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Piece of wartime history under auction

05 November, 2012
Rare Enigma device to fall under the hammer in Knightsbridge this month dating from the second world war

Enthusiasts of military history will have a rare chance on 14th November to become the owner of an original German Enigma machine of the type famously decoded by the British at Bletchley Park during the years of the Second World War.

This 1941 machine is made of oak in the original design with three rotors, a design which precedes the war as they were used as commercial apparatus before being commandeered by the German military to take advantage of their enciphering capability to be used for the war effort.

Originally patented by Koch during the closing moments of the First World War, this example was designed and manufactured by Heimsoeth and Rinke from 1938 until nearly the end of the war, these machines were at the pinnacle of encryption technology at the time and proved to be a significant challenge to the British intelligence services, a challenge which the code-breakers cracked using the phenomenal computing power of Colossus at the secret facility in Bletchley Park.

A large number of these types of Enigma machines were appropriated by British military personnel at the end of the war but few remain in original condition with replacement components often coming from other machines or specially manufactured. The value in the one coming up for auction is that all the component parts bear the original matching serial numbers meaning it is exactly the same as it had been when originally used.

The Enigma machine is expected to raise up to 60,000 pounds when it comes under the hammer later this month.

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