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 in use by Wehrmacht personnel in a tent.
Photographic paper
Photographic print
70 x 100 mm
Serial number(s)
Category / Subcategory (if applicable)
Main collection (Warwickshire, UK).
In storage
Purchased from a Lithuanian dealer.
Acquisition Date
Sep 2022
Associated object(S)
Record Last Updated
Sep 24, 2023
A photograph of an Enigma I machine operated by Wehrmacht personnel in a tent. The stamp on the back: "Kopiert bei FotoHildenbrand Göppingen" (Copied at FotoHildenbrand Göppingen) suggests the photograph was taken in Göppingen, in southern Germany. Writing on the back reads: "Ein Funkspruch wird verschlüsselt" (A radio message being encrypted). The Enigma operator is photographed keying letters into the machine. The man on his left looking over him is possibly writing down the message. 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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