Enigma and the Soviets

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by jonwilly, Jun 15, 2011.

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  1. 2nd attempt.

    I have just been watching one of the Subversive US TV programs 'Battleplan'.
    In the program a statement is made that I have never heard before.
    The subject is Soviet Intelligence during the Battle of Kursk.
    Words to the effect of
    Zhukov had three sources of Strategic Intelligence on German intentions.

    The Lucy ring of Disaffected Senior German officers.
    Limited information from UK's Enigma intercepts, which UK was trying to keep Secret.
    And new too me
    The Soviets had broken the German Enigma Traffic by themselves and this was only recently released.

    Does any one have more information on this Revalation ?

  2. A few years ago John Hughes Wilson delivered a very entertaining after dinner speech to the Guild of Battlefield Guides. His theme was some intelligence mysteries of WW2. One of these was on the subject of Soviet intelligence.

    He quoted a Russian military attache from the early 1990s in the early post cold war years giving a presentation to RUSI and presenting extraordinary information from the newly opened Soviet Archives. The Soviets appeared to have had an agent in OKW. The archives allegedly showed that the agent was sufficiently well placed that Stalin could question a matter that arose from the AM Conference and have an answer before the evening conference. This wasn't enigma but some form of human intelligence. The suggestion was that it was not a single person but a pair of agents. One being a Luftwaffe signals officer and the other Martin Bormann.

    JHW mentioned that nothing was known about Soviet code breaking in WW2. But did we think a nation famous for mathematicians and chess players would not think about cracking codes?
  3. LancePrivateJones

    LancePrivateJones LE Book Reviewer

    There has also been speculation about the wartime activities of Heinrich Müller the Gestapo boss.
    Theories have him acting as a double agent for the Soviet NKVD which could clear some of these mysteries up.

    He wasn't OKW as such, but he must have had access to highly confidential stuff.

    Speculation, I know, but there could be something in it.
  4. As I have said, the US made program Battleplan Stated that the Russians had a way of Decoding Enigma.
    I have never heard anything along these lines but I am no expert and so I asked the board.
    I tried Wiki and a few other quires but nothing along the lines of a Russian Bomb or Alan Turing.
    There have been many theories on just who was passing on information from the Wolfslair, Senior General Staff Officers via The Swiss based Lucy Ring seeming favourite.
    I have liked what I read on Zhukov, perhaps the first Sgt Major to Make Field Marshal or whatever the Soviets called him.

  5. Everything I have read about the Battle of Kursk has said that the Brits supplied the intelligence information that enabled the Russians to prepare for the attack. The information was gained from Enigma intercepts but the Russians were told that it was from a spy ring in Switzerland, most probably the Lucy Ring.

    As an aside John, Zhukov was not without some balls. His decision to ride a horse that had thrown Stalin in the victory parade in Moscow could well have ended unhappily.
  6. Whil I'm not doubting we did help the Red Army the shape of the Kursk salient once formed and the overall strategic position meant that predicting an attempt to pinch it out was hardly difficult. And even then the Sovs misread the schwerpunkt, they called North, they got South. Not that it mattered, the tactical excellence displayed by the Germans (well, leaving aside the initial attack in the North) was more than outweighed by Soviet operational art.
  7. Ah yes this little incident ... after ~3:20 .... the Ruskies always put on a good parade and this one complete with the " Roar " ... Zhukov stole the day and as a reward IIRC received a sideways posting to command in Siberia or somewhere similar .

    Digression over .
  8. 'Wully' Robertson enlisted as a private soldier in 1877 in the 16th (Queen's) Lancers and was appointed Chief of the Imperial General Staff in December 1915.
  9. Interestingly, one of the most effective methods of determining the Wehrmacht schwerpunkt was to assertain the location/axis of the 'elite' units.

    In March '45, Operation Frühlingserwachen was launched along 3 main axis. The Red Army quickly identified SS Division Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler's position and concentrated their main defensive effort there. Bingo!

    As regards the Red Army's skill at operational art, I remain unconvinced of the degree to which many historians and analysts give them credit. If you have sufficient forces, in depth, even a monkey can achieve operarational and strategic success after a long series of tactical failures.
  10. 'As regards the Red Army's skill at operational art, I remain unconvinced of the degree to which many historians and analysts give them credit. If you have sufficient forces, in depth, even a monkey can achieve operarational and strategic success after a long series of tactical failures.'

    There is a saying that in a war, the British Army always only wins one battle - the last one!
  11. Surely, and not being an expert stand by to be corrected, but if the Sovs had highly placed agents, which I think is acknowledged, then surely they could readily have got hold of the required code books with the rotor settings etc and using captured enigma machines have read German messages ? Or is that too simple ?

  12. I believe that we did something similar at one stage by boarding German weather forecast vessel(s?) in the North Atlantic before they had time to ditch their machines / rotor setting day lists etc .... under some significant threat not to ditch before the boarding parties had snatched the prize . The Russians almost certainly had agents in the UK probably even within Bletchley Park to give them intelligence info .
  13. seaweed

    seaweed LE Book Reviewer

    Our side of the Enigma story was well told in (wait for it) "Enigma" by Hugh Sebag-Montefiore in 2000, including the story of the bouncing of the weather ship Munchen and indeed the heroic boarding of a U-boat by Sub Lt Balme RN from HMS Bulldog. As to the Soviets, I doubt the truth will ever come out, but there are two reasonable and complementary assumptions - that they were probably well fed by Communist moles in England and Germany, and that the German collapse in the snows of Russia can hardly not have left the odd bit of kit lying about.
  14. Thanks for that post Seaweed .... I had bought and read a copy of that book a couple of years ago .... first I could not remember the title earlier today and secondly I still cannot find the bl**dy thing ... yet ... it must be in a safe place .
  15. I don't doubt that the Russians had a few Enigma machines. What is in doubt is their ability to determine the frequently changing key settings.