Photograph of an Enigma machine in use
Photograph of an Enigma machine in use
Production date
c. 1939-1945
Additional Title information
A photograph of an Enigma machine operated by Luftwaffe personnel.
Photographic paper.
Photographic print
55 x 70 mm
Serial number(s)
Category / Subcategory (if applicable)
Main collection (Warwickshire, UK).
In storage
Purchased from a German dealer.
Acquisition Date
Mar 2020
Associated object(S)
Record Last Updated
Sep 24, 2023
A photograph of an Enigma I machine operated by Luftwaffe personnel. Both the location of the photograph, as well as the year. are unfortunately unknown. The Enigma machine is operated on a folding table of the type issued for communications use. The Enigma operator (of the rank of Gefreiter) is photographed keying letters into the machine, with a man on his left looking over him and a man on his right writing down the message (both of the rank of Flieger). The photograph has scalloped edges, typical of photographs of the period.
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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