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deadliest weapon of the war against Germany. As the final TICOM report
makes clear, the German high-level cryptography "was brilliantly
conceived," but the cryptanalytic breakthroughs of the British and
American codebreakers were "more brilliantly conceived."
So good was the Allied ability to eavesdrop on a wide range of German
communications that it has recently led to troubling questions about
how early in the war the Allies discovered evidence of the Holocaust.
"Allied Comint agencies had been exploiting a number of French codes
and ciphers from the beginning of the war," NSA historian Robert J.
Hanyok recently told a gathering in the agency's Friedman Auditorium.
"They soon found reflections of the anti-Jewish laws in their intercept of
both Vichy diplomatic and colonial radio and cable traffic." Pressured by
the German occupation authorities, France in 1942 began rounding up
Jews for shipment to "resettlement sites," a euphemism for concentration
camps.
According to a comprehensive NSA study undertaken by Hanyok,
Allied communications intelligence would have picked up indications of
this roundup from the cable lines and airwaves linking Vichy France with
foreign capitals. The communications lines would have been buzzing with
pleas by worried relatives for information on loved ones interned in
various French camps. But in the end, Hanyok noted, only a fraction of
the intercepts were ever distributed and the principal focus was always
on strategic military traffic, not routine diplomatic communications.
"Intelligence on the Holocaust was NOT critical to Allied strategy," said
Hanyok [emphasis in original]. "Did Comint reveal the Holocaust, and,
especially, its final aim?" he asked. "The real problem," he concluded,
"was not interpreting the intelligence, but the attitude by the Allies, and
the rest of the world, that the unthinkable was actually happening."
In March 1945, as the damp chill of a long English winter began to
fade, TICOM teams began to fan out across Germany in search of
codebreakers and their books and equipment. "One day we got this
frantic call," said Paul E. Neff, a U.S. Army major assigned to Bletchley
Park. "They had run across these people, Germans, in this castle . . .
[who] had been in the cryptographic business, signals intelligence, all of
them. Bongo. Quickly Bletchley sent me." Within a few days, Neff was at


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the castle, in the German state of Saxony.
"The war was still going on and we were pretty far forward," Neff said.
"We sorted the people out, interrogated, tried to find out what they were
working on, where they had stood with it, tried to get our hands on all
the papers that were left. . . . But my problem became, What are we
going to do with them? Because they apparently had a lot of good
information. . . . These Germans, as you might know, had been working
on the Russia problem too." Neff had stumbled into a gold mine, because
not only had the codebreakers worked on Russian codes and ciphers,
but the castle contained a German Foreign Office signals intelligence
archive. Neff's dilemma was the location of the castle, which was located
in territory assigned to the Soviets”and Russian troops were quickly
moving into the area. Neff needed to get the people and codebreaking
materials out fast.
Neff contacted Colonel George Bicher, in charge of the American
TICOM unit in London, and suggested shipping the documents”and the
German codebreakers”to England. But the issue of transporting the
prisoners across the English Channel became very sensitive. "Apparently
they had a hard time when this thing hit London because they couldn't
decide what to do. They had to clear it [up to] the attorney general or
whatever he's called over there. Is it legal to do?" Eventually the British
agreed to have the Germans secretly transferred to England. "We got a
plane one day," said Neff, "escorted this crowd down to the airfield, put
them on the plane, and flew them over to London. The British picked
them up over there and gave them a place to stay, fed them, and
interrogated the hell out of them. Now, what happened to those TICOM
records I don't know." Two days later, Russian troops overtook that same
area.


The May morning was as dark as black velvet when Paul K. Whitaker
opened his eyes at 4:45. Short and stout, with a thick crop of light brown
hair, the American Army first lieutenant slowly began to wake himself
up. For two years he had been assigned to Hut 3, the section of Bletchley
Park that specialized in translating and analyzing the decrypted Enigma
Army and Air Force messages.
At thirty-eight, Whitaker was considerably older than his fellow junior
officers. For more than a decade before joining the Army in 1942 he had
studied and taught German in the United States as well as in Germany
and Austria, receiving his doctorate from Ohio State. While doing
graduate work at the University of Munich in 1930 he often dined at a
popular nearby tavern, the Osteria Bavaria. There, at the stark wooden
tables, he would frequently see another regular customer enjoying the
Koniginpastete and the russische Eier. Seated nearby, always at the same



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round table and surrounded by friends and associates, was a quiet but
ambitious local politician by the name of Adolf Hitler.
The first dim rays of light illuminated a fresh spring snow, surprising
Whitaker as he stepped out of his quarters. Like dusting powder, the
snow lent a certain beauty to the tired estate, gently filling in the cracks
on the red brick walls and softening the dark blemishes caused by years
of chimney soot.
Rather than head for Hut 3, Whitaker went straight to the bus stop at
Bletchley Park. Also waiting there was First Lieutenant Selmer S.
Norland, who had traveled to England with Whitaker several years
earlier. Raised in northern Iowa, Norland had the solid, muscular
features of a farmer and a serious face with deep-set eyes. Before
entering the Army in 1942 he taught history and German in a local high
school for three years and now worked as a translator in Hut 3 with
Whitaker.
At precisely 6:00 A.M. the special bus arrived, coughing thick diesel
fumes and cutting neat brown lines in the virgin snow. About a dozen
officers and enlisted men, both British and American, climbed aboard.
Seated near Whitaker was another American Army officer shipped over
several years earlier, Arthur Levenson, a tall, lean mathematician from
New York who worked in Hut 6 as a cryptanalyst. Like Whitaker and
Norland, Levenson, who also doubled as the secretary of the Bletchley
Park Chess Club, had spent time working on code problems before his
transfer to England. In July 1943 Whitaker, Norland, Levenson, and
seven other cryptologic officers boarded the huge British liner Aquitania
as it set sail for Scotland. A few weeks later they became the first U.S.
Army codebreakers to be assigned to Bletchley.
A soldier in the sentry box snapped a salute as the heavy bus pulled
out through the park's intricate iron gate. Like cenobite monks leaving
their monastery for the first time, the newest TICOM team had little idea
what to expect. Since the Enigma project's beginning, British policy had
forbidden sending anyone who worked on it into combat areas. For years
the Bletchley staff had been closeted voyeurs, reading about the war
through newspapers and purloined messages.
The snow-covered fields began merging into an endless white
comforter as the bus hurried through the Midlands toward London.
Sitting near the window, Howard Campaigne certainly felt the
excitement. As a young instructor at the University of Minnesota with a
Ph.D. in mathematics, he sent the Navy a homemade design for an
encryption device. Although Navy officials turned down the invention,
they did offer him a correspondence course in cryptanalysis, which he
passed. "I eventually got my commission and it was dated 5 December
1941," Campaigne recalled. "So two days later the balloon went up and



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we were in the war."
Now as the bus pulled up to Croydon Air Field for the flight to Paris
on the first leg of their mission, Campaigne was about to lead the hunt
for a mysterious German cipher machine nicknamed the Fish.
Although Bletchley Park had conquered the Enigma machine, the
Germans had managed to go one better. They developed a new and even
more secret cipher machine, the Geheimschreiber, or secret writer, which
was reserved for the very-highest-level messages, including those to and
from Hitler himself. German cryptographers called an early model
Swordfish. The Americans and British simply called them the Fish.
Unlike Enigma, the Fish were capable of automatically encrypting at one
end and decrypting at the other. Also, rather than the standard 26-letter
alphabet, the Fish used the 32-character Baudot code, which turned the
machine into a high-speed teleprinter.
TICOM's goal was to capture a working model intact and thus learn
exactly how the Germans built such a complex, sophisticated encryption
device. Especially, they needed to discover faster and better ways to
defeat such machines in the future should they be copied and used by
the Russians.
The Royal Air Force flight to Paris was mostly smooth, reminding Paul
Whitaker of sailing in a boat through gentle swells. Along with a number
of the other men on the flight, he was on a plane for the first time. "The
impressions were amazingly lacking in strangeness," he jotted in his
small black notebook, "probably because one sees so many films taken
from aircraft. It seemed completely normal to be looking down on tiny
houses and fields a mile below."
Within a few days the team, packed into an olive-green, 2 ½ -ton U.S.
Army truck and an open jeep, pushed into Germany. Their target was a
suspected major Air Force signals intelligence center in the southern
Bavarian city of Kaufbeuren, a market center of medieval towers and
crumbling fortifications on the Wertach River. Fresh from their secret
monastery in the English countryside, many on the TICOM team were
unprepared for the devastation they witnessed. "The roads were lined
with burned-out and shot up tanks and vehicles of all sorts," Whitaker
jotted in his journal as he bounced along the road from Heidelberg, "and
many villages, even small ones, were badly smashed up and burned."
Around midnight, they arrived at Augsburg, a city that would soon
become one of NSA's most secret and important listening posts in
Europe. The next morning, having spent the night in a former German
Air Force headquarters, the team discovered a communications center in
the basement. In some of these buildings the Allies had moved in so fast
that the ghosts of the former occupants still seemed to be present. The
Germans had departed with such haste from one facility that when the


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Americans arrived the teleprinters were still disgorging long thin message
tapes.
Other teleprinters provided insight into the private horror of defeat.
"How are things down there?" read one tape still dangling from the
machine. Whitaker saw it was from a soldier in the cathedral town of
Ulm to a colleague in Augsburg. "Reports here say that the Americans
are in Augsburg already." "No," the soldier replied, "everything here is
O.K." But suddenly he added, "My God, here they are, auf Wiedersehen."
Within a few days the team struck gold. They came upon an entire
convoy of four German signal trucks, complete with four Fish machines,
a signals technician, German drivers, and a lieutenant in charge. Arthur
Levenson and Major Ralph Tester, a British expert on the Fish, escorted
the whole lot, including the Germans, back to England. Once at Bletchley
Park the machines were reverse-engineered to determine exactly how
they were built and how they operated. (Levenson would later return to
Washington and go on to become chief of the Russian code-breaking
section at NSA.)
With enough Fish and other equipment to keep the engineers busy for
a long time at Bletchley, the team began a manhunt for key German
codebreakers. On May 21, 1945, Lieutenant Commander Howard
Campaigne and several other TICOM officers interviewed a small group of
Sigint personnel being held in Rosenheim. They had all worked for a unit
of the Signals Intelligence Agency of the German Abwehr High Command,
a major target of TICOM. What the prisoners told Campaigne would lead
to one of the most important, and most secret, discoveries in the history
of Cold War codebreaking. Their command, they said, had built a
machine that broke the highest-level Russian cipher system. The
machine, now buried beneath the cobblestones in front of a building
nearby, had been designed to attack the advanced Russian teleprinter
cipher”the Soviet equivalent of the Fish.
If this was true, it was breathtaking. For over six years U.S. and
British codebreakers had placed Japan and Germany under a
microscope, to the near exclusion of Russia and almost all other areas.
Now with the war over and with Communist Russia as their new major
adversary, the codebreakers would have to start all over from scratch.
Rut if a working machine capable of breaking high-level Russian ciphers
was indeed buried nearby, years of mind-numbing effort would be saved.
The Germans, eager to be released from prison, quickly agreed to lead
TICOM to the machine. Campaigne wasted no time and the next day the
twenty-eight prisoners, dressed in their German Army uniforms, began
pulling up the cobblestones and opening the ground with picks and
shovels. Slowly the heavy wooden boxes began to appear. One after
another they were pulled from the earth, until the crates nearly filled the



16
grounds. In all there were a dozen huge chests weighing more than 600
pounds each; 53 chests weighing nearly 100 pounds each; and about 53
more weighing 50 pounds each. It was a massive haul of some 7 ½ tons.
Over the next several days the dark gray equipment was carefully
lifted from its crates and set up in the basement of the building. Then,
like magic, high-level encrypted Russian communications, pulled from
the ether, began spewing forth in readable plaintext. Whitaker, who
pulled into the camp a short time later, was amazed. "They were working
like beavers before we ever arrived," he scribbled in his notebook. "They
had one of the machines all set up and receiving traffic when we got
there."
The Russian system involved dividing the transmissions into nine
separate parts and then transmitting them on nine different channels.
The German machines were able to take the intercepted signals and
stitch them back together again in the proper order. For Campaigne and
the rest of the TICOM team, it was a once-in-a-lifetime discovery. Back in
Washington, Campaigne would eventually go on to become chief of
research at NSA.
Once the demonstration was over, Campaigne had the German
soldiers repack the equipment and the next day it was loaded on a
convoy, completely filling four heavy trucks. Two TICOM members,
including First Lieutenant Selmer Norland, who would also go on to a
long career at NSA, accompanied the equipment and soldiers back to
England. There it was set up near Bletchley Park and quickly put into
operation. It, or a working model, was later shipped back to Washington.
The discovery of the Russian codebreaking machine was a principal
reason why both the U.S. and British governments still have an absolute
ban on all details surrounding the TICOM operations.


All told, the TICOM teams salvaged approximately five tons of German
Sigint documents. In addition, many cryptologic devices and machines
were found and returned to Bletchley.
Equally important were the interrogations of the nearly 200 key
German codebreakers, some of which were conducted at a secret location
codenamed Dustbin. In addition to the discovery of the Russian Fish,
another reason for the enormous secrecy surrounding TICOM may be the
question of what happened to the hundreds of former Nazi code-breakers
secretly brought to England. Were any of the war criminals given new
identities and employed by the British or American government to work
on Russian codebreaking problems? Among those clandestinely brought
into the United States was the top codebreaker Dr. Erich Huettenhain. "It
is almost certain that no major cryptanalytic successes were achieved
without his knowledge," said one TICOM document.

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