Photograph of an Enigma machine in use
Photograph of an Enigma machine in use
Production date
Additional Title information
A photograph of an Enigma machine operated by Luftwaffe personnel at a communications post during the Western Campaign (Westfeldzug) in 1940.
Photographic paper
Photographic print
85 x 85 mm
Serial number(s)
Category / Subcategory (if applicable)
Main collection (Warwickshire, UK).
In storage
Purchased from a German dealer.
Acquisition Date
Nov 2018
Associated object(S)
Record Last Updated
Sep 24, 2023
A photograph of an Enigma I machine operated by Luftwaffe personnel during the Western Campaign (Westfeldzug) in 1940. The location of where the photograph was taken is unknown, but it is likely either France, Belgium or the Netherlands. The Enigma machine is operated at a table, with an officer standing beside the Enigma operator and with a communications vehicle in the background. To the left of the Enigma machine is a field telephone with an operator writing down the message.
Photographs of Enigma machines in use are very rare. During the War, it was strictly forbidden to take photographs of the Enigma machine and other cipher equipment. The Allgemeine Schlüsselregeln für die Wehrmacht (1944 edition) states: "IV. Geheimhaltung. 9. Das Photographieren von Schlüsseln, Schlüsselmitteln und Aufzeichnungen aller Art hierüber ist verboten. Beim Photographiern von Nachrichtenstellen oder Nachrichtentrupps ist Vorsorge zu treffen, daß rechtzeitig alle Gegenstände entfernt werden, die der Geheimhaltung unterliegen" (IV. Secrecy keeping. 9. Photographing keys, key tools and any kind of records related to this is prohibited. When photographing communications stations or communications troops, precautions must be taken to remove all objects that are subject to confidentiality in a timely manner). However, there were some people who did take some photographs, such as this example. Valuable information can be gained from these images, such as the number of personnel that operated the machine and how the machine and associated equipment were set up.
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