Enigma machine up for sale at Christie’s auction


A legendary enigma machine, a famous device that the German army used to encrypt messages in World War II, went up for sale this month at Christie’s in London. The Germans thought that breaking its code was impossible, but an Allied team in England succeeded in doing it.
World War II historians think that the Nazis may have produced up to 100, 000 enigma machines.

Although many machines still exist they normally do not show up at auctions. Last November a machine was sold for over $100,000.

During World War II the Enigma was a very sophisticated machine, much like our computers today. It had a complicated system of rotors that could be turned. Originally produced by the Dutch after World War I, the Germans bought the technology towards the end of the 1920s.

The machine sent encrypted messages to other machines of the same type. The receiving Enigma had to be set in the same way in order to receive and decode the messages. This wasn’t that easy because there were thousands of millions of possible combinations.

What Adolf Hitler didn’t know was that the Allied Forces employed an armada of code breakers, scientists, mathematicians, who worked in Bletchley Park England. They managed to break the Enigma code and decrypt over 6,000 messages every day. Experts think that this shortened the war by two years. The Allied Forces received important information on the location of German troops as well as what the Germans planned.

Because the Enigma machine is so complicated many technology freaks are after it.

Enigma machine

Enigma machine


Related Topics


  • Allied = the countries that fought against Germany in World War II : France, Britain, the USA and the Soviet Union
  • although = while
  • armada = very many
  • auction = a public meeting where objects are sold to the people who pay the most for them
  • Christie’s = famous auction house in London where famous paintings, machines and furniture are sold
  • complicated = difficult to understand
  • decode = to discover the meaning of a message written in code
  • device = machine
  • employ = to work for someone
  • encrypt = to protect information by writing it in code that only some people can read
  • for sale = to be sold
  • freak = someone who is very interested in something, so others think this is strange
  • historian = a person who studies history
  • impossible = could not be done
  • legendary = famous, well-known
  • location = position
  • manage = to succeed in doing something
  • originally = at first
  • receive = get
  • rotor = wheel that turns around a central point
  • show up = appear
  • sophisticated = technologically complicated
  • succeed = to be able to do something