Enigma and the Soviets

#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 ?

john
 
#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
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?
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.

john
 
#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
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.
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
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.
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 .


[video=youtube;_Sgphzwn_bE]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Sgphzwn_bE&feature=related[/video]

Digression over .
 
#9
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.
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
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 ?
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 .
 

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
#13
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
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.
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
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.
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.
 
#16
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 ?
Define highly placed. Technical details like key setting would be known only to a very few people and attempts by anyone who did not have a need to know to obtain those details would have aroused suspicions.
 

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
#17
Rule 1 of this sort of espionage us surely don't try and spook from the outside, turn the people on the inside. A classic was Harry Houghton, a retired senior RN rating, who was spotted while in a later job behind the curtain. When he moved to a job in the Admiralty Underwater Weapons Establishment at Portland he was turned with a bit of blackmail, and from a relatively lowly position saved the Sovs decades of sonar development, the goods delivered with the aid of a middle-aged and desperate filing clerk, to whom he professed undying love, called Ethel Gee. It didn't matter that Houghton was not a boffin, what counted was that he had the necessary access. 'Security' at AUWE (I arrived at Portland to join one of AUWE's trials ships about six months after this all blew up) was a joke, the security detail was a solitary retired officer whose job basically was to dish out passes. Another classic was the homosexual traitor Vassall who was a minor nerd but with that ever vital thing, access, inside the Admiralty. Goodness knows how many others there were we've never found out about - an old woman was flushed out fairly recently who had been quietly slipping the Sovs nuclear bits for years. Why she was never properly pilloried I shall never know. She was entirely unrepentant and had clearly spoofed the vetting system.

The Sovs did actually use stupid spooks of their own as well. In Leningrad in 1955 I told one that a Foamite fire extinguisher was an atom bomb and he went away contented. Another asked what a spare 40/60 Bofors barrel was. One of our cooks, because in those days Supply ratings wore fore and aft rig with peaked caps, was asked for guidance to find the ship's ops room. Being a lowly chef he didn't know the answer! but somewhat flustered by the encounter promptly told an officer about it, and everyone else as well. The Sovs were desperate to get pics of our OC Royal Marines because they thought the red band round his hat meant the equivalent of KGB. How well they filtered out the crap they collected I have no idea.
 
#19
As previously referred to, the Sov's must have had various sources in the UK.

Especially given that Communism was rampant among the Oxbridge Set in the 30's and what group provided a significant number of Intelligence Officers and Cryptoanalysts in WW2?
 
#20
I have tried entering Battleplan in Wiki and find that the episode was titled Defensive Operations.

Almost nothing to be found there.
I then tried Kursk and found this
"Soviet commanders had considerable concerns over the German plans. The locations of all previous German attacks had caught the Red Army by surprise but, in this case, Kursk seemed the obvious target. Moscow received warning of the German plans through the Lucy spy ring in Switzerland. The Russian government also received important information from John Cairncross in the UK, who forwarded decoded Enigma data from Bletchley Park.[34] Marshal Georgiy Zhukov had already predicted the site of the German attack as early as 8 April, when he wrote his initial report to Stavka (the Red Army General Staff), in which he also recommended the strategy eventually followed by the Red Army. Anastas Mikoyan wrote in his memoirs that he was notified about the attack in general details by Stalin on 27 March."

Nothing at all on a Soviet breaking of Enigma, which the program definitely said occured.
And to me more importantly Nothing from the Membership of this board where so much knowledge lies.

John
Have to wait a few months for a repeat.
 

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