Photo: Inquam Photos / Octav Ganea / Reuters
There was an unusual case in the Romanian flea market: both the seller and the buyer went home happy. The seller sold the ancient poorly working typewriter to some eccentric for 100 euros. And the buyer knew that he had acquired a rare copy of the Enigma I Wehrmacht encryption machine, which he soon put up for auction at Artmark
for € 9000. The auction took place on July 11, 2017, and the price of a rare book as a result of the auction rose to € 45,000
“The buyer bought the car at the flea market. He is a professor of cryptography and ... knew very well exactly what he was buying, ” said
Cristian Gavrila, manager of the Artmark auction house, to Reuters.
Enigma is a family of electromechanical rotary machines that have been used since commerce and public services since the 1920s. Cryptographic machines acquired the greatest popularity during the Second World War, when they began to be used in the Third Reich. Cryptographers from Poland and the UK successfully coped with the cryptanalysis of several modifications of the Enigma
. Some experts believe that breaking the Enigma cipher was a decisive factor in the victory and shortened the war by two years. The Nazis could not even take a step that would not be known to our troops. True, the allies had to constantly sacrifice their soldiers, merchant ships and convoys in order for the loss statistics to correspond to a normal distribution, but this topic is not accepted to be discussed.
According to rough estimates, about 100,000 copies of the Enigma were released. Few have survived to date. Romania was an ally of Germany until 1944, until it joined the allies. It is likely that in this country somewhere in the flea markets and attics are still old cryptographic machines.
The Romanian copy of Enigma was produced by Heimsoeth & Rinke in Berlin in 1941. Lot was sold in the original wooden box.Photo: Inquam Photos / Octav Ganea / Reuters
Although it is unlikely that a professor of cryptography should be so happy. There is a possibility that he, too cheap. For example, the 19-release Enigma four-rotor encryption machine was recently sold at Christie for $ 547,500
. Lot aroused keen interest in bidding from applicants from 22 countries. And in 2015, a fully working version of the Enigma M4 from the German U-570
submarine was sold for $ 365,000
. Such things become more expensive with time.