Thursday, May 25, 2017

Interesting information in TICOM report I-170

The NSA has declassified the TICOM report I-170 ‘Report on French and Greek Systems by Oberwachtmeister Dr. Otto Karl Winkler of OKH/FNAST 4’ (dated January 1946).


I’ll probably write a more detailed essay on the compromise of Greek military, diplomatic and partisan codes in WWII.

Some interesting excerpts from the report:

My first employment was on the breaking and translating of Greek Air Force messages in Spring 1941. The unit was in BUCHAREST at that time and later it was at BANJA KOSTENIC in Bulgaria. C.O. was Hptm. SCHMIDT, head of the cryptography and translation department from then until Autumn 1944 was Prof. Alfred KNESCHKE, a Professor of Mathematics from Saxony.

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Greek Army and Navy messages were not broken until after the conquest of Greece, when captured ‘Codes’ were read during the attack on Crete.

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In May 1941 the unit moved to ATHENS. In the autumn of that year the De Gaulle troops in Syria began to send cipher messages. ………………………………………………… Practically the whole Syrian WT traffic was read and a complete picture obtained of the build-up, strength, composition and Organization of the French armed forces, of the political administration and the names of all important personalities, as well as all changes and troops movements. In charge of evaluation of French material at this time was Wm. KÜHNAPFEL (from KONIGSBERG).

As the French used also to refer to British troop movements and officer personalities from time to time, such pointers were of considerable use to our English evaluation section, as the British ciphers could not as a rule be broken by German Sigint.

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The unit moved to BELGRADE in Autumn 1943, thence, in August 1944 to PERNITZ near WIENER NEUSTADT, However, I received a new task in Spring 1944 with the appearance of Greek messages sent by ELAS. In the course of our two year stay in Athens I had been able to learn modern Greek almost perfectly, on the basis of a knowledge of classical Greek and spurred on by love for and interest in Greece. In addition my duties had provided me with a certain experience of cryptography and a good translation technique. Thus I was put in charge of Greek cryptography and was assisted in the actual cryptographic work by Uffz. Diether STROBL from BERLIN, an English interpreter and technical student. I had held the rank of Wachtmeister since Christmas 1943.

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Double transpositions are regarded as a secure type of cipher and are therefore used by many British agents. To the best of my knowledge the unit never succeeded in breaking one and only occasional captured material has rendered it possible to read some traffic retrospectively. For the sake of security it is essential to avoid using complete or even square boxes, typical beginnings or endings of messages and constantly recurring addresses and signatures, to use each key as little as possible and as far as possible to have different keys for each box of the pairs The Greeks overlooked all these rules right up to the end, with the result that messages in the same setting and with the same number of groups (Elementeanzahl) cropped up.

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In any case we succeeded in breaking 50 – 60% of the traffic tackled and as important messages were always retransmitted on several links with different keys, we were able to build up an almost complete picture of the build-up, organization and composition of EAM and ELAS, to compile lists of their leading personalities and officers and to inform the competent German political and military authorities in good time about many planned military and political actions, acts of sabotage, ambushes, dynamitings, etc. I can only remember a few details and cannot reproduce examples systematically as the evaluation of the material wan not my job, which consisted only of deciphering, decoding and translating the available material.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The progress of my old NSA freedom of information act cases or alternatively ήμουν νιος και γέρασα…

So far my remaining cases with the NSA FOIA office can be broken into two groups. One concerns requests I made in 2015 and these seem to be progressing slowly but I expect I will get responses this year.

The problem is that my old cases from 2012 seem to be stuck in time. Back then I requested several TICOM reports and even agreed to pay for two large files (~500 pages).

Since then I’ve been told that these cases are being processed, then they were in the review queue, then final review etc.

Picture of NSA foia requester waiting for the declassification of TICOM reports:


Saturday, May 6, 2017

Update

I’ve added information from TICOM report I-26 ‘Interrogation of Oblt. Schubert (OKH/Chef HNW/Gen.d.NA) on Russian Military and Agents’ systems at OKM Signals School, Flensburg on 17 June 1945’ in the essay Soviet partisan codes and KONA 6.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Cipher machines of WWII

In the period 1939-45 most countries enciphered their communications using hand methods (codebooks, transposition etc). Only a few countries used cipher machines.

The following list covers these countries and the specific models they used.

United States



SIGTOT T/P (one time tape system)

CCM - Combined Cipher Machine

M-209 (US version of the Hagelin C-38)


Hebern cipher machine (5 rotor version)

SIGFOY/M-325 (Enigma type)

Britain

Typex (Enigma type)

Rockex T/P (one time tape system)

CCM - Combined Cipher Machine

Poland


Soviet Union

K-37 (Hagelin B-211 copy)

Pogoda or Pagoda (copy of US AT&T double tape machine)

M-100/101 T/P

France


Hagelin B-211 modified

Hagelin C-38 (US M-209 version)


Sweden

Hagelin B-211

Hagelin C-38

Norway

Hagelin C-38

Holland

Hagelin C-38

Enigma G

Portugal

Hagelin C-38

Switzerland

Enigma K

Germany




Enigma I (plugboard machine)

Enigma M4 (4 rotor naval version)

SG (Schlüsselgerät) 41 (Hagelin type)


T-52 T/P

T-43 T/P (one time tape system)

Italy

Enigma K

Enigma G

Enigma I


Hagelin C-38

Olivetti T/P

Japan






Finland

Hagelin C-36

Romania

Enigma G

Enigma I

Hungary

Enigma I

Slovakia

Enigma I

Bulgaria

Enigma I

Croatia

Enigma K

Spain

Enigma K