2 minute read

Very Rare WWII Enigma Cipher Machine For Sale At Rau Antiques

LUXIST, May 2010--

While it was built before, and used during World War II, the US never mentioned the Enigma Machine details until the 1990s when it was declassified - though it is not American at all. The little unassuming box that looks like a typewriter is the subject of legend, and was a large factor in the US (and Allies) winning the war. It is unclear how things would have turned out if our greatest minds were unable to unlock the secrets of the Enigma Machine.

Enigma Luxist

Built and designed by the Germans, the Enigma Machine came in a few varieties and where code creating and deciphering machines. Originally commercial units since 1926, they are quite possibly the most complex non-computerized code machines ever made (though they are a mixture of mechanical and electronic parts). The Germans used them to send coded messages during the war, relying on the machine's ability to have over a billion combinations. No one was ever able to break the code just by seeing it. Breaking the code involved secretly capturing working Enigma Machines, but that was only half the battle. Merely having the box wasn't enough. You needed to have some manner of pattern or other code, the helped you decipher the code you were trying to decipher in the first place - at least this is my understanding of it. The link to the Wikipedia page above has lots (and lots) more information. So being able to decrypt a code that required other codes was very tough.

Breaking the code was very tough, and a serious achievement for cryptologists - the execution of which, was an international affair. Capturing an Enigma machine had to be done with absolute secrecy. If the Germans knew the Allies had working machines, then it would have compromised its use. So each intercepted unit remained totally secret. The 2000 movie U-517 was about a US submarine trying to capture a German submarine to secretly get their Enigma Machine. Throughout parts of the war, the Allies were able to intercept coded messages and decode them. Giving them the edge needed for victory in many circumstances. Due to the unassuming, and secret nature of the Enigma machine, most have been destroyed (either intentionally, or because someone didn't know what it was). Today, surviving (and working) Enigma machines are highly sought after collectible. They are extremely rare, and coveted by those interested in a range of collectibles including WWII items, as well as vintage complex machinery.

Probably the only Enigma machine available for sale in the world right now is available by Rau Antiques who recently acquired one. In very good cosmetic condition, and in working order, this three rotor style Enigma Machine was made around 1937. Extremely rare and tough to even see in museums. Price asked for it by Rau is $112,500.

—Ariel Adams publishes the luxury watch review site



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