why did you decide to write a book about the TICOM
ago (35+) I was saving in the Navy and was stationed at a Naval Security Group
intercept site running the local photo lab. I had a clearance and learned a bit
through osmosis, but it wasn’t until I read Bamford’s book The Puzzle
Palace that things became clear about what we were up to. I maintained
an interest in things Sigint even though life moved on in different directions.
About 2010 I
was diagnosed with MS and that created physical limitations on many of my
activities, so I focused on TICOM as a pastime that could focus on.
learned about TICOM through another Bamford book Body of Secrets,
also the account in The Ultra Americans by Parrish. I found
the whole topic fascinating but little researched in the literature. Since then
I have acquired a personal library of 150 or so volumes on Signit, intelligence
and military communications.
else had written a book on TICOM I thought that was a worthwhile goal.
2). How hard was it to find
information about the TICOM teams and the information they gathered?
time I got serious about this I started doing follow ups with NSA and NARA. It
was around this time that TICOM documentation started being released. It was a
very slow process, especially with the NSA FOIA requests, they often took
years, and by the time they replied the requested documentation had been
released to NARA anyway. The release of “European Axis Signal Intelligence…”
was a great boon to researchers. In addition to the overview, I compiled a list
of 150 or so TICOM reports that were cited in the footnotes, this gave me a
guide on what to look for. I also hooked up with some other researchers in the
field, such as Ralph Erskine, Frode Weierud and you. I made the acquaintance
with David Kahn, who was a great inspiration, and met and corresponded with
Stephen Budiansky, all have helped me find sources and sharpened my knowledge.
was a matter of patience watching the slow drip, drip of releases over the
years. NARA was a great help, when I started out there was no use of the Term
TICOM in the descriptors. But by 2012 they had reorganize lot of the catalog
and put the newer TICOM stuff into their own entries.
3). You said in the book that the
reasons why TICOM remained classified into the 21st century is perhaps its
greatest secret. Do you think it was simple bureaucratic inertia or something
At this point
I think it was inertia. After the end of the cold war there was no real need to
keep it secret from a security viewpoint. Human sources were long retired or
dead, technologies and techniques were long superseded, and the use of captured
German intelligence information against the Soviets would be obvious to even
the most clueless observer.. But the law says a secret is a secret until
properly declassified, even if everyone knows about it. And declassification is
a laborious process with little priority: as I say in the book “nobody in the
NSA ever got fired for not revealing a secret.”
4). Are you going to write more books
on the subject?
At this point
I think I have pretty well exhausted the topic. I tried to include as many
details as possible in it to provide a guide to future researchers. If
something comes out in future released that alter the story then I may do a
follow up article or two. However, publishers don’t see enough profit in the
story to bother, that why I had to publish it myself.
1940 Italian forces invaded Greece, in the area of Epirus, and
war started. The Greek forces were able to contain the assault and the
Greek counterattack forced the Italians back into Albanian territory. After the
defeat of a major Italian offensive
in spring 1941 the front stabilized inside Albania.
Greece in April 1941 and made rapid progress due to the fact that
almost the entire Greek Army was fighting in the Epirus area. The remaining
units and the small British forces transferred to Greece in March-April 1941
were unable to stop them. Then in May 1941 the Germans were also able to defeat
the Greek and British forces that had retreated to the strategic island of Crete.
War by Numbers assesses the nature of
conventional warfare through the analysis of historical combat. Christopher A.
Lawrence (President and Executive Director of The Dupuy Institute) establishes
what we know about conventional combat and why we know it. By demonstrating the
impact a variety of factors have on combat he moves such analysis beyond the
work of Carl von Clausewitz and into modern data and interpretation.
Using vast data sets, Lawrence
examines force ratios, the human factor in case studies from World War II and
beyond, the combat value of superior situational awareness, and the effects of
dispersion, among other elements. Lawrence challenges existing interpretations
of conventional warfare and shows how such combat should be conducted in the
future, simultaneously broadening our understanding of what it means to fight
wars by the numbers.
Table of contents
Understanding War 1
Attacker versus Defender
Measuring Human Factors in Combat:
Italy 1943-1944 19
Measuring Human Factors in Combat:
Ardennes and Kursk 32
Measuring Human Factors in Combat:
Modern Wars 49
Outcome of Battles 60
The Combat Value of Superior
Situational Awareness 79
The Combat Value of Surprise 121
The Nature of Lower Levels of
The Effects of Dispersion on
Advance Rates 174
Urban Legends 206
The Use of Case Studies 265
Validation of the TNDM
Appendix I: Dupuy’s Timeless Verities
of Combat 329
Maitland, FL (May 19, 2017) –Working
on the Dark Side of the Moon provides the first, ground-level look inside the
super-secret National Security Agency (NSA) and a shadowy think tank affiliated
with it. The author, a software entrepreneur and statistics professor,
volunteered for a year-long sabbatical tour of duty in the NSA. He ended up
spending several years moving between the business and academic worlds and the
secret world. This book records his impressions of people and places never
before described in such intimate detail.
A deeply personal account of the years
spent within the most secretive organization in the world, Working on the Dark
Side of the Moon explores the range of emotions an outsider experiences while
crossing over to the “inside.” It also shows the positive side of an Agency
whose secrecy hides dedicated men and women devoted to protecting the country
while honoring the Constitution.
Willemain writes, "The very
secrecy that enables NSA to be effective also cripples its ability to explain
its positive contributions. Into this void are projected grossly distorted
views of what NSA does and what NSA people are like. This book puts a human
face on the people who work in this secret world: their character, motivations,
frustrations, sense of humor. Readers can develop a more balanced and nuanced
view of NSA and its people."
About the Author
Dr. Thomas Reed Willemain served as an
Expert Statistical Consultant to the National Security Agency (NSA) at Ft.
Meade, MD and as a member of the Adjunct Research Staff at an affiliated
think-tank, the Institute for Defense Analyses Center for Computing Sciences
(IDA/CCS). He is Professor Emeritus of Industrial and Systems Engineering at
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, having previously held faculty positions at
Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and Massachusetts Institute of
Technology. He is also co-founder and Senior Vice President/Research at Smart
Software, Inc. He is a member of the Association of Former Intelligence
Officers, the Military Operations Research Society, the American Statistical
Association, and several other professional organizations. Willemain received
the BSE degree (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) from Princeton University and
the MS and PhD degrees from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
His other books include: Statistical
Methods for Planners, Emergency Medical Systems Analysis (with R. C. Larson),
and 80 articles in peer-reviewed journals on topics in statistics, operations
research, health care and other topics.
Q&A with Thomas Reed Willemain
was kind enough to answer some of my questions.
1). Can you give an overview of your
career prior to working for the NSA?
overlapping careers: About 40 years as
an academic, and about 30 years as a software entrepreneur. I have been a
professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard Kennedy School of
Government, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. I am now Professor Emeritus
of Industrial and Systems Engineering at RPI. I am also co-founder and Senior
Vice President/Research at Smart Software, Inc. in Boston. A common thread has
been the study of statistics, forecasting -- anything involving randomness.
2). How/why did you consider working
for the NSA?
I was looking
for a challenging and useful sabbatical leave. I’d previously spent a
sabbatical leave at the Federal Aviation Administration and made some contributions
there, even though I’d not had any formal background in aviation. I was wary of
applying to NSA, since I was not in synch with the Bush administration. But I
wanted another period of public service. I also knew that there would be no
more intriguing place for a statistician to work. And I suspected, correctly,
that when I came back to RPI I would have more to contribute to my students.
That turned out to be correct, in that my courses were richer (and more
3). What did you expect working at the
NSA would be like and were your expectations accurate or not?
I was very
wrong about some things. One was politics, or the lack thereof. I mentioned my
misgivings about President Bush. The woman who handled the sabbatical program
was very diplomatic and not put off by my questions. When I finally met her in
person, it turned out that she was a lesbian with an “Anybody but Bush” bumper
sticker on her car – not at all fitting my stereotype of an NSA person. During
the McCain-Obama election campaign, the bumper stickers in the vast parking
lots were about 50:50, and there was no whiff of politics inside the wire. The
only person who talked (incessantly) about the election was somebody from
another country embedded with us. I did expect a high level of expertise, and
that was definitely true.
should have expected but did not was how radically different the culture was
from my university life. I was going back and forth between “inside” and
“outside”. The academic culture encourages the question “Hey, what are you
working on?” I had to learn to not ask that question on the inside unless it
was behind a locked door, and not always then.
Now, the NSA
is a big place. And one of the people described in my book pointed out that I
was in the Research Directorate, which is more like a playground for uber-geeks
than most of the rest of the Agency, where a mix of civilians and service
members grind out massive amounts of work every day. So my book must present a
partial picture of “Life inside the National Security Agency”. I may have been
the proverbial blind man feeling the best part of the proverbial elephant.
4). Why did you decide to write a book
about your experiences working for the NSA and was it difficult to gain
approval from the agency?
I’ll be 70
years old soon, and I found myself slowing down on the math side of things, so
I looked for another way to contribute. I had a plan to begin substituting my
words for my equations, and writing the book would be a good way to test the
feasibility of that plan. But I was also motivated by a desire to continue
serving as best I could. Most every depiction of NSA in the media has been
negative, and distorted stereotypes about the people and the Agency are
rampant. I wanted to offset that with an insider’s look at the reality. The
Snowden affair in particular prompted me to try to offset that. It turned out
that, without knowing what I was contributing to, some of my technical work
helped the Agency offset some of the damage Snowden did. The book let me do
more on that front.
book cleared through NSA’s pre-publication review was a slow-motion
crucifixion. It delayed the book by five months and blacked out about 15% of
the book. There was some lying and bullying involved. Call it a
character-building moment. I wrote about the process in the LawFare blog and
discussed it with the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, who
were already reviewing the pre-pub process. The basic problem is that the
process knows only one word: “No”. I tried to get the strategic communications
people involved so there would be someone to say “Yes” to the idea of
permitting a pro-Agency book to be published, but so far no luck. The Agency
claimed, with perhaps dubious legality, that anybody described in my book,
though anonymously, could require me to remove them from the book. If they had
all done so, there would have been no book. But only one insisted that she be
removed. She is now a large black rectangle.
5). What new information is available
from your book compared to previous studies of the NSA?
certain that this is the only grunt-level memoir of service in the NSA. There
are a few faux-memoirs that are works of fiction. Folks at the top levels have
written books (e.g., Michael Hayden), but daily life below the top has been,
well, rather like the dark side of the moon. There have been policy-oriented
and history-oriented books about NSA, but not people-oriented books. So what it
feels like to work there has been mysterious. Much of my book is centered on
descriptions of about 40 people that I worked with, and the book is about their
stories as much as mine. I also paid a lot of attention to comparing life
inside against life outside, especially regarding the intellectual and administrative
climates (including personnel evaluation systems). There are not many
“insider/outsider” stories to tell, and mine is the only one in print.
part way through my time inside, several of us academics were “traded” to
NSA-affiliated think tanks. So my book is also the first to expose the inner
workings of the Institute for Defense Analyses Center for Computing Sciences.
That must be the world’s most comfortable SCIF, and it’s full of sharp,
colorful characters. I think the director of IDA/CCS was even more opposed to
publication of my book than the NSA itself, even though my book might be very
helpful to recruiting people to take my place there.
6). What is your opinion on the recent
Snowden revelations regarding the NSA interception of US civilian
I have mixed
feeling about Snowden, mostly negative. Perhaps some of his motivation was
idealistic. But what he did was very damaging to the tracking of foreign
targets, so he definitely belongs in jail. He also appears to be a narcissistic
liar. He permitted a persona to be presented in the movie “Snowden” that was
just not true. As I watched the movie, I kept thinking “That’s not true. And
that’s not true. And that doesn’t really happen.” For instance, I write about
my struggles to pass the repeated exams I had to take to certify that I knew
about the practical implementation of the Fourth Amendment prohibitions as
applied to foreign intelligence. The public should know how seriously the
Agency regards those things. It is certain that something as powerful as the
NSA bears constant watching, but facts ought to be the basis for judgment.
uploaded the file containing the Japanese decodes of US diplomatic traffic from
Diplomatic records Office, Tokyo,
‘U.S.-Japan Relations, Miscellaneous Diplomatic Correspondence-Special
Information File’ (A-1-3-1, 1-3-2). Link here.
covered Western Europe and the cryptanalysts of NAASt 5 were able to solve the
US M-209 cipher machine in 1944.
the TICOM report IF-272 - TAB ‘D’ the following NAAS 5 reports survived the
1/44 der NAAst 5 dated 10.1.44
2/44 der NAAst 5
3/44 der NAAst 5 (Berichtszeit 1.4-30.6.44)
der NAAst 5 (Berichtszeit 1.7-30.9.44) dated 10.10.44
NAAst 5 (Berichtszeit 1.10.44-30.12.44) dated 14.1.45
three can be found in the US national archives, collection RG 457 - Entry 9032
- box 22, titled ‘German deciphering reports’.
the last two (covering the second half of 1944) are not there.
NSA FOIA office told me that the NAASt 5 reports had been transferred to the US
National archives as part of transfer group TR-0457-2016-0014. However when the
NARA FOIA office checked these files they were unable to locate any report
titled E-Bericht NAAs 5.
I then asked
the NSA FOIA office again about these files, since it seems they made a mistake
and I was told to check transfer group TR-0457-2017-0010.
response from the NARA research office regarding this transfer group has been the
‘We have received the records of which
you speak and they must first of all undergo formal accessioning and any
necessary preservation. Then they will
need to be archivally described and professionally arranged before they will be
available for research. ALL of those
steps will depend on how many previous accessions are in line to be processed.
Although you have the most up-to-date
information on these record transfers, our archival processing steps must be
done prior to making the records available for public use.’
So it seems
that I’ll have to wait for NARA to process the transfer group TR-0457-2017-0010
and then they can search it for the NAASt 5 reports (assuming they are there).
and signals intelligence played a major role in the German war effort. Army and
Luftwaffe units relied on signals intelligence in order to monitor enemy units
and anticipate major actions.
the German Army made extensive use of signals intelligence and codebreaking in
its operations against enemy forces. German commanders relied on signals
intelligence in order to ascertain the enemy’s order of battle and track the
movements of units.
Army’s signal intelligence agency operated a number of fixed intercept stations
and also had mobile units assigned to Army Groups. These units were called KONA
(Kommandeur der Nachrichtenaufklärung - Signals Intelligence Regiment) and each
had an evaluation centre, a stationary intercept company, two long range signal
intelligence companies and two close range signal intelligence companies.
units did not have the ability to solve complicated Allied cryptosystems.
Instead they focused on exploiting low/mid level ciphers and even in this
capacity they were assisted by material sent to them by the central
cryptanalytic department in Berlin. This was the German Army High
Command’s Inspectorate 7/VI.
Diary of Inspectorate 7/VI
Some files of
the German army signal intelligence service survived WWII and were retrieved in
1947 from a camp in Glasenbach, Austria, where they had been buried at the end
of the war.
of departments 1, 7, 13 and F occasionally have information on the Enigma
cipher machine (both commercial and plugboard versions).
1 was responsible for general cryptanalytic research but in 1941 department 7 was
created to look into the security of German cipher systems. For a time both 1
and 7 did general crypto research. In November 1942 department 13 was created and
from then on department 7 dealt solely with German hand systems, while department
13 was responsible for German cipher machines. In 1943 department F (Forschung/Research)
was created to do general cryptanalytic research.
the relevant passages from the War Diary and used google translate. However
many terms were not translated correctly so it was up to Frode Weierud, an expert on
Enigma history, to correct these passages.
present the War Diary entries dealing with the Enigma machine for the years
1941-45 (I’m afraid I don’t have the files of 1939-40):
construction and use of tactical cryptosystems there are two conflicting
requirements. One is security and the other is ease of use. If a system is
highly secure but hard and time consuming to use then important messages might
be secure from cryptanalysis but they could arrive too late, with disastrous
consequences. On the other hand if a system is extremely easy to use but
insecure then the messages will get through on time but the enemy will also be
able to read them.
code, used by the US and British armies in WWII was easy to use but it
could be solved in a few hours by the German codebreakers.
However the British
transposition cipher and the US Army’s M-209 cipher
machine were basically secure systems, since they could only be solved
through mistakes in encipherment. It seems that contrary to regulations the
Allied troops did not always use these systems in the field since it took too
long to encipher their messages.
the War Office to the Commanders in Chief 21st Army Group, Home Forces, Middle
East, Persia-Iraq (dated February 1945):
I am commanded by the Army Council to
inform you that further consideration has been given to the suitability for
operational purposes of the Low-Grade cipher "Double Transposition"
which was introduced for use throughout the Army by War Office letter
32/Tels/943 dated 5th November, 1943.
2. Experience shows that while this
cipher affords adequate security, unit personnel find it difficult and slow to
operate. There is, therefore, a tendency to avoid the use of cipher with a
consequent possibility of overstrain of other safe means of communication or
the use of wireless in clear to a dangerous extent.
3. It has, therefore, been decided to
adopt a new Low Grade cipher, called LINEX, details of which are given in
appendices A to D, in place of Double Transposition.’
interview with S/Sgt, Communications Section 79 Inf Div, 7th Army. (dated March
"The US Army code machine #209 was found to
be something that hampered operations. It would take at least half hour to get
a message through from the message center by use of this code machine and as a
result the codes of particular importance or speed, for instance mortar messages,
were sent in the clear."
Sources: British national archives WO 193/211
‘Wireless, cable and signal (including cipher) communications: policy and
codes: action from report of Godwin-Austen Committee’, US national archives -
collection RG457 - Entry 9032 - box 1.024 - US COMSEC reports.
1940 Italian forces invaded Greece, in the area of Epirus, and
the Greek-Italian war
started. The Greek forces were able to contain the assault and the Greek
counterattack forced the Italians back into Albanian territory. After the
defeat of a major Italian offensive
in spring 1941 the front stabilized inside Albania.
invaded Greece in
April 1941 and made rapid progress due to the fact that almost the entire
Greek Army was fighting in the Epirus area. The remaining units and the small
British forces transferred to Greece in March-April 1941 were unable to stop
them. Then in May 1941 the Germans were also able to defeat the Greek and
British forces that had retreated to the strategic island of Crete.
In the period
1941-44 Greece was split into three occupation zones, controlled by Italy,
Germany and Bulgaria. This measure
fractured the Greek economy and together with hyperinflation and loss of value
of the paper currency led to the collapse of the
Greece was a
poor agricultural country prior to WWII. The war of 1940-41, the splitting of
the country into three occupation zones and the confiscation of goods by the
occupying powers led to the impoverishment of an already poor population.
operated in urban centers but the bigger ones could only survive in the
countryside where the presence of Axis troops was limited.
The main ones
were the military wing of the Greek Communist Party - ELAS (Greek
People's Liberation Army) and the liberal EDES
(National Republican Greek League).
resistance forces organized by the Communist Party were ostensibly created in
order to oppose the Axis rule and liberate Greece but in reality their main
goal was to eliminate their liberal rivals, unify all resistance groups under
communist control and gain power in postwar Greece (1).
period 1943-44 the Communist forces showed more interest in attacking and
destroying other resistance groups than in attacking the occupiers. One of
their most infamous acts was the destruction of the EKKA (National
and Social Liberation) resistance group and the execution of its commander Dimitrios
ELAS movement grew in power during the occupation for several reasons. Compared
to the other resistance groups it had an advantage in that it was tightly
controlled by the Communist Party, an organization that knew how to operate in adverse
conditions. The main achievement of the communists was that they managed to get
British backing for their operations. British liaison officers were transported
to Greece and British money and arms supported the ΕΑΜ ELAS movement.
In addition to
British support, with the collapse of Italy in September 1943, several Italian
military units in the Balkans surrendered to the partisans and the capture of
their heavy weapons (mortars, artillery, machine guns) gave ΕΑΜ ELAS the
ability to conduct regular military operations.
communications and ciphers of the ELAS movement
German sources ELAS radio communications began to be intercepted by the units
of KONA 4 (Kommandeur der Nachrichtenaufklärung - Signals Intelligence Regiment)
in early 1944.
reports of the unit for 1944 (2) show that Greek communist radio traffic was
worked on by NAZ G (Nachrichten Nahaufklärungszug - Close Range Signal
The report Ez
Bericht 1944/II says that in April 1944 radio traffic of the Greek communist
groups from the areas Volos, Lamia and Olympus was intercepted.
The messages were sent in 4-figure and 5-letter groups. The first procedure was
a letter to figure Caesar cipher and it was discontinued by the end of April.
The second procedure was double transposition with the same key used for both
cages. Both were solved and 240 messages read.
Mitte April wurde erstmalig ein
griechischer kommunistischer Bandenfunkverkehr mit Funkstellen im Raum Volos -
Lamia und im Olymp-Gebiet festgestellt. Seither sind hauptsächlich zwei Arten
von Chisprüchen der Elas (Griechisches Volksbefreiungsheer)- Verkehre
angefallen: 4Z- und 5B-Sprüche.
Statistische Untersuchungen des
Spruchmaterials ergaben eindeutige Hinweise auf ein mehrfach belegtes
2Z-Cäsar-Verfahren, das in seinen verschiedenen Schlüsselformen durch
4Z-Kenngruppen bezeichnet wird. Es wurden schliesslich fünf derartige
2Z-Buchstaben-Silben-Cäsaren gelöst. Bereits Ende April wurde dieses Verfahren
ausser Kraft gesetzt.
Die in grösserem Umfange zwischen dem
Obkdo. der Elas und der Gruppe der Divisionen Makedoniens mit ihren
unterstellten Einheiten abgesetzten 5B-Sprüche wurden als
Klartext-Verwürfelungen erkannt. Untersuchungen auf einfache Verwürfelungen
waren erfolglos. Erst als zwei nahezu textgleiche Sprüche mit gleicher
4Z-Kenngruppe auftraten, von denen der eine die mit einer Spalten-vertauschung
versehene Wiederholung des anderen war, konnte die Losung erstellt und der
Spruch als Doppelwürfelverschlüsselung gelöst werden. Die folgende
Entschlüsselung aller mit dieser Losung verzifferten Sprüche ergab, dass der
Verschlüssler beim Obkdo der Elas besonders für volle Würfel eine Vorliebe hat.
Diese Annahme bestätigte sich, als festgestellt wurde, dass darüber hinaus sogar
qruadratische Würfel vorlagen, für die eine einfache Lösungsmöglichkeit
besteht. In arderen Fällen lagen der Verschlüsselung halbquadratische Würfel
zugrunde. Solche können gleichfalls gelöst werden, da in zwei Halbzeilen des
waagerecht eingetragenen Chitextes oft eine bekannte Unterschrift gefunden
werden kann. Unter Ausnutzung dieser Verschlüsselungsschwächen des Gegners
wurden bisher 20 Doppelwürfelosungen erstellt.
In der Berichtszeit wurden insgesamt
ca 240 Sprüche mitgelesen die wertvolle Aufschlüsse über den organisatorischen
Aufbau, die militärische Gliederung und die militärischen Aktionen der
kommunistischqp Banden im griechischen Raume gaben.
Mid-April radio communications of
a Greek Communist gang , with radio stations in the area of Volos - Lamia and
Olympus, was detected for the first time. Since
then, mainly two kinds of cipher messages in
the ELAS traffic (Greek people's Liberation Army) have
turned: 4-figure and 5-letter messages.
a) 4-figure messages.
Statistical investigations of the
intercepted material gave clear indications of a multiply occupied 2-figure
Caesar system, which in its various cipher forms is identified by 4-figure
indicator. Finally five such 2-figure letter-syllable Caesars were solved.
Already at the end of April this procedure was cancelled.
b) 5-letter messages.
The 5-letter messages, which in larger
extent were sent between the ELAS headquarter and the group of divisions in
Macedonia with its subordinate units, were recognized as plaintext transpositions.
Studies based on simple transpositions were unsuccessful. It was not until two
nearly textually equal messages with the same 4-figure indicator group
occurred, of which one could be seen as a column swapped repetition of the
other, that an answer was found and the message solved as a double
transposition. The following decryption of all the enciphered messages with
this solution revealed that the cipher clerk at ELAS headquarter had a special
preference for complete transposition rectangles. This assumption was confirmed
when it was found that it even square transposition templates was used, for
which there exist a simple solution. In other cases, the enciphering was based
on using half-square transposition templates. Those can equally be solved because
in two half-lines of the vertically entered ciphertext one often will find a
well-known signature. So far 20 double transposition solutions have been
created using these encryption weaknesses of the enemy.
During the period under review a total
of about 240 messages were read which gave valuable insights into the
organizational structure, the military plans and the military action of the
Communist rings in the Greek area.
The report Ez
Bericht 1944/III says that double transposition continued to be used in ELAS
radio communications. Due to poor cipher practices this system could be solved.
In the reporting period about 120 keys were solved and 2.200 messages read.
Sämtliche Funkverkehre der
Elas-Bewegung im griechischen Raume verwenden nach wie vor die
Dopelwürfelverschlüsselung. Aus der bereits im letzten Bericht erwähnten
Vorliebe der gegnerischen Schlüssler für volle Würfel hat sich ein gangbarer
Weg zur Lösung dieser Doppelwürfel finden lassen. Unter Verwendung bereite
bekannter Unterschriften wurden die Würfellosungen gefunden an quadratischen,
doppelquadratischen, halb- und viertel-quadratischen Würfeln, ferner an längen-
und lösungsgleichen Würfeln und Würfeln mit Spaltenvertauschung,Dass
in einer Anzahl von bereits entzifferten Sprüchen auch Hinweise auf neue
Losungen gegeben wurden, erleichterte die Entzifferungsarbeit beträchtlich.
Mit ca. 120 Losungen konnten in der
Berichtszeit nahezu 2.200 Sprüche mitgelesen werden,
All radio traffic of the ELAs movement
in the Greek area still uses the double transposition system. From the
preference of the enemy cipher clerks for complete transposition squares, as
mentioned in the last report, a practical method of solving this double
transposition has been found. By using well-known signatures solutions were
found for square, double square, half - and quarter square transposition
templates, as well as solutions to same length and solution-equal transposition
templates and templates with column swapping.
The decipherment work was eased
considerably by the fact that a number of already decrypted messages also gave
hints about new solutions. With about 120 solutions nearly 2,200 messages could
be read during the reporting period.
report Ez Bericht 1944/IV says that approximately 50% of the messages were read:
Der griechische Bandenfunk wurde
ausschliesslich von NNA Zg G bearbeitet, der sich in der Berichtszeit 2 Monate
auf dem Rückzug befand. Im letzten Vierteljahr 1944 wurde als einziges Verfahren
der Doppelwürfel verwendet . Ungefähr 50% der angefallenen Sprüche wurden
mitgelesen. Für ca. 30 Kenngruppen wurden die Losungen erstellt.
The Greek agent radio traffic was
processed exclusively by NNA Zg G who, during the reporting period, had already
been on the retreat for 2 months. In the last quarter of 1944 the only method
used was double transposition. Approximately 50% of the attacked messages were
read. Solutions were found for about 30 characteristic groups (indicators).
was written by Dr. Otto Karl Winkler, a member of KONA 4. Dr Winkler was in
charge of decoding and translating the Greek messages and in pages 4-6 he
stated about his work:
moved to BELGRADE in Autumn 1943, thence, in August 1944 to PERNITZ near WIENER
NEUSTADT, However, I received a new task in Spring 1944 with the appearance of
Greek messages sent by ELAS. In the course of our two year stay in Athens I had
been able to learn modern Greek almost perfectly, on the basis of a knowledge
of classical Greek and spurred on by love for and interest in Greece. In
addition my duties had provided me with a certain experience of cryptography
and a good translation technique. Thus I was put in charge of Greek
cryptography and was assisted in the actual cryptographic work by Uffz. Diether
STROBL from BERLIN, an English interpreter and technical student. I had held
the rank of Wachtmeister since Christmas 1943.
cipher systems used he also mentions the 2-figure Caesar system and the double
transposition cipher. Solution of the latter depended on the poor practices of
the ELAS cipher clerks:
transpositions are regarded as a secure type of cipher and are therefore used
by many British agents. To the best of my knowledge the unit never succeeded in
breaking one and only occasional captured material has rendered it possible to
read some traffic retrospectively. For the sake of security it is essential to
avoid using complete or even square boxes, typical beginnings or endings of
messages and constantly recurring addresses and signatures, to use each key as
little as possible and as far as possible to have different keys for each box
of the pairs The Greeks overlooked all these rules right up to the end, with
the result that messages in the same setting and with the same number of groups
(Elementeanzahl) cropped up.
The solution of these messages provided valuable information about the
organization, personalities and operations of the ELAS partisan forces:
case we succeeded in breaking 50 – 60% of the traffic tackled and as important
messages were always retransmitted on several links with different keys, we
were able to build up an almost complete picture of the build-up, organization
and composition of EAM and ELAS, to compile lists of their leading
personalities and officers and to inform the competent German political and
military authorities in good time about many planned military and political
actions, acts of sabotage, ambushes, dynamitings, etc. I can only remember a
few details and cannot reproduce examples systematically as the evaluation of
the material wan not my job, which consisted only of deciphering, decoding and
translating the available material.
traffic of British liaison officers in Greece
ELAS communications the Germans were also able to read some of the messages
sent by British liaison officers assigned to the Greek partisans. The German
Army’s codebreaking agency OKH/Inspectorate 7/VI was able to decode some of
these messages in the period 1943-44 (3).
authorities kept in contact with partisan groups in the Balkans through liaison
officers sent by the intelligence services SIS and SOE. These small teams
transmitted traffic by radio to their controlling stations in Cairo, Egypt and
Bari, Italy. The cryptosystems used were double transposition and the War
Office Cypher, enciphered with one time pads.
Some of the
encoded radio traffic of British officers in the Balkans was exploited by the
Germans. They were able to read messages both through captured material and by
The reports of KONA 4 show that some cipher material was
captured in the field and messages read. For example in 1943:
had to rely on captured material in order to read British agents
transmissions but this was not necessarily true of the central department. The
reports of Inspectorate 7/VI show that this traffic (special traffic to Cairo
with indicator GESH) was first solved in June 1943 by Referats 6 and 12:
continued to be read till November 1944 but it seems this was mostly from the
team assigned to the headquarters of General Mihailović and from the
liaison officers in Greece.
In the period
1941-44 the Greek population suffered under a triple occupation by Italian,
German and Bulgarian forces. The collapse of the Greek State, of the economy
and the falling living standards led many Greeks to take up arms against the
situation gave the Greek Communist Party an opportunity to build up a large
partisan movement in the countryside and use it to monopolize the anti Axis
resistance in Greece. With support from the British and after capturing Italian
heavy weapons in 1944 the Communists were one step away from gaining power in
period the German authorities were aware of the growing strength of the
partisan movements in the Balkans but they did not have the military forces
needed to permanently destroy them. Instead their forces garrisoned strategic
areas and urban centers.
Yugoslavia and in Greece they were able to monitor the military operations and
political maneuvers of the partisan movements through signals intelligence.
In 1944 the
German Army’s signal intelligence agency was able to solve a large part of the
ELAS radio traffic. Their success was possible mainly due to the many mistakes
made by the ELAS cipher clerks. This traffic provided valuable intelligence on
the ELAS organization, personalities and planned military and political
2). It seems
that the Greek communist military forces continued to use insecure cipher
systems even in the late 1940’s. An FBI report dated August 1950 (4) says the
AFSA (Armed Forces Security Agency) was working on the following Greek
communist crypto systems:
monome-dinome substitution (enciphered with additive) and single and double
transposition, similar in concept to the systems used in 1944.
reasonable to assume that the use of insecure ciphers by the communists was
exploited by the Greek Army and US agencies during the Greek Civil War.