Otto Buggisch

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Otto Buggisch (June 28, 1910 – September 15, 1991)[1] was a German mathematician[2] who, during World War II, was a cryptanalyst working in the cipher bureau of the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces, the Cipher Department of the High Command of the Wehrmacht (OKW/Chi) responsible for deciphering of the opposing forces Communications. He also dealt with the security control of own key procedures. Through research and revelations exposed by two Polish officers, late in the war, he recognized the true cryptographic weaknesses of the Enigma rotor cipher, key machine used by the German armed forces to encrypt their secret communications, in World War II.


Toward the end of the war in July 1944, the Luftwaffe introduced the clock or Enigma-uhr to cryptographically strengthen the Enigma I.

Buggisch graduated from the Ludwig-Georgs Gymnasium (LGG) in Darmstadt in 1928. He studied at the TH (today TU) Darmstadt with the main subjects pure mathematics and physics and the subsidiary subject applied mathematics. In 1932 the scientific examination for the higher Lehramt took place, in 1934 the state examination as a Studienassessor.

In 1938, Buggisch's gained Dr. rer. nat. with a mathematical dissertation titled On the Rarity of Equations with Affect[3] (German: Über die Seltenheit der Gleichungen mit Affekt) which was supervised by Udo Wegner at the Technische Universität Darmstadt.

During the war, Dr Buggisch held the military rank of a sergeant[4] in group 7/VI at OKW/Chi. Immediately after the war, he was interviewed extensively by the interrogators of the Target Intelligence Committee (TICOM) regarding his work. A large part of the available information about him and his activity comes from these interrogations, which were classified as TOP SECRET, but which can now be viewed publicly, with the release of the archive. His work was very versatile. He had been dealing with recent successes and failures with methods such as TypeX, C-36, M-209[4] and the Strip Cipher System M-138, as well as with the Soviet device used by British and Americans, including the voice encryption (wikt:ciphony|Ciphony) method X2.[5] In addition, he continuously investigated the security of his own procedures and devices, such as T52, T43, SZ40 and the Enigma I used by the German army.

He was well acquainted with the basic methods of attack, such as the use of cribs, which were also highly successful in the deciphering of Enigma by the Allied party under the cover name "Ultra", and recognized some weaknesses of German cryptographic procedures. In addition, Buggisch knew the cryptographic strengths of the Enigma which had been newly developed and partially introduced towards the end of the war, such as the Enigma-Uhr and the Lückenfüllerwalze (Fritz Menzer), i.e. gap fill roller, as the Allies learned after the war through the interrogations.

German Colleagues[edit]

Buggisch had an excellent knowledge of individuals who worked as the German specialists. The most important name and who Buggisch considered exceedingly highly was Wachtmeister Döring. Both Major Hentze and Corporal Karrenberg also concurred in Buggisch's estimate. Döring undertook many research projects and was considered a driving force in the German military cryptography community. Buggisch also rated highly, Sdf Hans-Peter Luzius, an actuarial mathematician who conducted research into the M-209 device, and of Hans Pietsch, who was director of Referat I of Group IV of the General der Nachrichtenaufklärung. Buggisch spoke under interrogation about Herbert von Denffer, whom he also rated.[6]

Military career[edit]


From May 1940 to July 40, Dr. Buggisch was posted to a Wireless Telegraphy (abbr. W/T) Listening Interpretation Station (Out-Station or Interception station) of Army Group C. in Bad Schwalbach, Bad Kreuznach, Saarbrücken. Dr. Buggisch was working with Hauptmann Mettig, a signals officer, who became second-in-command of OKW/Chi, the mathematician, Hauptmann Wolfgang Franz and Inspecktor Kühn. Cryptographic systems/ciphers worked on were F90, F110. F90 and F110 were German designations for French Army cipher systems before and during the Battle of France. These were based on 4-figure codes and in one case the recipher consisted of a periodic adder, or subtractor of length 11. In the other, it was ordinary transposition, the transposition key being obtained from a key word which itself was taken from the code and shown by an indicator group. Both systems were being read from the winter of 1939–1940 to the end of the Battle of France.[7] Buggisch also worked on diagonal write-out transposition (Transposition cipher), C-36 examination.[8] These were simple field codes. From July 20, 1940, he was posted and attached to a W/T Interception station in Berlin at 29/30 Bendlerstrasse, where there were other specialist parties for interception of Russian and Balkan traffic. Dr. Buggisch came into contact with Major Wollman and Hauptmann Mailbeck. During this period, he undertook the completion of two works on the C-36 Cipher machine, while working with the team which included Dr Erich Hüttenhain, the chief cryptanalyst of OKW/Chi and Oberinspektor Fritz Menzer. Buggisch also studied the M40 device, designed by Fritz Menzer and found it moderately secure but it was never actually used. The M40 device was the forerunner of the Cipher Machine 41 (German: Schlüsselgerät 41), but the motion of the wheels was not so irregular.[8]

In September 1940, Dr. Buggisch was transferred to a Soviet (Russian) specialist party, which consisted of Blenschke, Alexsis Dettman, Torunksy and Liedtke. They worked on 4-figure code (Olowo) and 5-figure codes, creating practice messages. In October or November 1940, Dr Buggisch transferred to the W/T Interception station from France, working with Obstlt. Kettler and Major Mang.[8]


In January 1941, he was transferred to the Balkans specialist party, directed by Rudolf Bailovic. With this unit, Dr. Buggisch worked on Greek 5-figure transposition cipher. Two memoranda were issued concerning the JUGO – SLAV code.[8]

Around February 1, 1941, All cryptanlysts including Dr. Buggisch were transferred from the W/T Interception station to the Inspectorate 7, later called the General der Nachrichtenaufklärung. Director of the unit was Obstlt. Hassel. Founding of this section VI in spring 1941 from elements of the former section IV and personnel joining from the W/T Interception station, whose head of section was Major Mang.[8] A lack of work at this Balkan specialists unit forced Buggisch to move to Shellingstr.[8]

In June 1941, Buggisch moved to the newly formed Signals Recce Abteilung (abbr. Signals), with all personnel who worked in In 7/VI being subordinated into that unit. The Russian cipher specialist party was again subordinated to the W/T Listening Interpretation Station, with the unit moving to Loetzen. Between July 1941 and November 1941, while at Loetzen, Dr Buggisch worked on 5-figure material, specifically the OK40 code and the K37 machine.[8] The OK40 was the official Russian designation for the Soviet (Russian) 5/F or 5-figure operational code. It contained 25,000 groups namely all the five figure numbers and only these, in which the first three figures were all simultaneously odd or simultaneously even. For recyphering the add [subtractor] or 300 5/F groups were in general use by the Soviets. The code was used from about the end of June 1941 to September 1941, by the higher and highest Soviet Army command. Soon after the beginning of Operation Barbarossa, several copies of the code were captured, with recypher tables also frequently being captured, with most of them out of date, with the Soviets changing them frequently, but not yet daily. Owing to the already mentioned special characteristic of the first three elements of the code groups it was particularly easy to line them up. In this way, depth of 8–12 was often obtained, so that the recipher could easily be stripped by well known methods. Buggisch would later work with Alexis Dettman and Sergius Samsanov on this code.[7]

The K37 was the Russian Crystal cipher machine, that worked on the same principle as the B211 cipher, but more primitive. The K37 machine was different from the B211 in lacking the (German: Surchiffreur) or German: Ueberschluesseler, a sort of Enigma wheel by which the path of the current was turned to another channel at one point, crossing over and exchanging positions with another path instead of continuing parallel. Buggisch called this the X effect, and stated it greatly complicated analysis, as it was hard to tell when it was being employed in place of the parallels.[9]

A model was captured in 1941. Research by Dr Hilburg, Dr Herbert von Denffer and Buggisch found that it could be solved on a 10 letter crib. The work remained purely theoretical as no traffic from this machine was ever received.[10]

In November 1941, Buggisch was transferred to In 7/VI in Berlin, working at the French specialist party at Matthekirchplatz 4. Posted there until August 1942, he worked on a variety of problems, including: Hatted diplomatic 5-figure codes used by Charles de Gaulle and Swiss Hagelin machine messages. The unit included Dr Kunze of Pers Z S, working on French diagonal write-out transposition ciphers used by the de Gaulle delegation in Senegal.[8]


In the beginning of 1942, Buggisch's signals unit was disbanded, 4 Coy, Evaluation Company was formed with Major Mettig as head of the section.[8] In the summer of 1942, Buggisch was working with Doering on the first detailed investigation of cypher teleprinters, the T52 models T52a to c, that were later extensively used. The B211 code was worked on with Dr Denffer and Hilburg later in the summer. Buggisch worked in the section until August 1942, until a reorganization of specialist parties of Section VI was undertaken. A few mathematicians left for Section IV of Inspectorate 7. Buggisch transferred to the newly formed cipher machine specialists section, conducting extensive investigations into Cipher Machine 41 (German: Schlüsselgerät 41) (Fritz Menzer). Buggisch subsequently worked on call sign and research into the double Playfair.[8] In November 1942, Buggisch started work into research of Cipher Machine 39 (German: Schlüsselgerät 39) which was a proposed Kriegsmarine device.[8]

By the summer of 1942, Buggisch had been assigned to work on the cypher teleprinter T52 with Dr Doering. Buggisch and Doering worked on versions a,b,c of the teleprinter, as well as the SZ40 rotor stream cipher machine. The B-211 code was studied in detail, using traffic collected from two years before. The study was conducted by Dr Denffer, Buggisch, and Dr Hilburg.[8] A theoretical solution to the B211 code was developed by the group and back traffic was actually solved. However, the method did not work in practice when B211 traffic was again encountered. Buggisch did not mention any other solutions.[8]

In August 1942, Specialist parties of Inspectorate 7/VI were again under reorganization. Buggisch was transferred to the newly formed machine specialist section. At the unit, Buggisch conducted an investigation into Cypher Device 41, or Schlüsselgerät 41. Buggisch stated that Device 41 was Fritz Menzer's idea, and the technical side was worked on by Dr Pupp of Wa Pruef 7/IV. Buggisch also worked on Call signs and weaknesses in the double Playfair cipher.[8] In October 1942, Buggisch visited Wanderer Werke regarding Cypher Device 41.[8] In November 1942, Buggisch began research into the security of the naval version of Cypher Device 41.


In the spring 1943, Buggisch conducted general investigations into the small technique TECHNIK Hagelin machine. The Swedish firm, A.B. Cryptograph, Stockholm produced an early type of Hagelin machine known as TEKNIK. One example of the BC 38 device was received from the Wa Pruef 7/IV unit, together with the statement that Boris Hagelin was working in America. The BC38 was a Swedish hagelin machine. An engineer called Voss, who was a German spy in Sweden, had informed Germany that the US was planning to adopt a Hagelin idea. Buggisch and his team had investigated the Hagelin machine for security weaknesses. Buggisch also conducted research into Enigma machine 39 during this period. He also started work on a future German Standard Cypher teleprinter standard.[8] French C36 messages appeared in the 5-figure Charles de Gaulle code traffic again, with the decoding of the work being done by means of the method developed earlier by Dr Denffer. It was discovered to be transposed. Likewise more B-211 messages appear but the theoretically worked out procedure do not result in a decode.[8]

During the summer of 1943, Dr Buggisch works with Dr Luzius and Dr Rudolf Kochendörffer on the Crib problem with converter 209 (M-209), which had been captured from Italy. This was the first key recovery from a crib. Major Lechner was head of Section Inspectorate 7/VI. During this period Buggisch conducted conferences with OKW/Chi regarding security studies on the BC38 device, which was the Swedish Hagelin cipher machine, on the Enigma cipher machine and on the cypher teleprinter with Karl Stein and with Dr Gisbert Hasenjaeger. During the summer Buggisch worked on and broke the Croatian Enigma. From about August 1943, Buggisch worked on a captured specimen of converter 209 from Italy.[8] During the course of 1943, the Inspectorate 7/VI was renamed to the Signal Intelligence Section of the Department of signals of the General Army Office (German: Amtsgruppe Nachrichten/Nachrichten Aufklaerun). In October 1943, the office moved to Jüterbog. In the winter of 1943, Buggisch worked with Dr Doering, whose specialty was also machine ciphers, on Russian cypher teleprinters, i.e. the Russian Fish device, cribs and supposed results of the device from the Forschungsamt.[8] He also worked on the Enigma specifically crib problems, Bigram systems. On the Converted 209, he worked on column separation (German: Spaltentren-nung). He also conducted continued research on the C36 messages, looking at messages with complicated enciphering techniques, which were solved in the spring. Later, he conducted lectures on theory, specifically discussing depth problems, X2 and W2 methods.[8]

Towards the end of the year, in November 1943, Buggisch had a discussion with Korvettenkapitän Jaeckle.[8][9] Buggisch considered this a very foolish incident altogether. He has become acquainted with Jaeckle in 1943, when Jaeckle, who was an ordinary Naval Signals Officer, had managed to get hold of a model of the M-209 cipher device and had worked out a solution while sitting idle in a French port. The solution was in fact childish and consisted of nothing more than a study of the theoretical working equation of the machine. Jaeckle had talked his way into the SKL and had talked a lot about getting a section of 200 men to work on the machine. Actually he had been exposed quickly and had been sent back to sea after three or four months.[9]


In the first two months of 1944 Buggisch conducted discussions with colleagues, while at Köthen, on cypher problems and the teleprinter T43, which was the new secure model first discussed in spring 1943.[8] During the first half of 1944, he conducted research into the weaknesses of the Naval Emergency Key along with Kapitän zur See, Captain at sea Beegemann and Fregattenkapitän Frigate captain Singer. He studied the Army Enigma, looking for weaknesses in that system. He examined the machine, and specifically looked for compromise of the key through message settings and looked at the question of the possibility in principle of breaking cyphers by means of enormous amounts of machinery, using statistical analysis.[8]

During this period Buggisch's team conducted research into the field-rewirable reflector, (German: Umkehrwalze D) which lead to the Enigma Uhr device. Another device which was created was the Lückenfüllerwalze, or gap-filling wheel, that was built by Fritz Menzer.[8] This was a device for varying turnover of wheels by means of adjustable plugs on the perimeter.

Buggisch conducted security studies of this device. This was a result of the implications of the Fall Wicher, that was German knowledge, or supposed knowledge, that the Enigma cipher machine and therefore its own key processes, were not secure. The Fall Wicher was the knowledge that was received from two Polish officers. who were being held in a concentration camp, in late 1943, early 1944. The two officers had been captured in 1940 in France, and had finally volunteered the information that the Enigma device had been broken by Poland several years before the war, confirming German suspicions.[11][8]

Mid 1944 to April 1945[edit]

During this period Buggisch was attached to Communications Experimental Station, located in Staats, that was in a cave, and part of the Army Ordnance Branch, department WA Pruef 7, Section IV, Referat A from June 1944. He worked with Obstlt. Weidmann and Dr Lotze with Dr Schone, he conducted research on the mathematical treatment of ciphony systems. During this period Buggisch also worked almost exclusively on Russian X2 ciphony device. He also worked on the T52 teleprinter frequency Undulator device. Later work was the theoretical investigations into the construction of Tigerstedt keys, from a cryptographic device constructed by Eric Tigerstedt.[8]

Autumn 1944[edit]

In Autumn, Buggisch's attachment to WA Pruef 7 was suspended, and he was transferred from AgN/NA to OKW/Chi Chi IV Analytical Cryptography (German: Analytical cryptanalysis) to attend the Chi conference in Berlin at the instigation of Major General William Gimmler, (German: Chef Ag WNV) Chief Signals Officer subordinated to Commander in Chief OB West and Chief of the Armed Forces Signal Communications Office.[8] The Chi conference took place over a period of three months from November 1944 through January 1945. Gimmler had insisted on them, although the mathematician Dr Erich Hüttenhain who also worked a OKW/Chi, was against them, and felt it was a waste of time to gather formally to hear reports. In spite of this, Hüttenhain held the chair at these conferences. Four different subjects were covered, with a day allotted to each. These were:

  • Speech encipherment.
  • Security of Teleprinters.
  • Security of the Enigma cipher machine.
  • Security of Hand systems.

Buggisch attended only the first session.

January 1945[edit]

In January 1945, Buggisch conducted three lectures, on ciphony, at the OKW/Chi. This was followed by a visit to the town of Ebermannstadt, and the Feuerstein Castle laboratory, to become acquainted with the proposed German ciphony systems.[8]

March 1945[edit]

Buggisch worked to determine the theoretical foundations of an Allied ciphony apparatus from the captured Mustang a/c restored to working order by the German Aeronautical Research Institute by engineer Vegemund, who described its working to Buggisch. The investigations begun at Wa Pruef 7/IVe could not be carried very far owing to the general disorganization then beginning and the fall of Germany.[8]

After World War II[edit]

Before the war, he taught at the Old Realgymnasium Darmstadt (1938) and at the Stefan George Gymnasium in Bingen (1938–39). In May 1939, he was first called to the pioneers. Although not a member of the Nazi party, in 1943, he was appointed as a secondary school teacher (German:Studienrat) [possibly to teach the children of Nazi officials] that was held during his military service. In April 1946 he was released from prison. From 1948 to 1966, he taught at the Ludwig-Georgs-Gymnasium, the preparatory course for foreign students in Darmstadt (1966–1969), and finally as a postgraduate student at the Mathematics Institute of the TH-Darmstadt (1969–1972).

TICOM homework[edit]

TICOM was the United States effort to seize German Intelligence after World War II. Otto Buggisch wrote some homework, a report for TICOM that described in detail, the Schlüsselgerät 39 device and the use of Hollerith and other specialist machinery in the solution of Hagelin traffic.[12]

TICOM publications[edit]

Dr Otto Buggisch is mentioned in the following TICOM documents:


  1. ^ Wolfgang U. Eckart; Volker Sellin; Eike Wolgast (September 23, 2006). Die Universität Heidelberg im Nationalsozialismus. Springer-Verlag. p. 1065. ISBN 978-3-540-39385-6. 
  2. ^ "Mathematics Genealogy Project Otto Buggisch". North Dakota State University. Retrieved March 3, 2017. 
  3. ^ "Über die Seltenheit der Gleichungen mit Affekt – Deutsche Mathematik, Vol. 2, 1937, pp. 685–690". Mathematics Genealogy Project. Mathematics Genealogy Project, Department of Mathematics ,North Dakota State University. April 30, 2005. Retrieved February 6, 2017. 
  4. ^ a b "Army Security Agency: Notes on German High Level Cryptography and Cryptanalysis. European Axis Signal Intelligence in World War II, Vol 2, Washington (D.C.) DOCID:356 0816" (PDF). NSA. TICOM. May 1, 1946. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 11, 2014. Retrieved February 6, 2017. 
  5. ^ "TICOM I-58 Interrogation of Dr Otto Buggisch of OKW/Chi 8th August 1945" (PDF). TICOM. Retrieved January 31, 2018. 
  6. ^ I-58, p.9
  7. ^ a b "TICOM I-176 Homework by Wachtmeister Dr Otto Buggisch of OKH and OKW/Chi 17th December 1945" (PDF). TICOM. Retrieved January 31, 2018. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac I-58 pp.2–4
  9. ^ a b c "TICOM I-92 Final interrogation of Wachtmeister Otto Buggisch of OKH/IN 7/VI and OKW/Chi" (pdf). Google Drive. TICOM. September 11, 1945. Retrieved January 30, 2018. 
  10. ^ I-58 p.5
  11. ^ Joseph A., Meyer. "Der Fall WICHER: German Knowledge of Polish Success on ENIGMA" (pdf). NSA. Retrieved January 29, 2018. 
  12. ^ "TICOM I-137 Final Report written Wachtmeister Dr Otto Buggisch of OKH/Chi and OKW/Chi 8th October 1945" (PDF). TICOM. Retrieved January 30, 2018.