Enigma machines

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A genuine Enigma machine, now preserved at Clement's History of Bon-Bons Museum, Brighton Pier. Its creator, Wilhelm Von Wonkastaffen is pictured next to it.

Enigma machines (Latin translation: Machinus in Enimigus), sometimes colloquially known as Enema machines were encoding devices used by the Nazis during the Second World War to implant a coded tablet into a messenger's bottom. Thus the messenger delivering the code was forced to goose-step, thanks to the immense pain caused by the enigma tablet (sometimes known as "enema tablets").

The coding machines were one of Germany's proudest inventions during WW2, and are still recognised as a technological wonder of its time. However, as with the British invention of radar being captured at Dunkirk, so was a device captured early on in the war by a British tourist in Germany, who mistook it for a sweet dispenser and who struggled to make it produce a gob-stopper. With the help of some Polish people, British mathematicians cracked the machine, only to find that there were no gob-stoppers inside, but instead a large collection of enigma tablets.

Enigma tablets

Enigma tablets are produced by inscribing code onto an enema pill stolen from the local "Krankenhaus." These pills were coloured red, white and black to identify them as a German produced pill, thus avoiding confusion for German encoders and hospital staff. Some critics claimed that this would make the pills easy for the enemy to spot, however the coding experts pointed out that the British decoders would practically have to be gay to find the pills in the first place (homosexuality was looked on badly by the Fuhrer, as it was a pleasure only he was allowed to enjoy). Unbeknownst to the Germans, most of the British decoders had spent their childhoods at Eton and Cambridge, and had been fully converted to the homosexual cause. Alan Turing himself was said to have taken pleasure in trying to find pills "located deep in a captured German spy's arse."[1]

A major disadvantage of the enigma tablet was the size of the tablet. To accommodate a whole coded message, a tablet needs to have a diameter of at maximum 10cm, which can be extremely painful for the messenger. The German goose-step was coincidentally developed in order to create a walk which is comfortable to exercise with an enigma tablet stuck up the rear end.

An example of a half-completed German enigma code found on an enigma tablet.

Enigma Code

Main article: Enigma Code

During the Second World War the Enigma Code was said to be the most diabolical code ever thought of, even triumphing the French Military's ingenious idea of writing random gibberish in invisible ink and hoping that the other person could guess what they meant. The principles behind the enigma code relied on the fact that every enigma machine had to produce tablets with writing on them that was small enough to fit on the tablet, but large enough to read. The British soon worked out that enigma messengers usually wore ridiculously large glasses and goose-stepped down the street when transporting the tablets.

Once the Germans had realised that the British had cracked the code by inspecting German spies' rear-ends, the Germans replaced miniature German writing with sudoku puzzles (an idea taken from Japanese coding). Unfortunately for them, British culture already required the code breakers to solve sudoku puzzles in the back of the newspaper on the train to work everyday, so the British decoders easily adapted to this. The other problem was that there were only 9 numbers in Sudoku puzzles and the German alphabet contains 26 letters, so messages had to be written with many letters missing, which although British decoders could crack with their knowledge of code-word puzzles, stumped the Germans receiving the messages anyway.

Zimmer Frame Telegram

The Zimmer frame telegram is one of the most famous uses of the enigma code and machine during WW2. Nazi Germany was planning to buy some more of those sexy "sombreros" for the SS soldiers to wear on parade from the Mexicans but, due to British blockading of ports, was finding it very hard to communicate with the Mexicans. It was therefore devised to send the message encoded in the enigma code.

However the big problem faced by the Germans was that walking a few miles with an enigma tablet caused immense pain and forced a messenger to goose-step but walking all the way from Germany to Mexico with an enigma tablet shoved up a messenger's posterior would likely kill the messenger. Thus the Germans came up with a precise but brilliant idea. They had many spare enigma machines lying about and no purpose for them (they had mass produced them way beyond necessity just so that the Fuhrer could show off the German industry). So the German scientists and mathematicians set to work dismantling the enigma machine and turning it into something useful that could help a person walk for hundreds of miles with something up their backside. When the invention was complete they named it the "Zimmer frame". It allowed a messenger to walk without using much of his buttock muscles thanks to the spare set of legs it provided.

A poster produced near the end of the war encouraging German workers to produce more Zimmer frames for the war effort. Despite this only one was ever used.

Despite the careful planning involved the Zimmer frame telegram was intercepted when the messenger hopped onto the wrong ferry at Calais and accidentally ended up in Dover. The Dover Town Home Guard immediately seized the messenger and brought him to their HQ. There the pensioners who formed the Home Guard were in awe of the wondrous contraption that could help them walk despite their old faculties. One Home Guard member went home that evening and wrote in his diary, "Thanks to this wondrous machine we captured off the Germans, the zimmer-frame, I now have a chance to be able to board the invasion fleet ships heading for Normandy. At the age of 68 I can still show those Jerries that I am as fit as a fiddle."[2]

After the war the Zimmer frame was put into commercial use and still caters for the muscle-weak pensioners of Europe today.

"It was up his arse!"

When reports of the enigma project first leaked out to the public, in the 1950s, people were amazed not only that the British had cracked one of the most devious codes of all time without help from the Americans but also the fact that most of the decoders were gay (which didn't go down well in 1950s British society). A documentary was made on the project that was issued by the Government in an effort to disguise most of the truth behind the enigma code breaking, and pretend that the documentary covered what went on in the war to the last detail. In one scene an actor playing Alan Turing describes the moment when he discovered the enigma tablet and would crack the code. It is said that this scene later inspired Monty Python to perform their famous Dead Parrot sketch:

MI5 Agent: "How did you discover this tablet, Mr. Turing?"

Alan Turing: "It was implanted in a German spy's rear end."

MI5 Agent: "Rear end, how do you mean?"

Alan Turing: "It was in his bottom, between his buttocks."

MI5 Agent: "I still do not quite gather. Your information seems to be inappropriate, I am sure I am just misunderstanding."

Alan Turing: "No I'm serious. It was up his rump, in his derrière, into his posterior. The tablet was inside his arsehole, up his bum, inside his butt."

MI5 Agent: "No, no, no. Even the Germans would not put a piece of code up there!"

Alan Turing: "For God sake! It was up his arse!"

See Also

  1. Bletchley House Memoirs (1993)
  2. Fred Bloggs (1963) Fred Blogg's diary

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