Enigma Missing - Cryptonomicon Fans Not Suspected (Yet)
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Tue, 4 Apr 100 13:30:06 -0700
Subject: Enigma Missing - Cryptonomicon Fans Not Suspected (Yet)
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BBC News Online: UK
Monday, 3 April, 2000, 15:40 GMT 16:40 UK
Reward offered for coding machine
A L5,000 reward has been offered for the return of an Enigma machine which
was used by the Nazis to send coded messages during World War Two
The machine, worth about L100,000 and one of only three in the world, was
stolen from the code-cracking Station X at Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire
The reward is being offered by BT, owners of part of the site in Milton
Keynes since the Second World War.
"It is a tragedy that the machine has been stolen," Alan White, director
of BT's property division, said. "I would like to see it back in its
rightful place with Bletchley Park Trust."
The enigma machine looks like an old-fashioned typewriter, but the codes
it produced were so sophisticated the Germans believed they were
Bletchley Park Trust director Christine Large said the trust and police
were prepared to offer an amnesty if the machine was stolen by amateurs
who wanted to return it.
"If it's some young twit who's just run off with it who realises it was a
silly thing to do, or if it was a prank, we're not going to be heavy-handed
with them," she said.
"Our priority is get the machine back in good condition."
She said the theft had cast a dark cloud over Bletchley Park.
"We would liken it to the theft of the Cezanne at Oxford's Ashmolean
Museum." Thames Valley police say the machine was stolen on Saturday
afternoon, when the centre's museum was open to the public.
Officers believe it was lifted from a glass display cabinet, where it formed
the centrepiece of the main public display.
Security at the site is being stepped up since the theft.
The codebreakers of Station X are credited with shortening the war by
The top secret site employed teams of mathematicians, linguists and chess
champions. By the end of the war 10,000 people were working there.
Its work was so secret that even after the war its existence was not
revealed. It was not until 1967 that details were made public, and some of
its former workers later appeared on a television documentary about the
station's historic achievements.
Winston Churchill had dubbed the staff as "the geese that laid the golden
eggs, and never cackled".
The codebreakers included mathematician Alan Turing, seen as a genuis whose
pioneering work paved the way for modern computers.
The site was eventually scheduled for demolition, but a farewell party
brought together 400 codebreakers whose stories were so fascinating it was
decided to try to save the building instead.
Not only was that goal achieved, but the story of Station X is being turned
into a L90m Hollywood blockbuster starring Harvey Keitel and Jon Bon Jovi.
Rock star Mick Jagger is a Bletchley Park enthusiast, and even owns an
Enigma machine, but of a different type from the one stolen.
© 2000 Peter Langston