German divers exploring the Baltic Sea for abandoned fishing nets have found a rare Enigma cipher machine used by the Nazi military during World War Two which they think was thrown overboard from a sinking submarine.
Thinking they had found a typewriter caught in a net on the seabed of Gelting Bay, underwater archaeologist Florian Huber immediately realized the historical importance of the find.
“I’ve made many exciting and strange discoveries in the past 20 years. But I never dreamt that we would one day find one of the legendary Enigma machines,” said.
The Nazi military used these incredible machines to send and receive secret messages during World War Two.
At Bletchley Park codebreaking center, a British team led by Allan Turing is credited with unraveling the code, shortening the war, and saving many thousands of lives.
Soon after Germany’s surrender in May 1945, the crews of about 50 submarines, or U-Boots, followed an order to scuttle their ships in Gelting Bay, near the Danish border, to avoid giving them to the Allies. Destroying encryption machines as part of the order.
“We suspect our Enigma went overboard in the course of this event,” said Huber, of the Kiel-based company Submaris which heads underwater research missions.
Germans sank more than 200 submarines in the North and Baltic Seas at the end of the war.
The Enigma machine, which looks like a typewriter, made up of a keyboard and wheels which combined messages. Although many hundred thousand machines were produced, only a few hundred are known to exist. They sell at auction for tens of thousands of euros.