Two photographs of an Enigma machine in use
Two photographs of an Enigma machine in use
Production date
Additional Title information
Two photographs of an Enigma machine operated by Luftwaffe personnel in Querum, Braunschweig in 1941.
Photographic paper (Agfa Brovira)
Photographic print
65 x 95 mm
Serial number(s)
Category / Subcategory (if applicable)
Main collection (Warwickshire, UK).
In storage
Purchased from a German dealer.
Acquisition Date
Oct 2018
Associated object(S)
Record Last Updated
Sep 24, 2023
A pair of photographs taken in the district of Querum, in the north east of Braunschweig in Lower Saxony. Taken in 1941 according to the inscriptions verso, they depict Luftwaffe personnel in white denim 'Drillich' uniforms, typically used for work details, weapons cleaning and drill practise. This detail suggests that the photographs very likely depict communications training. The lid of the Enigma machine is propped up by a 4.5V Enigma machine battery, with one man operating the machine, two writing down the cipher-text, and another observing. An important point of note is that in all of the photographs, the machine's plugboard is not visible to the viewer. At the very least, with the sensitivity of this cipher equipment, the plugboard is obscured from the view of the camera.
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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