If Enigma had never been cracked…


  • Liaison TripleA '11 '10

    If Enigma had not been cracked, what if any impact would this have had?  Would the war have ended the same regardless? or would the cost in lives had been higher?

    Or would England have succumb?


  • 2017 2016 2015

    probably more deaths and same outcome, but what’s a couple million more to stalin anyway


  • 2017 2016 2015 Organizer '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    More allied shipping loses would be the worse effect



  • Allied industrial would roll Axis into a lose regardless, the code not being cracked would just allow German naval units and air power to act more stealthy in their operations but it wouldn’t change the tide of outcome though that would be one hell of an alien space bat if the Enigma was that powerful.

    But the code was doomed to fail anyways, the code doesn’t use the same letter for the actual letter itself thus it was only time before someone figured it out and since Germany was always transmitting the weather of the day at first dawn so the Heer would know if they had air support or not, someone would figure it out which they did.


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    I concur that the failure to crack Enigma would have hurt the Allies but not fatally so.  In the preface to his book Why The Allies Won, Richard Overy writes that although it’s fashionable to regard intelligence as having been a decisive difference between the two sides, he wasn’t sufficiently convinced of this to give the topic its own chapter in his book; instead, he limits himself to mentioning it in the cases where it clearly had special significance.  I think that the main effect of failure to crack Enigma would have been to make things more difficult for the Allies in the Battle of the Atlantic because some of the low points for them in the actual war were on occasions where their ability to decrypt Enigma was temporarily interrupted (such as when a fourth rotor was added to the Enigma machine).


  • 2018 2017

    One of the most interesting details here is all the trouble they went to “collateral sourcing” the information gained from the Engima and IJN naval codes.  For example, if a certain fleet movement had been revealed by enigma, a “recon” flight would be planned to overfly that fleet.  By observing the recon plane, a second possible source for the information would be offered to the enemy.  Careful attention was paid not simply to hiding the Bletchley Park efforts and the poles who invented the first Bombes–it was also designed to protect the value of these advancements by not revealing to the enemy that their code had been broken at all.

    “Cognitive dissonance” would tend to dismiss the unlikely or unthinkable–the Germans believed that the Allies could not have cracked the entire system because Germany’s “superior” technology and intelligence system were totally incapable of cracking the same types or even less advanced types of Allied codes.  Modern methods of encryption are so much more advanced than Engima; that tends lead to the conclusion that all such “primitive” systems were highly susceptible to interception and attack, but that was not the practical or technical reality of 1930s Germany–they correctly assumed that they were working with a novel and advanced system that was very, very difficult to reverse engineer.

    What the disregarded was that an even more advanced and dedicated effort (than the development of the Enigma machine) was well within the within the grasp of the Poles, British and US working together, and was in fact, inevitable given enough time and mastery, which these three groups had developed, even before the open war began.

    Same exact story with nuclear weapons development–having chased off all their best minds and followed poor leads in uranium extraction and bomb design, the Germans assumed that their own obstacles, failures and shortfalls were going to be shared by their enemy.  This is a ‘sun tzu’ level error–because your enemy is not replicating your bad practices, they are not going to be limited by them, as you are.


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    The British similarly tried to muddy the waters about how they’d gotten their hands on the Zimmerman Telegram in WWI, and the Germans similarly tried to find explanations which offered an alternative to the hard-for-them-to-swallow possibility that the British might have cracked their code system (which they had).



  • But regardless we can agree that the Enigma was powerful for its time and both sides after the war agreed that if the code used the same letters for the same actual letters then the code may of never been broken.


  • 2019 2018 2017

    @Caesar:

    But regardless we can agree that the Enigma was powerful for its time and both sides after the war agreed that if the code used the same letters for the same actual letters then the code may of never been broken.

    I’m not entirely certain what you mean by: “if the code used the same letters for the same actual letters then the code may of never been broken”. If you don’t replace the letters to be encoded by something else, you haven’t actually encoded your message. So, yeah.

    I will say that an example of an electro-mechanical encoding machine, one that is believed to have never been cracked while in use, was the SIGABA used by the US Army and US Navy from the late 1930s until the 1950s. Link:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SIGABA

    -Midnight_Reaper



  • @Midnight_Reaper:

    @Caesar:

    But regardless we can agree that the Enigma was powerful for its time and both sides after the war agreed that if the code used the same letters for the same actual letters then the code may of never been broken.

    I’m not entirely certain what you mean by: “if the code used the same letters for the same actual letters then the code may of never been broken”. If you don’t replace the letters to be encoded by something else, you haven’t actually encoded your message. So, yeah.

    I will say that an example of an electro-mechanical encoding machine, one that is believed to have never been cracked while in use, was the SIGABA used by the US Army and US Navy from the late 1930s until the 1950s. Link:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SIGABA

    -Midnight_Reaper

    The Enigma literally scrambled the words you typed based on what letters were programmed which Germany changed each day and then they added an extra level of security by having plugs that would changed the letters again for each day so you would get something like phase 1 means that G is now L and the added prong makes L into Q. But your messaged cannot share the same letters equally so in English, each day the first code sent out was the weather report which always started as “weather” so to send it in English, because the word Weather starts with W, the code would scramble the W into what ever the phase 1 setting of letters so W would never be W and that was the key to breaking the code.



  • If Enigma had never been cracked add millions of additional tons of shipping to the bottom of the Atlantic.


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