German code breaking during WW2, Part Seven

well_chuffed, Going Postal
Hitler Youth boys are learning Morse Code

One of the lesser known parts of German Signals Intelligence was the Radio Defence Corps of the Armed Forces. Their main function was to monitor clandestine radio transmissions within Germany and later German controlled areas. These transmissions would usually be from resistance fighters and foreign agents. If you can remember the old films about the Maquis and the like , these guys would be the ones driving round in the vans with the direction finding equipment on them.

As well as detecting these transmissions they were expected to evaluate them and intercept if it was though worthwhile ; to capture and destroy agents and their transmitters if the Reich Main Security Office did not do so. Just as we did , they also tried to capture and turn agents for counter-intelligence purposes though with an unknown success rate. It employed about 2,500 people at its peak.

There were some significant successes

They predicted and spotted all attacks on the German “Colmar Bridgehead” in January 1945 by traffic analysis of French agent traffic in the locality.

  • It located a large Russian spy network which was known as the “Schulze-Boysen” net in 1942 in Berlin.
  • It located , intercepted and furnished information leading to the capture of a network carrying illicit Czechoslovakian traffic.
  • It located , intercepted and occasionally broke up traffic nets of Marshal Tito’s agents.
  • It located an Italian test transmitter , said by the Italians to be proof against direction finding.
  • It provided men , equipment and information to Luftwaffe night fighters for locating and destroying Allied airborne agent control stations.
  • It set up an IBM section for recording and traffic analysis of unknown traffic.
  • It also had a few failures
  • It could not maintain effective control over illicit traffic originating in France.
  • It could not control the Mihailovitch-Cairo traffic.
  • It could not control illicit transmissions in Warsaw.
  • It did not maintain effective liaison with the Reich Main Security Office
  • It has almost no liaison with the Italians (in that it was far from alone).

They were of the opinion that they could have done a lot more had they only had more personnel.

well_chuffed, Going Postal
German soldiers in the field enciphering a message on the Enigma code machine, circa 1940

The German Meteorological Service also used codes and ciphers. We are accustomed today to have worldwide weather delivered to us on a plate. Back in WW2 it was not so easy and each side wanted to keep their details from the other.

If you are going to bomb London or Hamburg , it is valuable to know the weather conditions you can expect en route and over the target. Until one side had air superiority , both would want to conceal any weather details from the each other.

As can be seen from the examples of the air raids over Germany , weather reports were a part of the pathfinder’s function as well as the main bomber forces also reporting details. By that stage in the war , the Luftwaffe was only active over German held territory so there was no need to conceal the information , even of the home base’s weather , the Germans were unlikely to be visiting that far.

The Luftwaffe Signals people were ordered to report all weather details picked up from the enemy to their nearest weather station.

There were even reports of parachutists dropping behind the Russian lines who would send back weather reports (rather them than me).

The British Weather Reports remained secure but Canada , the US and Asiatic Russia did not encipher weather data at the beginning of the war , giving the Germans useful data.

The Germans and Russians exchanged weather information concerning Germany , Poland and European Russia until the Germans discontinued this when they discovered that their information was being passed to the Allies by the Russians. Presumably this was during the period after the dismemberment of Poland and Germany’s invasion of Russia.

© well_chuffed 2018